how to build a modern farmhouse barn door

How to Build a Modern Farmhouse Barn Door

During the build of our home, we knew we’d need a barn door at the top of the stairs. I knew it wouldn’t be the first DIY project I tackled, but at some point, I’d take the plunge. I found a great tutorial and then customized it for my needs. It’s funny that I was feeling intimidated to build a barn door because it was the easy part compared to installing it. And then after Jeremy and I installed it, I felt silly for worrying about the installation. It’s not easy, but it’s not hard – you’re really at the mercy of well written hardware instructions and your own research. This post is on how to build a modern farmhouse barn door, but I will also post about how we installed our barn door with our highly rated hardware from Amazon. Be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you don’t miss a thing.

How to Build a Modern Farmhouse Barn Door

The first step in building a barn door, is to measure the width and height of your opening. I built my door 1/2″ taller and 4″ wider than the opening. The rule of thumb is 1/2 to 3/4″ taller than the opening, and 4 to 5″ wider than the opening. I also used primed pine boards from Home Depot. I used 1×6 boards as the background, 1×4 boards as the frame and inner supports, and 1×2 boards to trim the outer edge which covers the seams. To hold everything together, I used wood glue and 18-gauge one inch brad nails. If you’re building an extra wide or extra tall door, you may want to consider a different construction.

How to Build a Modern Farmhouse Barn Door

The most frustrating part of this door design is that wood shrink, bows, and moves after the fact. If I had a planer and clamps, I could have secured the boards together better, but I ended up with some gaps which makes this design a consideration for privacy. In our case, the doorway is around the corner looking into a wall so there’s no privacy issues for us. However, this design would not work for a bathroom – for privacy needs, I would have used plywood and a different technique to get the look I wanted. For a closet, craft room, dining room, etc. I think it would be fine. OK, so once you have the measurements of your door opening, you can calculate how much wood you’ll need. Keep in mind that you’ll also need a header board to install the barn door, I used a primed 1×4.


How to Build a Modern Farmhouse Barn Door

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How to Build a Modern Farmhouse Barn Door

Sometimes it’s easier to show and explain a building process, so I made a YouTube video, but here are the basic constructions steps:

  • Measure your door opening
  • Determine the size of your door
  • Purchase primed wood
  • Measure, mark, and cut the 1×6 boards the length of your door minus 3/4 inch (this accounts for the 1×2 trim board at the top of the door)
  • Lay out 1×6 boards on a flat surface, use a thin layer of wood glue in between each board – allow glue to dry
  • Measure the width along the top of the laid-out 1×6 boards and cut a 1×4
  • Use a level or straight edge to make sure the laid-out 1×6 boards are level, glue the 1×4 across the top and brad nail it onto each 1×6
  • Measure the width along the bottom of the laid-out 1×6 boards and cut a 1×4
  • Use a level or straight edge to make sure the laid-out 1×6 boards are level, glue the 1×4 across the bottom and brad nail it onto each 1×6
  • Measure the length between the top and bottom 1×4 boards along the left-side, cut a 1×4 board to fit, glue, and nail
  • Measure the length between the top and bottom 1×4 boards along the right-side, cut a 1×4 board to fit, glue, and nail
  • (At this point, I laid 2×8 boards across the door while the wood glue dried, but the boards still shrunk and moved. I added a diagonal support board for support but pulled it up and added three horizontal support boards to hold all the 1×6 boards together – no more bowing.)
  • Cut three 1×4 boards to go across the door for support, measure to space them out evenly, glue, and nail
  • Once the wood glue is dry, measure the left-side and cut the 1×2 with one end cut at a 45-degree angle. The three 1×2 boards will trim out the door and cover the outside seams. There’s no need to have a 1×2 along the bottom because that seam won’t be seen. Next cut the top 1×2 – both ends are cut at a 45-degree angle, glue, and nail.
  • Finally, measure and cut the right-side 1×2 board, the top at a 45-degree angle and the bottom cut is straight. Glue and nail.
  • Once the glue is dry, be mindful that the boards can bow and move. If possible, keep the door laying down flat.
  • Final step is to paint. I sand in between the two coats using a 220-grit sponge. The green color I used is Still Water by Sherwin Williams.

how to build a modern farmhouse barn door

how to build a modern farmhouse barn door

how to build a modern farmhouse barn door

how to build a modern farmhouse barn door

how to build a modern farmhouse barn door

How to Build a Modern Farmhouse Barn Door

The steps for how to build a modern farmhouse barn door are pretty simple, you just want to do things in the correct order, measure twice or three times, keep your boards flat, use extra-large clamps if you have them, and be OK with board spaces or movement. Painting is my least favorite DIY to do, but with quality paint and the right tools, it’s not hard and the door isn’t so big that it’s daunting. I love the way this modern farmhouse barn door turned out. In fact, having the three horizontal support boards gives it more style and I love the look even more. The door is heavy, but I can lift it on my own. It’s really important to note that I kept the door lying flat as much as possible because the boards will bow. And once the barn door is installed and hanging it’s not going to bow. We are waiting for the door guide to ship, and once it does, I’ll add that step to the installation post. One thing to note about the installation, you really need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but be sure to read reviews because sometimes even the manufacturer makes mistakes. My YouTube video and blog post will share our exact steps for the hardware we used, and I highly recommend our hardware – it works great, and I didn’t pull out my hair installing it.

Thank you so much for checking out this post on how to build a modern farmhouse barn door. You can save any of the photos to Pinterest for later or you can share this post with a friend who may be wanting to DIY their own barn door. You can shop my favorites on Amazon, and I offer paint palettes in my Etsy shop. With every DIY project completed and ready to enjoy I am even more convinced that if I can use power tools and create a home we love, you can too. Every space has a story and I love creating my home’s story.


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