Finding time for home projects can be difficult when there are little kids running around the house and getting into trouble. (Running a website doesn’t make it any easier.) But, among other projects, I’m here to tell you that installing a sliding door (or two) with exposed barn hardware is easier than you would think. If you’re considering it, stop putting it off.
As soon as we moved in, my wife and I knew we had to replace the awful swinging saloon doors pictured below. The doors separate our master bedroom from our master bathroom. We prefer them to be open most of the time. So, the functional and aesthetic improvement of a barn-style sliding door is obvious and wonderful.
First and foremost, you need two things for this project: sliding door hardware and a door slab.
The hardware part is easy. Especially if you get your kit from the same place I did – The Barn Door Hardware Store. There are other kits available (most big box stores have them). But, I was comforted by knowing that all parts were included and I was getting quality steel components made in the good ol’ US-of-A. I got their standard 6ft kit, with an 18″ pipe handle and a wall-mounted guide bracket.
As for the door slab(s), there are a couple things to consider. Mainly style and size. 80″ is the standard height and comes in the widest variety of styles and widths. But, an 80″ door might not cover your opening as well as an 84″. I bought an 80″ x 36″ unpainted door slab from my local big box hardware store. An exceptionally ambitious dad might try to build their own door! I haven’t reach that level of dad yet. So, pre-fab it is! (TBDHS has very nice door slabs. But, the shipping makes them cost-prohibitive outside of PA.) Another option to consider is paint vs. stain. Be sure that whatever slab you buy is not pre-drilled / pre-hung.
MEASURE TWICE, DRILL ONCE
Some steel tracks will come predrilled, but I strongly suggest getting a raw steel track and drilling holes yourself. (TBDHS provides their tracks undrilled by default, though predrilled is an option.) Anchoring squarely into studs is critical. Chances are NOT good that your house’s studs are perfectly spaced. So, a little improv will be required. Look below at the irregular spacing I needed to hit six studs!
It may sound obvious, but start with where you want the door to be – both in the closed position and the open position. Then, think about how the track, end stops and guide bracket will be installed relative to your ideal open/closed door position. Also, keep in mind that the end stops will stop the door hangers – not the slab – unless you point the stops down, in which case they’ll hit the anti-jump plates. All that said, drawing a little sketch can’t hurt.
Finally, when it comes to prepping and mounting the track, do it in this order:
- Find your track location based on your ideal door placement.
- Measure the stud spacing (could be irregular), mark your steel track accordingly.
- Drill holes in the steel track. Use an appropriate drill bit and don’t rush it.
- If you can get an extra pair of hands, have someone hold the steel track (level of course). Telegraph your recently drilled holes onto the wall. Verify that they land on studs.
- Install the dang thing!
TIPS AND LESSONS LEARNED
I put some adhesive felt pads on the floor guide (above) – I opted for the wall-mounted guide. The felt is the same kind you’d put on the feet of wood furniture. It accomplishes a couple things. First, it cuts down on the door’s wiggle room. Second, it helps the door slide smoother and quieter.
On the inside of the door, you’ll need a way to pull it open. But, there’s only about a half inch of clearance. You can embed a handle, but I chose to surface-mount a low-profile metal angle. I’m happy with the results aesthetically and it gives me enough of a lip to pull with my fingers.
If you’re removing one or more traditionally-hinged doors, you’ll have some scars to clean up. In the side by side image above, you can see where the hinges weren’t patched yet. I applied multiple coats of wood filler – better than one thick sloppy application. After that it still seemed a little uneven, so I iced a little spackling on top. Sand. Paint. Done!
AWESOME SLIDING DOOR COMPLETE!
There you have it! You’ve reached the end of my sliding door walk-through. I highly recommend this as a “DIY” project. Just take it slow, make a sketch with dimensions, and measure twice, drill once. Good luck! If you have any questions, please comment below.