Sliding Barn Door Construction 101 

interior barn doorBefore you begin: Determine the width of the door from the outside edges of the casing, then purchase a hardware kit with a track twice that of the width.

These doors are made to cover a 30-inch-wide opening with 4-inch casing on either side. measurements are:

  • 38½ inches wide by 2¼ inches thick by 83½ inches tall.
  • 1×6 pine boards for the back: Cut the boards ½ inch shorter than the height of the opening (this will allow the door to pass over the floor guide.)
  • 1×3 strapping for blocking: Cut a length of about the width of the work surface; ours measured 48 inches. Cut the remainder of the board into blocking afterwards.
  • 1×5 pine for the filler strips: Cut three rails the width of the door; ours measured 38½ inches. Then cut four stiles to fill between the rails, completing the upper and lower panels of the door. Our stiles measured 35 inches long for the upper panel and 34 inches long for the lower one, to create the 1-inch channel for the floor guide.
  • Pallet boards: About 60 boards at least 24⅜ inches long, mitered to parallel 45-degree angles on each end to fit.
  • 1×6 cedar for face frame: Cut two stiles the height of the door; ours measured 83½ inches. Then cut four rails to span between the stiles; ours measured 27½ inches. Edge-glue and clamp two of those rails together to make the bottom rail. Rip 2 inches off one edge after the glue dries.
  • 1×4 pine for the mounting rail: Cut it to match the track length; ours measured 77 inches.

2. Assembling the Boards

Your sliding barn door will have a 30-inch-wide opening, so seven 16s should span the casing perfectly; Ripping the pine boards to width may be necessary. Measure from the floor to the top of the door casing, and continue cutting the boards ½ inch shorter on a miter saw. Once the boards are ganged side by side, place the blocks along the outside edges, using long bar clamps to cinch them together. Square up the assembly with longer strapping at the top and bottom edges. Finish up by screwing the blocks and strapping in place, and removing the clamps.

3. Adding Filler Strips

A miter saw will work well to cut the 15 filler strips in accordance to the cut list. Adding adhesive, setting the top rail flush along the top of the boards; adhere the upper stiles below it, flush to the outside edges, and the middle rail underneath them. Add the lower stiles and rail, leaving a 1-inch channel for the floor guide that contains the door. Slide a 1¼-inch deck screw through each strip into each 16 it crosses.

4. Cutting the Chevrons

To help keep track of things use a straightedge to mark a centerline down the door’s two inset panels. Position the miter saw to 45 degrees and cut one end off each pallet board. Beginning at the top rail, butt the mitered ends of two pieces of similar girth/thickness/color together at the centerline, forming an arrow. We used a combination square to mark the boards about ⅛ inch short of where they overlap the stiles, as shown. Miter the pieces to length, then dry-fit them. Repeat the process, one chevron at a time.

5. Cutting the Corners 

The boards that hit the corners will require you to use the combination square to mark where the piece overlaps the stile and the rail. Use the miter saw to cut the two angels, as shown. Once you install the longer pieces, fill the remainder of the pattern with scrap, and cut to fit.

6. Installing the Pattern

Now that the chevrons have dry-fit in both panels, remove one pair of boards at a time, distributing panel adhesive to the undersides, and firmly pressing them into place again. Operating a pneumatic nailer, tack the boards into their position with 1 1/4- inch brads, one close to the corner edge of each board.  Continue to repeat the process, fastening and nailing each pair of boards as you work down the two panels.

7. Drilling Pocket Holes

Start with your miter saw again, cutting the cedar per the cut list. Organize the pieces of rough-face down concealing the filler strips. Clamp a pocket-hole jig securely at the end of a rail, even with one edge, and use the kit bit to drill a hole. Reset the jig along the opposite edge and repeat. Drill two pocket holes at each end of the upper and middle rail.

Tip: Spreading glue on both edges of the joint and drilling the pocket holes in the rail so that the screw grabs the stile’s edge grain will make for the strongest bond.

8. Building the Frame

Use wood glue on the ends of the rails and the adjoining edges of the mating stiles, then clamp the frame together. Drive the screws included with our kit into the edges of the stiles at each pocket hole, as shown. Take off the bar clamps.

9. Attaching the Face Frame

Use care when removing the face frame, and set it aside. Distribute panel adhesive in a zigzag pattern along the filler strips. Bring the frame back to the table and situate it rough-side up, concealing the screws. Gently set it in place, as illustrated, aligning it along all four edges. Tap it down with 1¼-inch brads every 8 inches or so.

10. Applying the Finish 

The entire door will need to be lightly sanded with 100-grit paper to get rid of any splinters hiding. Take a cotton rag to rub a generous amount of paste wax into the wood.

11. Attach the Rollers

The rolling hardware on the width of the cedar stiles will need to be centered. A helpful strategy is to remove the wheels first. Make a mark where the screws are going to be located, drilling pilot holes into the filler-strip edge with a ⅛-inch bit. Then screw the hardware in place, as shown. Slip the track into their grooves after you replace the wheels. Measure between the door and the track to determine how high above the casing to mount it—¾ inch for this hardware.

12. Attach the Mounting Board

Return to the miter saw and cut a length of 14 equal to the length of the track. You may want to follow our lead and paint yours to match the wall. Grab a stud finder to inspect the framing and mark locations above the head casing. Level the mounting board above the casing, drilling pilot holes through it and into each stud with a ⅛-inch bit. Fasten it securely with 3-inch deck screws.

13. Installing the Track

Measure ¾ inch above the casing and make two marks on the mounting board. The track you hold flat against the board, with its underside edge at the marks. Using a 2-foot level, be positive that it’s level, then scratch a mark for each lag bolt location on the board. Put the track away and drill 5⁄16-inch pilot holes at each mark. Thread a lag screw through one hole and a standoff and tighten it—not the whole way though—using a ⅜-inch socket wrench. Ratchet the remaining lags in place, then return and snug them all up.

14. Rolling the Door On

Add a doorstop at one end. With a spotter to help you navigate, hoist the door onto the track and slide it to the stop. Do the same installation process for the other stop. Angle the L-shaped floor guide so that it holds the door in both its open and closed positions. Mark the screw locations, drill pilot holes, and securely connect the guide to the floor using the included screws. Position the door handle on the centerline of the stile, drill ⅛-inch pilot holes, and fasten it with the included hardware.

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