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How to Build a Sliding Barn Door (page 2 of 2)

Construct a sliding barn door with character and DIY charm for less than $100!

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Rustic Home Office
  • Time

    Day

  • Price Range

    $100 - $250

  • Difficulty

    Moderate

Highlights:

Prepare the Track

Off-the-shelf metal stock, including angle iron and carriage bolts, was used for this project. With a 3' door opening, a 6' piece of track is required for full operation of the door. If wheel grooves are small enough, they can ride directly on the angle iron. Since wheels shown had approximately a 1" diameter scallop to the riding surface, the track required a rounded top. One-inch metal building tension rod, purchased at a local metal salvage yard, was cut to length and the ends bent with a torch to prevent the wheels from rolling off the track. A simple Z-shaped bracket placed on the wall as a stop would also work. Next, the rod was tacked with a 1" weld every 1' on the back. A salvage yard may tackle this job for you.

The two pieces of angle iron will be oriented so they form a "U" channel. Total track depth will be less than 2" so the door fits tight against the wall. To create channel, offset the two pieces of track for the correct depth and clamp each end with vice grips. With a spring-loaded punch, center punch four holes at 6", 2', 4' and 5' 6". Drill through center punch with a stepped drill bit to 1/2" diameter. By using a 1/2" hole and 5/16" carriage bolts, adjustment may be made later to ensure a good fit.

Take the angle iron without the welded rod to the door opening to mark the mounting holes. This piece will be mounted to the wall and must be drilled to anchor it into solid wood. Locate studs past the opening. Using a tape and pencil, mark the approximate location of the door track on the wall. Using a stud finder, locate all the studs within the track span past the door opening. Measure the distance from the end of the track to the stud locations and mark this on the angle iron. Place three equally spaced bolts in the door header. Place one bolt into each stud. Drill the marked holes in the angle iron to 1/2". Do not drill holes into the wall at this time.

Make Hangers

Mock up the track with the 1" carriage bolts and the wheel to measure the distance from the wheel-mounting surface to the back of the track (wall plane).

Using this simple formula, calculate the horizontal leg needed on your hanger:
Horizontal leg = (wall trim depth 0.25" door thickness) – (mounting surface to wall)

Project shown did include wall trim; the leg length was about 1 3/4". The hanger has three legs: the vertical wheel mount, a horizontal offset and the vertical door mount. Dimensions were roughly 1 3/4", 1 3/4", and 9" respectively. The bottom leg only needed to be long enough to cover the top 4" trim band of the door (appr. 9" total length). This leg should be cut long and trimmed after test fitting the door. Add these three lengths up, add 2" and cut the flat strap into four pieces. Scribe your first measurement using a square across the flat strap. Clamp securely into a vice with the mark appr. 1/16" above the vice jaws. Pulling slightly on the top of the strap, tap the strap near the vice jaw with the sledgehammer until a 90-degree bend is formed*. Do this for the second bend, noting the correct direction. Mark and drill the top hole (for the wheel) to 1/2". Loosely bolt the hangers to the wheels.

*DIY Tip: Applying heat to the flat strap will allow it to bend more easily.

Mount the Track

With a helper, level and mark the wall-mounting track at the correct height. In our case, we wanted only about 1/2" from the top of the door to the track and 1/2" from bottom of the door to the floor. Check both ends of the track for distance to the floor and use the shorter side. The track must be level (so the door doesn't roll) and not necessarily parallel to the floor. It is not uncommon for older floors to have some slope. Using a stud finder and small nail, locate the studs first. Drill the stud locations for a 1/4" pilot hole. Loosely bolt the track to the wall. Drill the other three mounting holes through the predrilled track holes into the door header. Since the holes are 1/2" with a 5/16" lag bolt (3 to 4" long), level the track before securely tightening. If the track is not level, the door may roll to one side or the other on its own.

Bolt the other angle iron (with the top rail) to the wall angle using the 1" carriage bolts. Place a 1/2" wood shim on the floor at the highest spot. Stand the door on the shim and, with a helper, lay the wheels on the track, noting the correct locations for the final lag bolts from the strap to the door. Drill two holes in each strap (8 total) to 1/2" for the 5/16" lag bolts. Level the wheels and bolt the straps to the door. Remove the wood shim and check the door for proper roll. Each bolt can be loosened to move the track in and out from the wall, or the door up and down on the straps. Install any necessary door stops on the wall or floor if you did not put them on the top track.

Finishing options:
1. For a rustic look, the unpainted steel can be aged with a "Plum Brown" solution or blackened with a "Cold Blue" solution. For this project, the outer track was wire brushed and heated with a torch before the Plum Brown solution was applied to create a weathered look.
2. Depending on door choice, a salvaged door can be scrubbed with steel wool and paste waxed for an antique look.

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