How to Build & Hang a DIY Barn Door – Step 2

I’m back with more barn door updates! Sadly I don’t have the pretty after shots just yet, but the great news is that I learned A TON throughout the build process and I’m here to dish all about it.

barn_door_progress_drill-7Installing a DIY Barn Door Step One here (installing the header + track)

Today I’m sharing ALL the details in hopes that this info will help you avoid making the same mistakes I did. More specifically I hope this post allows you to avoid the same EPIC mistake I made that forced us to back track and start all over from step one. Yes, you read that right.

1. Empty the ClosetBarn_door_building_process-before

Last time we chatted, I had just finished hanging this barn door track and the wood header to support the track (and door). After that update I emptied out most of the closet and put protective plastic over what remained so it didn’t get dusty.

Rookie Tip: I was initially undecided whether or not I was going to do this step since I didn’t think this project was going to be overwhelmingly dusty. I’m SO glad I did because there was far more dust than I thought and the protective layer of plastic really worked to keep the closet as clean as possible.

2. Remove the Closet CasingBarn_door_building_process-no-casingBarn_door_building_process-remove-casing

After the closet and room were prepped, I removed the casing around the door frame. I removed the casing for two reasons. #1. I was concerned that the casing around the closet door was too thick and would eventually butt up against the finished barn door. #2. I was also concerned about the look of the thicker casing and didn’t want this trim to detract from the sleek look of the barn door. I wasn’t excited about this part because it made the project a lot more work (enter new casing, patch work, painting, etc.) but I’m so glad I did it because it made such a difference in the overall look of the finished product. 

Rookie Tip: Depending on your situation, you may not need to do this step. If you don’t need to remove your door frame’s casing, you can go ahead and skip to Step #7 of this tutorial! 

3. Remove Baseboard

With the casing gone around the door frame, the existing baseboard did not match up to the edge of the door anymore so that had to be removed & replaced as well. I only took the baseboard from this area of the room off because I plan on replacing the rest of the room’s baseboard when I add shiplap in here. I took off existing baseboard and replaced it with the same exact style, just a longer piece that butted up to the new trim around the door (which was thinner than the old casing). One step at a time, right?!

4. Patch & Add Lattice Border

With the casing around the door frame gone, I had two options. I could patch up the drywall and not have any wood work around the door frame OR I could put a thin piece of lattice around the door that would eliminate the patchwork. This slim frame wouldn’t protrude and disrupt the track either.

I chose the second option because adding lattice seemed like a less dusty option and one that would take a little less time since I wouldn’t have to tackle multiple layers of patch work.

Plus, I liked the look of the thin layer of lattice around the door. The lattice also gave me the new guide of where to match the new baseboard up to so I was ready to get started on that step once the lattice was attached (using a nailgun).

5. Patch Baseboards

Barn_door_building_process-no-baseboardThis next step may not be required for everyone, but we patched around the baseboard (and a little bit around the lattice) because this new woodwork didn’t match up perfectly to the old stuff.

6. Hang New Baseboard + ShoeBarn_door_building_process-baseboard

Once the patches were dry, I cut the baseboard and shoe and hung that with the nailgun. Although some of the cuts were tedious and time-consuming, the new look made the time well worth it! I also made sure to cut the baseboard long enough to “butt up” against the lattice trim around the door frame.

7. Pick up Material for Door, Cut to Size

Barn_door_building_process-step4Once all that “prep work” was out-of-the-way, it was finally time to start tackling the barn door! I brainstormed/researched a lot of options when choosing a barn door, and just couldn’t seem to find a pre-made door on a budget.

Barn_door_building_process-side-viewA door that would fit this four-foot wide, seven-foot high closet opening was hard to find. If I had a traditional one door opening, I could have just bought a barn door from most big box hardware stores for reasonably cheap. Since mine was far from standard size, buying one would have cost A LOT of money. So I decided to DIY the door and I’m happy to report that I bought the supplies for this door for less than $85 (+ the cost of paint eventually).

Barn_door_building_process-sideI bought a piece of 1/2 inch thick MDF, which was 49 inches wide (perfect!!) and had it cut down in stores to 86 inches long. Then I bought 6 pieces of 1×4 MDF strips to border the entire door and add depth to the back. I also bought 2 pieces of 1×3 MDF to add to the middle in order to create a more modern barn door design. The only other supplies I needed were nails for the nail gun, caulk for the seams, primer, and a wood filler to fill in the seams/nail holes.

8. Attach molding

Barn_door_building_process-track-hardwareBuilding the actual barn door was probably the easiest part of this entire project. I cut the strips, laid them out, and then used a nail gun to secure everything in place.

Then we flipped over the barn door and put two vertical strips along the back of each side so that it was thick enough to attach to the hardware. Plus, those vertical boards cut down on the gap between the door and the wall.

Barn_door_building_process-plastic-wood-fillerTo fill in the seams and the nail holes, we tried this product, but you can also use putty + caulk for this step. We let the patchwork dry and cleaned off the excess to find smooth holes and filled in seams.

9. Attaching the hardwareBarn_door_building_process-hardware

This was a tedious part of the process because there was NO ROOM for error! It’s hard to give tips here because every barn door situation will be different, but I would say to measure multiple times and use a level to make sure you are drilling your pilot holes in the perfect spots!

We measured and leveled the hardware as much as possible to ensure that we were doing just that. Then we drilled pilot holes before eventually putting the hardware on the door and screwing in the large bolts that came with the track. You’ll probably need some type of pliers during this step to tighten the screws as much as you can!

10. Hang the Door (enter EPIC fail here)

Barn_door_building_process-hardware-track-from-belowjpgIt was finally time to hang the DIY barn door on the track and we were SO excited. We carefully put it up on the track (it’s pretty heavy… and big!) to find out that it slowly slid open without us wanting it to move. [move hand to forehead and insert swear word here]

barn_door_progress_drill-7The track we installed in this post was not perfectly level and that small imperfection created a big problem for the barn door. The track was 3/8 of an inch off, which led the track to glide “downhill” when it wasn’t supposed to. Oh my goodness, I was shocked… and then pissed! How could that happen?! How could such a small imperfection lead to such a big problem?!

Barn_door_building_process-step4I share this epic fail so that you don’t make the same mistake that I did. I can’t stress enough how the track needs to be installed perfectly level so the door does not wheel on its own (oops). This minor error required us to take down the entire header and track and start over with the hanging process.

It was SO frustrating and such a waste of time, but in the end it was definitely the right thing to do. We probably could have lived with the first option because it did stay in place if I put it in place and walked away slowly, but over time that would’ve driven me crazy! Starting fresh was unfortunately what we had to do.

11. Prime & Paint the Door, Trim, Baseboard & WallBarn_door_building_process-painted_white

Once the NEW header and track was installed, we put the door back on the track and it was finally perfect, which meant it was time to start painting!

So far we only primed because I’m in the middle of testing out paint samples for the door. Once I decide on the perfect grey, we’ll finish painting and reveal the gorgeous new space. I know it’s not done yet, but wow…. this door is already making a stunning statement in our office. But just so we’re all on the same page, here’s an updated list of what still needs to get done.

Barn Door To-Do List:

  • Choose/Order Track
  • Install Track  (Step by Step Tutorial Here)
  • Remove casing around the closet
  • Remove old baseboard that currently butts up to the casing
  • Patch/Paint around the door frame
  • Patch/Paint/caulk the piece of wood holding the track
  • Install new baseboard
  • Paint new baseboard
  • Build the Barn Door
  • Paint/Caulk the Barn Door
  • Choose Paint color and paint door
  • Choose/Order Handle Hardware for the door
  • Attach Hardware to Door
  • Clean/Organize Closet from all the dust
  • Hang the Door & Celebrate!!!

how to Build & Hang a

To see the next (and final steps) of this DIY barn door along with the big REVEAL, check out the next post in this series right here.
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  • Heather

    How frustrating it could be off by such a little bit and yet cause a big issue. That is something that would totally happen to me…every time! We are thinking about adding sliding doors to shut the office off from the rest of the house but now I am all intimidated hahah

    (and I have to ask….was it me Heather that won the hairpin legs or another Heather? :-D)

    • I swear you can do it, Heather… especially after learning from all my mistakes!

      Unfortunately it’s a different Heather. We emailed her last week but we wanted to announce it on the blog so everyone heard who the lucky winners were. Thanks so much for checking though!

  • Erin

    wow that looks amazing so far!!! i can’t even imagine the frustration to have to make sure everything is level again!

    • Thanks Erin! Although it was very frustrating… the finished product makes it well worth it!

  • Thanks for the idea, Liz! We would love to do a post about that next time we tackle this project!