Sliding barn door
Photo by Paul Orenstein

The pros and cons of adding sliding barn doors to your home

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This article was originally published in the Early Summer 2016 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

Rolling, barn-style doors may be the in thing, but they’re more than just trendy. At the cottage, they can be a useful and attractive alternative to a swinging door or a pocket door.

While you can buy doors intended for a barn-door installation (Home Hardware and Home Depot have lightweight K- and Z-style doors), virtually any door can be converted to a barn door with special tracks and hangers. This hardware is now easy to find in a wide range of styles.

The pros

Unlike a swinging door, a barn door doesn’t sweep across usable floor area‚ so it suits tight, crowded spaces such as hallways. Installing a barn door, new or as a retrofit over an existing opening, is a straightforward DIY job, much easier than framing a swinging door or, harder still, adding a pocket door. As a bonus, the rustic look of barn-door hardware suits the cottage better than a lot of modern, off-the-shelf doors.

The cons

Barn doors, when open, may block light switches or power outlets, and they require enough adjacent wall to roll across. Plus, that wall space becomes tricky to use for art or shelving.

The installation

Many mounting tracks can be adjusted so the fasteners line up with studs in the wall, but others have pre-drilled holes that don’t necessarily align. No problem if you’re building the wall; just install 2×4 blocking in anticipation of the track. If the wall is already built and finished, there’s an easy fix: attach a 1×4 board to the wall (secured to the studs), and mount the track onto the board.

You could install a flush-mounted pull or a floor-mounted guide (which keeps the door from bang- ing in a breeze). Both are router jobs: creating a recess for the pull and cutting a groove in the bottom of the door.

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