The First Step to Hanging a DIY Barn Door

It’s been a little while since I last checked in with some office progress and so I’m excited to be back with an update today.


Here’s a mood board of the original plan for the room in our home that used to be a guest room and is now transitioning into our new office. And since sharing the plan, we cleared out the room, painted it white, added a DIY fauxdenza and even had time to organize that same fauxdenza (hiding the printer inside of it!).

A bit of the design has changed since creating this original mood board (I ordered a shelving unit instead of hanging shelves on the wall), but one thing that has not changed are my plans to swap out our current closet doors with a DIY barn door.

Office Floor Plan

The closet is located in the corner of the room and it’s home to the only access point to our crawl space. Not only are our current doors very plain-looking but I want to swap them out for a wider barn door because I’m confident that this change will allow easier access into the crawl… and into the closet in general.

Anndddddd, I think the doors could definitely add some much-needed style to that plain corner. With those thoughts in mind, I have set out to DIY a barn door, for the first time ever. I’ve done a lot of research before diving into this project but as I already found out, I’m learning a lot along the way.

Today we’ll dive into step one (of maybe 3?) of the DIY Barn Door project. There’s a lot to cover and I’m hoping I can break it down as much as possible so others looking to incorporate a DIY barn door into their home can learn from me (and my mistakes!).


Here’s what the plain closet corner looked like before we started this project. closet_door_before

The closet doors are not awful or damaged, I just think a little DIY love (and color) in this corner can make a big difference. Closet_Door_before_horiztonalThe old doors came with the house and were typical bypass closet doors. But because they were bypass I could never open up the entire closet at once, which always annoyed me a bit. I’m excited that the new barn door system will allow us to open the barn door and see into the entire closet, which will also give us better access to the crawl space.

Rookie Tip: I chose to tackle step one, installing the barn door track, with the existing closet doors still attached. I was hoping that the doors would protect the stuff in the closet from the dust/mess from this step. My plan is to remove the existing doors, empty the closet, and cover everything remaining in the closet with plastic before starting the next step. 

Adding Some Reinforcement

Before we even started the project, I did a lot of research on barn doors and tracks. I thought about buying a barn door and track instead of DIY-ing, but because my closet doors are two doors instead of one, the sizes I needed would require a custom order… with a HUGE price tag.

I did a lot of research and eventually decided to DIY the door and buy a made-to-order track from Amazon (this one!). I chose to go with an 8 ft. track that was by far the most affordable I could find, and it can hold up to 300 lbs!

Closet_Door_progress_bbefore_attaching_headerThe only negative about this made-to-order track system was that the pre-drilled holes on the track did not match up to the studs in my wall. This meant if I hung the track without first hanging a “header” onto the wall to support the track, I would be drilling into drywall and not catching studs. Up to 300 lbs of track + door would never be supported without hitting studs, so I was forced to add a 1 x 8 (painted the same color as the wall) for extra reinforcement.

Rookie Tip: If your track matches up with your studs (or if you want to drill new holes in the track) maybe you can skip this step, but I did not have that option.

So after the piece of wood was cut to size (about 2 inches longer than the 8 ft track), I primed and painted it so it would blend with the existing wall color as much as possible. Then I set out to hang that sucker on the wall. Casey and I did so by first finding and marking all of the studs in my wall.

Closet_Door_turned_barn_door_progress-levelThen we drilled pilot holes on the wood and held the wood up, making sure it was level.

Closet_Door_turned_barn_door_progress-ladderOnce we tripled checked that the board was level and lined up with the studs, we used 2″ stainless steel screws and screwed the board into place. This step took at least two people and some serious muscle to make sure the screws were screwed as far into the studs as possible.

Rookie Tip: If I were to do this step again, I would use lag bolts instead of screws. Not that the screws didn’t do their job, but lag bolts would be even stronger. And in a situation like this, the stronger… the better! 

Installing the Track
barn door hardware

Once the header was installed, it was time to hang the track on top of the header.track for barn doorWe held up the track and made sure it was level before marking where each of the screws needed to be placed. Then we put the track back on the floor and drilled pilot holes into the header at those marks.barn_door_progress_drill

This part sent us straight to the hardware store and ended up wasting a lot of time, so we share it with you so that you can learn from our mistakes. You need a socket and a bit for your drill in order to tighten the screws and finish hanging the track. We did not have a socket or a bit to attach into our drill (we needed size 13mm) so make sure you have this tool!

barn_door_progress_drill-4 Once we had the right socket + bit, screwing in the large lag bolts was a breeze! We were nervous, but it was probably the easiest part of the whole process.barn door progress drill-6

Rookie Tip: The track NEEDS to be exactly level before moving on because this will ensure the barn door will glide properly and not on its own. There is NO room for error… the track needs to be level, no exceptions! 
Closet_Door_turned_barn_door_hardware_trackAnd that’s exactly where we left off. I plopped one of the rolling pieces of hardware onto the track to see how it would glide but didn’t take any more specific action in this phase.

What’s Next?barn_door_progress_drill-7

Now that the track is installed (the project is probably 20% done), here’s what’s left on my to-do list.

DIY Barn Door To-Do List

  • Choose/Order Track
  • Install Track
  • 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/Order Handle Hardware for the door
  • Attach Hardware to Door
  • Clean/Organize Closet from all the dust
  • Hang the Door & Celebrate!!!barn_door_progress_drill-7

Obviously, I still have a LOT of work ahead of me, but I’m excited to keep on moving. This project is very new to me so I’m bound to learn a lot along the way (heck, I already have!). But that’s what this blog is all about, right?! Learning along the way and gaining confidence to try bigger and better projects… even if these projects seem intimidating at first.

Update: You can check out the next steps of the super detailed barn door tutorial HERE and then see the final reveal of this gorgeous door here!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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