Doors. We need doors everywhere! The barn is no exception. We need stable doors, gates, entrance doors, whatever you want to call them. There are many styles of doors you can make. You can be as elaborate and detailed as you like or you can do it quick and easy. The main things to remember is it has to be light enough to hang, built to avoid warping, and strong enough to withstand wind and abuse from people and animals. This can seem daunting to some, but I am going to show you how to build a simple, yet beautiful, barn/stable door.
My door-building has improved over the years. Between kids breaking doors, animals testing them and showing me weaknesses, and weather breaking them down, I feel like a pro at building them. Our new barn needed doors to the pasture, and so I got the chance to apply what I have learned to make a gate/door that was both attractive and strong. I needed the doors to be solid so as to keep out winter weather, but I also needed to be able to allow air-flow when needed. Because of this I decided to go with the split barn door. I have only done the bottom halves at this point because I don’t need the upper portion right now, but I will do the same thing to build them, they will just be smaller than the bottom section.
For each door you will need;
- 1 sheet of plywood barn siding
- 6 – 8′ long 1×4’s
- wood glue (I like Liquid Nails)
- paintable caulk
- 1-inch wood screws or drywall screws
- 2 strong hinges per section
- latches of choice
- primer and paint and painting equipment
- drill, square, pencil, tape measure, etc.
First, measure your door opening. Your door will be 1/2 inch smaller than this opening. The gate/door should not be over 4-foot wide, so if you have a larger opening you will need to make two doors or a sliding door system. For my doors, the opening was 4-foot wide, and I cut the door 1/2-inch smaller. Since I was only making 2 bottom half doors I cut the siding sheet in half for about a 4-foot tall door.
Now, measure the length and width or your door and cut 4 sections of 1×4 to match each edge. Measure each side edge-to-edge as you will be cutting corners at an angle. Take a square (a triangle measuring tool that will give you a right-angle) and mark and cut a 90-degree angle on each end of your 1×4’s. Each end of each board should have the angles going in toward each other, like on a picture frame. Check the fit on your door panel and make any adjustments needed.
Next you need the center board. It will be the brace that will keep your door from warping, and it runs at a diagonal from one corner to the other. Each end will get 2 cuts to fit into the corners. To get the measurement, take measurements from one inside corner to the opposite inside corner. Cut the 1×4 to this size. Now mark the center of each end, it will be 1 3/4-inches. From this point, use your square to mark the corner angles at 90-degrees (like half of a square) and cut them off. This will give the end of your board a “point” to fit into the groove.
Dry-fit your center brace in your frame. If everything looks good, mark the backs of your edges and then take them off and prime and paint all the pieces. It is much easier to do this step now and will give you a cleaner paint job, especially if you want the door body and frame different colors. After the paint drys, re-position your frame pieces and check for square (if you measure from one corner to the opposite and then do the same on the other corners the two measurements will be the same if the door is square). If everything looks good then get the glue ready. Glue each board, one at a time, to your door panel and clamp down. Screw the two together from the back side. The glue will be much stronger than the screws, so this is a very important step! Do each board on the outside edges, then do the center brace last. There will be one edge that has a groove if your door is the full size of the panel. Fill this groove with caulk. Allow the glue and caulk to dry.
Next you need to attach hinges. I wanted my door to swing into the barn so it would always be out of the weather, so I attached my hinges to the back side of the door. The other half of the hinge will attach to the inside or outside of your door frame depending on the style you have. For me, I had to attach the hinges to a metal-frame structure, so I drilled holes through the frame and put my hinges inside the door frame and bolted them in place. Your latches should be installed according to instructions. If doing a second door above you will want to be able to latch both halves together.
Now you have a lovely barn door! You can use this same principle to do about any outer door or gate, just remember you need to paint and seal all edges and sides if the door will be out in the weather.