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Choosing Barn Door Hardware For Interior and Exterior Doors

When a swinging door isn’t an option many homeowners turn to one of the hottest interior design options: a barn door. But choosing the best barn door hardware isn’t always simple. Since these doors come in a variety of colors, weight capacity and mounting options a bit of research is required.

In this article we’ll review the various types of barn door hardware, interior and exterior options and some tricks of the trade on how to install them.

Barn Door Hardware Basics

Solid Wood Barn Door Hardware

Your first look at barn door hardware might make it seem like choosing a kit is simple: just select the right length kit for your door and off you go.

But, there are a few styles and features of this unique hardware that are worth understanding first:

  • Metal differences between standard black paint and stainless will provide a visual appeal
  • Wheel size can be an accent – or something you want to hide
  • Door weight matters for thick or large doors
  • Dual door kits that mount on either side of the frame
  • Or, dual door bypass kits that allow wide openings to be covered using just one side of the door frame

Types of Barn Door Hardware

Single Door Barn Door Hardware

From black finishes to stainless steel, ornate J-hooks that hide the wheels to oversized wheels there are a huge variety of barn door hardware shapes, sizes and weight capacities. 

Stainless Steel Barn Door Hardware

Stainless Steel Barn Door Hardware

On some barn doors black hardware is used to make the door stand out and minimize the visual attention of the hardware.

But for a door hardware that stands out a stainless steel rail combined with a similar quality handle makes for an attractive final look. 

When looking for this style of hardware, keep an eye out for:

  • Stainless grade if you intend to subject the kit to salt air
  • Mounting style
  • Maximum door thickness
  • All bolts and hardware are stainless
  • J-hangers have turn-style stops to prevent the door from jumping the tracks

Ornate Wheel Barn Door Hardware

Winsoon Black Large Spoke Barn Door

While some designs call for the hardware to be minimized, others look to the hardware to stand out. And, rather than hide the wheels a popular choice is emphasizing the wheels that ride on the rails.

But there is a secrete benefit to this type of wheel: the larger wheels operate more smoothly if running on quality bushings.

Split Panel Barn Door Hardware

Winsoon Split Panel Barn Door Hardware

The biggest issue for many with barn doors is balance. 

Unlike a pocket door where the door disappears into the wall when closed, a barn door is visible. Which means a large door is hanging to either the right or left of the opening for standard 30 to 36-inch openings.

The solution? A split panel barn door kit that balances the opening.

Bypass Barn Door Hardware

Smart Smith Bypass Barn Door Hardware

For openings over six feet that require two doors there isn’t always space for a door on each side.

The solution?

A bypass kit that allows two doors to slide closed, with the outermost door jutting just past the door behind to allow openings up to 12-feet (sometimes more) to be concealed.

The tradeoff? The barn doors won’t be flush when closed as the bypass is “fixed”. But when both the left and right side can’t be used this option allows for concealing areas that otherwise couldn’t.

Standard Black Single Barn Door Hardware

Barn Door Hardware

The solution for most openings? A standard, black single door kit that installs on a headboard over just about any opening. Available in almost any style, lengths up to 10-feet and colors from black to stainless this is the standard barn door style.

And, for most budgets, an economical pick.

Two Door Barn Door Hardware

Two Sided Barn Door Hardware

For larger openings than a standard door can handle then most carpenters will turn to a longer rail that is evenly spaced on each side of the opening. 

While similar to a smaller passage “split” rail, these kits are heavier duty as they can span openings up to 15-feet wide. 

Installation is similar to single door kits, and require heavy duty mounting kits usually to a headboard.

Bifold Barn Door Hardware

Bifold Dual  Barn Door Hardware

When it comes to hardware there is usually a surprise or two.

And in barn door hardware that surprise is a kit that supports bi-folding doors. While perhaps odd at first, this kit allows openings that weren’t designed for doors to be covered. 

And if standard-sized doors are your only option for openings over 72-inches a pair of smaller (big box store) doors is an economical option. 

While these require the doors to open into the space like a closet door they offer a unique solution.

Exterior Barn Door Hardware

Exterior Barn Door Hardware

Want to add a barn door to an outdoor shed or other space? Well, there are a variety of solutions built to take the weather. While not designed to perform as “smooth” due to the abuse, box designs are popular as they keep the wheels concealed from leaves and other debris.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Barn Doors Need A Bottom Track?​

Most barn doors do not require a bottom track as they use a single door guide that keeps the barn door on a straight path parallel to the wall. This door guide is typically screwed to the wall and has a roller system that keeps the door from floating in and out during operation.

How do you measure for barn door hardware?

The best way to measure is to find the width of the opening, match that to a door you have pre-selected and then follow the barn door hardware kit instructions. Consider the final width of trim to make sure the door will open as far as needed and properly shut to seal off the area behind.

How thick should a barn door header be?

The standard thickness of a barn door header is 3/4-inch to provide room to clear trim. However, if your trim is thicker you may need a thicker headboard or alter the trim.

How much weight can a barn door hold?

Barn doors are rated by the manufacturer for a specific weight capacity. Generally, most doors are under 200-pounds and a barn door kit is available for that weight. However, for dual doors be sure to total the weight of both doors and refer to overall load limits.

How do you measure for barn door hardware?

You’re probably thinking that a barn door might have a gap to see into the next room. And you’d be right. Due to the design both privacy, light and sound are different with a barn door than a standard door.

And that’s why barn door measurements involve a little bit of preference, wall size, consideration for trim and of course the door you intend to put in place.

The folks over at International Door Company have a great visual guide for measuring barn door widths that will help decide what hardware you need.

Can you use a barn door for a bathroom?

With the right overlay and a privacy latch a barn door can be used for a bathroom. And there are latches made for barn door privacy that will match just about any barn door hardware you choose.

Using a barn door for your bathroom also opens an opportunity to install a mirror on the bath side.

Do you need to remove trim when installing a barn door?

In almost all cases the answer is no – the trim stays on the existing door. Since the trim around a door conceals the shims and rough opening, removing the trim would require significant repair and likely a professional drywall crew.

However, for new home construction there is certainly an opportunity to finish the wall on both sides and avoid use of trim.

Can you soundproof a barn door?

This is a tough one. Due to the design a barn door doesn’t create a tight seal so sound has ample opportunity to leak through to the adjacent room.

A few options to soundproof include:

    • Use of a weatherstrip on the sides and bottom of the door.
    • Remove trim and create as tight of a seal as possible between the wall and barn door.
    • Use a larger door.

What is stainless steel 304?

So why do all the barn door hardware kits made from stainless steel say “304”?

First, the 304 refers to the grade of the stainless steel and the contents of nickel that compose it. For home appliances such as refrigerators and even commercial settings it is a common grade.

But, a higher grade exists that is typically used in marine applications: stainless steel 316. So what’s the difference between the two? Molybdenum. This element is the rust-resisting element and is only found in a trace quantity in 304. But in 316 stainless it is 2-3% of the overall composition.

Now do you need 316 for your barn doors? Unless you are planning for an exterior barn door the 304 stainless should be just fine.

Where do you buy barn doors?

With their rise in popularity just about all of the big box stores carry them. And they are also available online at Amazon in a variety of styles and dimensions.

Now in my woodworking career I’ve made hundreds of wood doors and there are a few things you’ll want to consider when purchasing:

  • Inspect the door when received for warping and wood damage. Reject it for any flaws.
  • Real wood vs. composite construction. Due to cost a number of doors are constructed using mashed up wood (MDF). Generally this is just fine unless you are seeking true authenticity.
  • Some wood is easier to apply a finish coat to than others. Pine and maple are notorious for “blotching” when stained and can be a headache. Depending on your skill a professional painter may be of assistance. A clear wood finish is easy on most doors.

Summary

While barn door hardware can be intimidating with a few simple measurements and careful installation anyone should be able to do it.

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