How thick does a barn door need to be?

Barn Door Thickness: How Thick?

The thickness of the bottom panel of a barn door depends upon many factors such as the type of material used in construction, its age, and the intended use for it. A typical 3/4 inch plywood or 1/2 inch OSB (or similar) is usually considered to be about right for most purposes. However, if your purpose is to keep out all but small animals like chickens or rabbits, then thicker materials are needed. For example, if you want to keep out large predators like bears and wolves, then thicker materials are required.

In general, the thinner the better. If you have a choice between two different thicknesses of wood for your doors, go with the one that is less expensive. You will probably pay more money for the thicker material because it will last longer and be stronger than the cheaper material.

If you don’t mind spending a little extra, then go with the thicker material. You’ll save money over time and won’t have to replace the door as often. The heavier door will also weigh less and be easier to move around when not in use.

Barn Door Width: How Wide?

For barn doors that open into garages or other buildings, you may wish to consider a width of at least 24 inches. Not only is this enough to pull most cars into the building, but it will also allow for some space on each side when the door is open. Some might think that a wider door would be unwieldy to work with and take up too much room. However, when you are dealing with an opening that is angled at 90 degrees (and possibly situated in the corner of the building), you do not need a door that is excessively wide.

The main thing to remember when dealing with the width of a door is that it should not be wider than the opening into which it is intended to fit. One of the first things you should do if you are thinking about installing barn doors, regardless of the location, is measure the opening. This may sound like common sense, but you would be surprised how many custom jobs I’ve seen where the customer measured incorrectly and ended up with a door that didn’t fit at all.

In most cases, you will want to go with the narrowest opening that you can (or at least fit into) as it allows for a more professional appearance. A wide barn door, no matter how well it is installed and no matter what type of hardware is on it, will always look a bit out of place in a home or shop.

This does not mean, however, that a wide opening is not appealing. You can always have a barn door that consists of more than one panel. For example, rather than one 24 inch wide panel there could be two 12 inch wide panels. This would make the door just as functional while only taking up half as much space.

The idea is give you, the builder/owner, maximum flexibility without sacrificing style.

Barn Door Height: How High?

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A good rule of thumb for determining the height of your barn doors is to figure out what you will be storing in the room and how tall the items are. Most storage items such as shelving and equipment are between 5 and 8 feet tall. Therefore, if you are using the room to store equipment or vehicles, then your doors should be at least that high. For most other uses, a standard 8-foot ceiling is more than sufficient.

For an industrial or utilitarian look, you might even consider going with 10 foot doors. This will not only provide plenty of overhead space but will also give the room a feeling of added spaciousness due to the higher walls. For most people, though, this will not be necessary and could end up making the room look a little strange.

The doors should be at least as high as the item that will be stored in the room.

To calculate the height of your door (for future reference), first measure the width of the opening (from side-to-side) and then multiply that number by 2. This will give you the minimum height of your door (in feet). For example, a standard 8 foot wide opening would call for a 16-foot high door. If you intend to add a loft to the room at a later date, then it may be best to make the door at least 18 or 20 feet high.

Of course, if you aren’t comfortable with these minimum heights then by all means make your doors shorter (within reason). Just remember that you will need to be able to access anything stored in the upper regions of the room.

Tips and Tricks

Ready to start building your own barn door? Before you begin, take some time to read over these helpful tips. They cover some of the more important information that will help you get the most out of your doors. You may even find that some of these ideas will help you with other projects around the home.

1. Use a Nail Gun: There isn’t much that a nail gun can’t do. It will save you time and increase the strength of your project. When installing the boards onto the barn door hardware, use a 16-gauge finish nailer.

When building the actual frame, use a 18-gauge finish nailer.

2. Add Reinforcement: To ensure that your door is as strong as possible, reinforce the framing with corner brackets. It is especially important to add these if you are installing the doors on a wall that does not have a solid foundation (i.e.

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it is only supported by posts).

3. Make Adjustments: Even after careful measuring, the barn door hardware may not fit perfectly within your doorway. If this is the case, you will have to make some minor adjustments. The door frame is affixed to the wall with screws.

These screws can be adjusted up or down to provide a tighter fit. For added security, you can also fill the gap with a wooden shim.

4. Drill Holes: When installing your barn door hardware, you may find that you need to drill new holes for the mounting brackets. When doing this, it is important to remember that wood will split if there is too much pressure exerted against it. To prevent this from happening, drill the hole a little wider than the bit used.

After the bracket is in place, use a wood file to smooth out any rough edges.

5. Pre-Finishing: Before hanging your doors, it may be a good idea to give them a coat of paint first. There are several good reasons for doing this. First and foremost, the paint will protect the wood from the elements.

It will also give your doors a more professional and finished look.

6. Use Weather Stripping: Barn doors are notorious for letting in a lot of cold air in the wintertime. To prevent this from happening, install some flexible foam weather stripping around the base of the door(s).

7. Consider Storm Doors: Like weather stripping, a storm door will prevent a lot of cold air from seeping into your home. It will also offer extra protection to your actual door.

8. Use Different Boards: Although pine is the most common type of wood used for barn doors, you may want to consider using cedar or redwood instead. Both of these types of wood are insect- and rot-resistant. If you live in a particularly wet or humid area, they are a much better choice.

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9. Get Creative: Although most people use their barn door hardware to create a true barn door (one that pivots up and over the opening), there are many other ways to use it. For example, you can use it as a stationary panel or even build a cupboard door. The type of door you choose to build is really just limited to your imagination.

10. Stain or Paint: Once your door is installed and operational, you will need to decide whether you want to stain or paint it. Staining is a more natural look that brings out the natural beauty in the wood. On the other hand, painting the door can allow you to create a much wider range of visual effects.

As with most things, it is really a matter of preference.

Install Your Barn Door Hardware

1. Clean and prep: Before installing your door, you will need to clean and prep the framing. This means wiping down the wood and removing any dirt, dust, paint, or debris.

2. Measure: After cleaning your framing, measure the size of the door opening. Make sure to measure both the width and height of the frame. Also, make a note of where the studs are located.

This is important when it comes to attaching the mounting brackets. If you are missing a stud, you’ll need to use a heavy duty screw. These are more expensive and not readily available at your local hardware store, but they are necessary in situations like this.

3. Install the track: The track installs on the bottom of the door. To start, place one side of the track against the wall where it belongs. Using a spirit level, measure up to determine where the top of the track should be placed.

At the top, place a mark and then drill a hole through the wall. Make sure the hole is wide enough to accommodate the bolts that come with your track. Once the top hole is drilled, measure and mark the location of the bottom hole. Drill this as well.

4. Attach the track: Using your drill, bolt the track to the wall using the holes you just drilled. Use a spirit level to make sure the track is as close to horizontal as possible.

5. Attach the mounting brackets: Next, you will need to attach the mounting brackets to the door. To do this, place the brackets against the backside of the door (the side that will be touching the wall), making sure they are as close to the top and bottom of the door as possible. Using your drill, attach the brackets by drilling pilot holes through the door and into the wood.

Use a ruler to make sure the brackets are at perfect right angles. After attaching the brackets, place the door on the track. The bottom of the door should fit snugly in the grooves of the track. If it doesn’t, you may need to adjust the height of the brackets and drill new pilot holes. Once the height is set, attach the locking mechanism to one of the brackets. Then, attach a handle to the other bracket.

6. Test: The door should work properly now. Test it by opening and closing it a few times. If you find any issues, you may need to revisit some of the steps above.

Also, inspect the door to make sure it is installed level and is not twisted or bowed in any way. If it is, you may need to adjust the brackets slightly and start the process over.

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These instructions should get you through your installation. If you have any questions or run into any issues, give us a call.

Installing a Barn Door

Installing a barn door is an easy weekend do it yourself project. The basic tools you’ll need are a power drill, tape measure, stud finder, hammer and wood screws and nails. The tools required will depend on the type of barn door you choose to install.

Step 1 – Measuring the Opening

Before anything else, you’ll need to measure your opening. While it may seem like an easy enough task, you’ll need to ensure that the door you choose is the perfect fit. Use the measuring tape to get the width and height of your opening. Also, make a note of where your studs are located so you know where to attach the mounting brackets.

Step 2 – Choosing the Right Barn Door

Now that you have the measurements, you can start looking for a door. You’ll want to choose a door that has the same height and width measurements as your opening. The type of door you choose is completely up to you. You can get one with an oblong or rectangular shape.

You could also get a Dutch door, which is an upper door that opens above the main door. It all depends on what you like. Some places sell pre-made doors that are already disassembled, while others offer doors that are in sections so they are easier to ship. A pre-made door will be much easier to install, but either way, it’s a fairly simple process.

Step 3 – Assembling the Door

Once you have all the pieces of your door, you’ll have to assemble it. Most come with instructions, so this part should be easy. If you purchased a pre-made door, this will be very simple. You may still need to attach the hinges and handle though.

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When you get to this step, be sure to make any adjustments so the door opens and closes smoothly. If you installed it properly, it should work perfectly.

That’s all there is to it. Now you have a brand new door for your opening that looks great and works smoothly. If you want to take it a step further, you can add window units on either side or get a matching coat rack or bench to complete the look. There are many great things you can do to your door.

Have fun and enjoy your new entryway!

BARN DOOR INSTALLATION FAQ’s

How do I hang a barn door?

Installing a barn door is fairly simple and can be accomplished fairly easily over the weekend, even if you’re a novice at DIY projects. The first thing you need to do is measure the opening that you want to place the barn door in. This is very easy to do and only requires a measuring tape.

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