What is a Barn Door: A Quick and Friendly Guide

Barn doors are a unique and stylish option for your home, blending functionality with a rustic charm or modern aesthetic. Traditional barn doors were originally used in large barns, designed for farmers who needed doors allowing their cattle and livestock to enter and exit without swinging the door open. Instead, they would slide it away from the path of the animals.

While the customizable design is attractive, why do people opt for barn doors? Oftentimes, depending on a home’s structural design, there may not be enough space for a conventional swinging door, making pocket doors or barn doors the only feasible alternatives. A significant advantage of barn doors is their installation process, which involves positioning them along the wall rather than within it.

Nowadays, sliding barn doors bring a bold and distinctive touch to any interior design. You’ll find that there are various styles available, catering to both rustic and contemporary preferences. Some of these styles include traditional wooden doors, glass panel doors, and metal framed doors. You can also find colorful and artistic barn doors that fit your home décor.

Assembling and Installing the Barn Door

The barn door is not difficult to install. Whether you are an interior designer or a DIY lover, if you want to enjoy the benefits of barn doors in limited space and save money simultaneously, please read the information below which will give you overall barn door design ideas from beginning to end. 

Building the Barn Door

To build your own interior sliding barn door, start by measuring the dimensions of your doorway and the door you chose. Based on these measurements, purchase the door slats and other required materials you’ll need. Lay the slats side by side, ensuring they are level and square. Add the vertical crosspieces, followed by the diagonal braces to create a stable structure. Secure everything with screws or nails for added strength.

  • The basic components needed are door slats (1×6 or 1×8 boards work well), vertical stiles, horizontal rails, rollers, hinges/brackets and hardware for hanging.
  • Cut the slats to the desired width of the door, spacing them about 1/4″ apart for airflow. Rip cut the vertical stiles and rails to size.
  • Sand all wood components smooth before assembly. This helps the door operate smoothly.
  • Attach the stiles to the ends of the slats using wood glue and brads or screws from the back. Add the top and bottom rails.
  • For reinforcement, measure and cut diagonal braces to fit inside the door frame. Secure with glue and brads/screws.

Installation Process

Once your barn door is assembled, it’s time to install it. First, attach the rollers to the top edge of your door. Then, mount the track on the wall above your doorway, making sure it’s level and sturdy. Slide your barn door onto the track and check that it glides smoothly. Install door guides at the bottom to keep your door aligned and prevent it from swinging. Additionally, attach door stoppers on the track to limit the door’s range of motion and protect your walls.

  • Mark header locations for the track brackets based on the roller placement. Use a level to ensure brackets are straight.
  • Mount the track brackets securely to the header using lag bolts or heavy-duty screws.
  • Position the track on the brackets and secure it with set screws to hold it in place.
  • Lift the door and slide the rollers onto the track. Adjust if needed so the barn door hangs level.
  • Install a floor guide or bumper strip along the bottom to align the door.
  • Add a stop bracket/bumper at the fully open position to prevent the door from sliding too far.

Important Considerations

When installing barn doors, it’s essential to pay attention to detail. Ensure your door is level, square, and secure throughout the installation process. Check the stability and alignment of the rollers, door jamb, and bottom rail. Consider the weight of your door and choose the appropriate hardware to support it. Keep in mind the available wall space and make sure the door can slide open completely.

  • Reinforce the top rail if using a long, heavy door to prevent sagging over time.
  • Make sure the track is rated for the weight of your door. Heavier doors may require an industrial-grade track.
  • Install in an area protected from weather/moisture if using unfinished wood that could swell.
  • Adjust roller positions slightly if the door no longer glides smoothly after some use.

Choosing and Installing a Handle

Selecting the right handle for your barn door will enhance its functionality and aesthetics. Consider the style and finish of the handle that complements your door design.

  • Measure the desired height and mark the location of the handle
  • Drill pilot holes for the handle’s screws
  • Align the handle with the holes and secure it using the provided screws
  • Test the operation of the handle to ensure smooth opening and closing of the door

By following these simple steps, you can successfully build and install a stylish and functional barn door in your home.

Types of Barn Doors

Single Barn Doors

The most basic barn door style consists of a single panel that slides open and closed on tracks mounted above the doorway. Single doors work well for smaller openings but don’t provide as much privacy or insulation as double doors.

Double Barn Doors

For larger doorways, double barn doors are a popular choice. They are made up of two panels mounted on separate overlapping tracks. When closed, double doors create a more robust barrier than singles. They also add visual interest with their symmetrical two-panel design.

Bifold Barn Doors

Rather than sliding horizontally, bifold barn doors fold open by splitting vertically down the middle like an accordion door. This style saves space by only requiring a narrow track overhead when open. However, bifolds tend to be more expensive than sliding panel doors.

Glass Pane Barn Doors 

For letting in natural light while maintaining privacy, glass barn doors are a modern option. They allow you to see into or out of a room without the door being fully open. Glass panels are often used in combination with solid wood sections for visual balance.

Decorative Barn Doors

Some barn door styles focus more on aesthetic details rather than function alone. Decorative doors may have intricate carved designs, colored panels, or hardware enhancements for an attractive focal point. These stylistic doors often come at a higher price point.

Styles of the Barn Door

Rustic Styles

For that inviting feel, warm, and classic barn door, look no further than rustic-style barn doors. Often crafted from reclaimed wood, these doors embrace the charm of farmhouse style, featuring worn surfaces, weathered paint, and beautifully aged hardware. This option adds character and personality to any room – it’s great for those seeking a cozy, vintage vibe.

  • Reclaimed wood: Using reclaimed barn wood adds authenticity and history to your door, giving it a unique story.
  • Distressed finishes: A worn or chipped paint finish can lend a rugged, time-worn appearance to the door.
  • Iron or rustic hardware: Incorporating black wrought-iron or vintage-looking hardware, such as handles and hinges, can enhance the rustic theme.

Modern Styles

If sleek and contemporary door style is more your type, modern barn doors offer clean lines, minimalist designs, and innovative materials. Glass, metal, or even vinyl can replace traditional wood to create a door that complements your modern décor.

  • Metal door frames: Choose a door with a metal frame for an industrial or minimalist look.
  • Smooth surfaces: Doors with flat-panel designs and crisp lines fit well in modern spaces.
  • Bold colors: Don’t be afraid to go bold with a solid color or two-tone design for your barn door.

DIY Designs

For the hands-on homeowner, DIY projects allow you to personalize and create a barn door that perfectly captures your vision. With a few tools, some creativity, and a bit of elbow grease, you can craft a one-of-a-kind door for your space.

Consider these ideas:

  • Repurposed materials: Try using old pallets, shutters, or corrugated metal sheets for a unique look.
  • Chalkboard paint: Apply chalkboard paint to a flat-panel door, transforming it into a creative, functional messaging space.
  • Mix and match: Combine various materials, colors, and textures to create a door that tells your personal design story.

Using Barn Doors in Different Rooms


Bedroom Doors

Barn doors can be a great addition to your bedroom, offering both functionality and style. They are an excellent choice if the entrance to your bedroom is too cramped for a traditional door. This way, you can add privacy without adding bulk. Plus, barn doors can be easily customized with various textures to create a unique look, from herringbone and shiplap patterns to more classic wood designs.

Living Room Doors

In your living room, barn doors can serve as an elegant and charming statement piece. They can be used as a partition to separate different areas or as an entrance to adjoining rooms, such as a kitchen or a pantry. Barn doors can also help you save space in tight areas where standard doors might not fit. With their sliding mechanism, they avoid taking up valuable floor space. To enhance the farmhouse-style appeal, you can play with various materials and finishes, ensuring it complements your living room’s decor.

Bathroom Doors

For your bathroom, a barn door can be both practical and stylish. One key advantage is that they can offer better use of space, especially in small bathrooms where traditional doors may limit your design options. This type of door can give you more flexibility when planning the layout of your bathroom. Additionally, barn doors can provide privacy while still maintaining a cohesive aesthetic that flows throughout the house. Just make sure to choose a design with proper seals and moisture-resistant materials to prevent damage from humidity.

Barn Doors and Energy Efficiency

Unlike traditional hinged doors, barn doors slide along a track instead of forming a tight seal when closed. This sliding design can negatively impact energy efficiency, especially for heating and cooling. Let’s explore these potential issues.

Drafts and Insulation

Since barn doors don’t completely seal the opening when shut, air can leak through the gap between the door and wall. This allows drafts to form and makes it harder to maintain consistent temperatures near vents. To address this, consider adding weatherstripping around the edges or using draft stoppers to manage airflow.

Room Containment

Barn doors are less effective at keeping heat and air conditioning within a specific room compared to standard doors. Their sliding motion permits more air transfer between adjoining spaces. This may not be ideal if you want to focus heating/cooling on select areas. Evaluate your needs before deciding.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size should my barn door be?

To determine the size of your barn door, measure your existing space and the door opening you’ll be fitting the door into. Measure the height and width of the door opening, as well as the length and width of your space. Barn doors can be found in standard sizes or custom sizes to fit your needs, usually between 1-3 feet wide and 5-6 feet tall.

What is the average budget for a barn door project?

The cost of a barn door project can vary based on the materials you choose and whether you opt for a premade door or decide to build one yourself. On average, expect to spend around $300 for a basic model and up to $1000 or more for custom designs.

How do barn door locks work?

Barn door locks work by latching or holding the door in place from one side, providing privacy and security. There are various types of locks, such as hook and eye, teardrop, or barn door latches. To lock your barn door, simply slide or engage the lock mechanism to secure the door in position.

Are barn doors suitable for bathrooms?

Yes, barn doors can be suitable for bathrooms as long as you choose the right design and hardware. To ensure privacy, consider using a door with no gaps between the panels and selecting a suitable lock. However, barn doors may not be as soundproof as traditional doors, so consider your privacy needs before installing one in a bathroom.

What is a lighting barn door?

A lighting barn door is a piece of equipment attached to a light fixture, typically in photography or filmmaking, to control the direction and shape of the light emitted. Lighting barn doors consist of adjustable flaps that can be moved and positioned to direct the light, creating desired lighting effects or minimizing unwanted light spill.

What’s the difference between a barn door and a regular door?

The main difference between a barn door and a regular door is the way they open and close. A barn door slides along a track parallel to the wall, while a regular door swings open on hinges. Additionally, barn doors often have a more rustic and distinct appearance and are used for design purposes in addition to functionality.

What are common uses for barn doors?

Barn doors are commonly used in residential and commercial spaces as interior doors, room dividers, or closet doors. They work well in settings where floor space is limited, as they don’t require a swinging radius like traditional doors. Barn doors also add a unique design element to homes, offices, or retail spaces, incorporating a rustic or farmhouse aesthetic.

What are the pros and cons of barn doors?

Pros of barn doors include:

  • Space-saving design
  • Easy to install and customize
  • Unique design element
  • Versatile in function (doors, dividers, or closet doors)

Cons of barn doors include:

  • Less soundproof than traditional doors
  • May not provide complete privacy, especially with gaps between panels
  • Could be more challenging to lock securely
  • Requires wall space for the sliding track

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