Sliding Barn style doors offer a functional solution similar to pocket doors but without the hassle that pocket doors typically come with. Sliding barn style doors are excellent for large openings where a swing style door might prevent furniture placement. Because the door is hung from a track the door can be slid along the face of a wall into place, and stored on the wall when not in use. A sliding door can be used for almost any door opening as long as there is sufficient room on either side of the opening for the door panel when not covering the door opening.
Choosing wood for your barn door isn’t difficult as long as you don’t stress out about picking the perfect material. Barn doors are typically built from locally available materials. In most cases, they are built from rough sawn lumber that’s similar to the barn boards used to build the barn. So what I suggest is sticking to locally available species of wood. For my barn door I chose locally available rough sawn White Pine. Before buying the wood, you’ll need to make a rough sketch of your door so that you can get all the material you need.
There are more barn door designs than you can imagine. So how do you choose a barn door design? Well I suggest doing a Google image search or searching on Pinterest until you find a design that works for your space. Keep in mind that some designs might not look great with the door opening size that you have. The proportion of height to width can make some designs look strange. I went with a very traditional looking barn door design that is very popular here in New England.
The design that I built is done using two layers of wood. The front “face” frame was built using 1″ thick (5/4) rough sawn White Pine that I purchased from our local lumber yard. The back layer of wood is rough sawn White Pine that’s 3/4″ thick that I had the lumber yard turn into tongue and groove. I wanted tongue and groove because Pine tends to shrink a lot and I didn’t’ want to see through any cracks that open up over time as the Pine shrinks. Another option would be ship lap style joints that would also provide the same benefit for shrinking.
I installed the first piece of tongue and groove flush to the outside edge of the vertical rail of the face frame, I clamped it in place, applied wood glue and finally screwed it from the back side. Next I continued to install each piece of tongue and groove wood to the previous using the wood glue and screws.
Make sure you clean up any wood glue that squeezes out of the joints before it dries, otherwise it will effect your finishing process and look bad. I like using this type of wood glue because it can be easily cleaned up with a damp rag.
Finishing the barn door provides a tremendous amount of options. Options includes painting the door, staining the door, and a wide range of faux finishes. Another quick search online and you can find some really amazing faux finishes that offer a really cool “weathered” and “old fashioned” look.
For this project I decided to try one of the faux finishing techniques that I recently read about. I wanted the rough sawn Pine to look older and weathered as if the boards were removed from an old barn. The finish I chose to use involves two steps; applying a coat of black tea followed by a solution made from white vinegar and steel wool.
The picture at the right shows the door part way through the finish process. At the time of the photo the entire door had already been coated with black tea. The areas that are grey had just been coated with the vinegar and steel wood solution. The transformation is almost immediate and it’s really incredible how well it works!
I’ll post another article with specifics on how to make the solutions for weathered wood if you’re interested in more information.