Easy Sliding Barn Door How-To

Easy Sliding Barn Door How-To

Doors perfect for small spaces slide instead of swing.

Which is why we came up with this easy sliding barn door how-to. Living in NYC we are limited in space and resources, so we wanted to create a door that was easy to make and economical. We not only decided to put a sliding barn door in our master bedroom, but also in our kitchen, hiding our tool storage room. The finished project is gorgeous and dresses up our classy white kitchen—and even better, the whole project cost us around $300!

We lay it all out for you below with pictures as a reference guide. We also have a downloadable .pdf here for your convenience.

Let’s start you off with the shopping list and tool guide:

Shopping List Tools Needed
7-1”x6’ Clear Cedar Planks Table Saw
20 – 2” Zinc Plated Mending Plates Miter Saw
1 box 16 gauge x 1” finish nails Finish Nailer and compressor
30+ pieces of assorted reclaimed wood Socket Wrench
220 grit sandpaper Sander
Elmer’s Carpenter’s Color Change Wood Filler Power Drill/Driver/Drill Bits
Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue Stud Finder
Sliding Barn Door Hardware Kit 2 ft. Level
Stain system or paste wax

Tape Measure

Some tips before you get started: Read the following instructions thoroughly before you start. Do not skimp on personal safety. Wear proper clothing and always protect your eyes. Only use tools and machinery that you’re comfortable with. Some of the steps below will require two people to complete.

Now, let’s get to work!

1.) Determine your door width by measuring your door opening and adding 4” (2” on either side of the opening). Buy a sliding barn door kit that is twice that width. We recommend buying a track that is not pre-drilled so that you can drill your own holes to have them best line up with the studs in your walls. This is completely preference.

2.) Our door is designed to cover a 32” x 78” door opening. Adjust yours accordingly. This door will measure 35” x 1.25” x 80.75”. Make sure you take into consideration the height of the wheels you choose in your door hardware kit when deciding on how tall to make your door—especially if you have low ceilings.

3.) Lay down 6 – 1”x 6’ cedar planks. Choose desired orientation. We chose to expose the rough side of the planks. Flip the boards to the side that will be hidden and number the boards (1-6) and put an arrow indicating which direction is up. Then, measure and cut the boards with a miter saw or circular saw to 1.5” less your desired height. Ours was 79.25”. You’ll be creating a frame around your door that will add an 1.5” to its overall height.

4.) Use a clamp to join two boards together and attach 4 mending strips along the seams. Evenly space the mending strips as best you can.

5.) Continue this process with the rest of your boards, lining up the mending strips all the way across.

6.) Use Elmer’s Carpenter’s Color Change Wood Filler to fill the seams between your planks. This will prevent light infiltration.

7.) Lay out your reclaimed wood and decide on a basic design. Then cut the desired pieces to 1/2” thickness using a table saw. Our reclaimed wood comes from wood pallets and a few different home demolitions, so it varied in thickness. You’ll want your wood to be different in appearance, but essentially the same thickness. 

8.) Using a miter saw, cut each piece to desired length. We did a staggering pattern. Start at the bottom of your cedar planks and build the foundation of your pattern by laying out the first “row” in its entirety. You may have to use a table saw to rip the last piece to the appropriate width of the door. 

9.) Now you’re ready to attach your first row of reclaimed wood. Take Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue and use a ‘s’ pattern, being careful not to get too close to the edges of your reclaimed wood pieces to avoid the glue seeping on either side. Carefully lay your first piece down at the desired location. Use a Finish Nailer with 16 gauge x 1” finish nails to secure the boards into place.  We put a finish nail every twelve inches on each side of the board. Repeat this process to complete the first row of the door.

10.) Continue up the door with your design, row by row, by laying out your desired design first, glueing, and then nailing into place until you have completely covered the cedar base. This process remains unique to each door and desired design. Many times we had to cut pieces on the table saw to create our desired look. It’s like a puzzle. Have fun and get creative, but make sure each piece sits tightly next to the other.

11.) Sand the perimeter of the door with a palm sander and 220 grit sanding paper to smooth out any inconsistencies. 

12.) Turn the door over to expose the cedar planks. We wanted to stain this side of the door (we used Minwax’s Ebony). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying stain. If you want to keep the cedar looking natural, we recommend rubbing it with paste wax. 

13.) Now we will create our frame. From your remaining 1”x6’ cedar plank, rip 4 – 1.25” strips using your table saw. If you’d like to stain, paint, or do any other finish to your frame, do that step here. You can do touch ups once it’s fastened to the door.

14.) The frame we are creating is going to have mitered edges. To do this, get your interior measurements, which is the height and width of the cedar planks, ours is 79.25” x 33”. Mark two of the strips with your long measurements and two with your short measurements. From here you will make two mitered cuts on each strip. Set your miter saw to 90 degrees and make sure it’s oriented properly for the cut you are making. Once all your cuts are made, dry fit the frame around your reclaimed wood cladded cedar planks. If done correctly, the strips should fit tightly together. Like the reclaimed wood strips, put a thin bead of Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue the length of each strip before setting in place. Once in place, use your Finish Nailer to fasten the frame to the door. 

15.) Because we stained the backside of our door we completed the process with polyurethane. Skip this step if you’ve already applied paste wax or some other wood finisher. We applied a paste wax to the reclaimed wood. Congrats! You have a gorgeous reclaimed wood barn door!

16.) Next you’ll attach the wheels onto the top of your door. Feel free to follow your door hardware manufacturer’s specific instructions. In our case, we centered each wheel onto one of the cedar planks, each one in from the very end. Next, drill your pilot holes and screw the hardware into place. You’ll then need to figure out the best height placement for the track—this will depend on your existing moulding, or lack thereof. 

17.) Once your height is determined, locate your studs with your stud finder and mark where each stud is at 1” below the height you wish to hang your track. This is because you’ll be drilling your hole in the center of the 2” track. The door will sit 1” higher than this mark.

18.) Drill your pilot holes in your wall and, if your track is not pre-drilled, drill the holes in your track corresponding to the holes in your wall. You’re ready to hang your track.

19.) Take the lag bolt and thread it through your track and then the spacer. Tighten the bolt with a socket wrench, but not all the way. Continue this step for each hole. Once all lag bolts have been installed, go back and tighten all.

20.) You can now place your door on the track. Determine where to install the stoppers at each end. Then, install your door guide onto the floor so that it contains the door regardless if it’s open or closed. We like the U-channel — this allows us to not have to create a channel in the bottom of the door. Like everything else, once you have your door guide’s desired location, drill pilot holes into the floor and then secure the guide into place.
21.) We decided to attach a handle we found at a flea market! You can get creative with this as well—-or go without a handle. It’s totally up to you.

That’s it! What cost us a couple hundred bucks added value to our home, saved space, and created a unique look for us to love for years to come.

Looking for more DIY inspiration? Join the Elmer’s DIY community for tips, tricks, video how-tos, promotions, and much more!

Although this is an Elmer’s sponsored post, the ideas and opinions are all our own!

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