Building a barn door for a closet

As part of a major kitchen remodel project, we moved the old laundry room up to a 2nd floor closet. With the washer and dryer occupying about a third of the old closet space, we needed an elegant solution to cover the rest of the old closet door space.

We settled on a rustic barn door option. We already had a little experience with distressing new boards to make them look old (from the remodeled kitchen ceiling), so we decided to use that same method on the door.


I built the door frame using 1x4 select pine boards. The door ended up being pretty wide to cover the space, at 51 inches. I left about an inch of space below the and then calculated the height to reach about 2 inches above the top of the opening. Overall our door height ended up at 80 inches.

Take care to make sure the frame is square, so the door will end up that way!

To keep the door light but strong, I used 6 inch tongue and groove boards to build the door panel. Besides being easy to connect and assemble, the boards have an interesting appeal when they are done because of all the vertical lines they leave. We could have purchased 12 of those boards and not had any seams (joints) between board-ends, but because they were 12' long, I could buy just 7 and use the cut off tails to build some of the rows. This ended up looking pretty nice and adds to the rustic appearance. I used one more piece of 1x4 pine as a diagonal cross brace to finish the look.

Allowing joints between some of the boards adds to the rustic look, and subtracts from the cost.

The entire door was painted with bright white paint. Because we were headed for a rustic look anyway, not much effort needs to be made to eliminate brush strokes or even to get very consistent with the paint coverage. If you're bad at painting, this is the job for you.

Construction complete, painting underway

Once that coat of paint was dry, the whole door was stained (in an inconsistent, haphazard way) with the dark mahogany stain right over the paint. It's especially important not to do a good job with the stain because the imperfections in the stain are what make the whole thing look rustic and antiqued.

Painting complete, stain is next.

Imperfect staining job? Sure thing.

Once the stain was dry, I went over the door again with an orbital sander to dull down some of the harsh lines left by the stain. The idea was to make the stain look old, without sanding through it and into the paint.

It took a little effort to find a nice looking set of barn door hardware that wasn't too expensive, but we picked this one, ordered from (with 2 day prime shipping, yay!).

EWEI'S Homewares 13 Feet Dark Coffee Steel Double Sliding Barn Wood Door Hardware Kit (affiliate link)

The hardware itself is good quality, nice and heavy, with a clean and smooth black finish. The pulleys roll smoothly and quietly, and the "beam" for the pulleys to roll in came pre-drilled on 16" intervals, which should make it easier to install. At about $120, it's a great price, especially considering that it comes with rails that will help you cover up to 13 feet (about 6.5 feet of doorway).

Because our doorway was only 51", I cut both metal rails down to 51". The hardware kit comes with a nice bracket that easily connects the two halves, so we ended up with a 102" rail on the wall above the door. This leaves just exactly enough room for the door to slide completely out of the way of the opening.

Completed door!

Unfortunately, the studs in our wall weren't 16 inches apart. Some of them were as close as 13 inches, so using those pre-drilled holes (in the metal beam) wouldn't work without anchoring some of them in drywall. I was too afraid to trust a heavy, rolling door to drywall, so decided to hang a mounting board (1"x4" pine) first and screw it into the wall studs. After that was up and painted to match the wall, the door hardware mounted easily and solidly. I highly recommend checking it with a level a few times during the process to make sure your door ends up rolling cleanly and easily later!




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