The Sliding Barn Door Guide: Everything you need to know about the hottest design trend

Our past blog posts have covered various topics from team member features, house tours, thoughts on conservation, and even how to builds, but we’ve never wrote a blog highlighting one of the products we offer.  It is no secret that sliding doors and barn style doors have quickly grown in popularity and are making a stunning impact in residential and commercial applications.  This Sliding Barn Door Guide hopes to answer your questions and fill you in on everything you need to know about the popular design trend while providing examples and inspiration. 

SHOP GRAIN DESIGNS BARN DOORS

I’ll highlight various topics about sliding doors based on questions we’re commonly asked such as; where sliding doors are commonly installed, door styles we offer, and things to consider when planning for a sliding door in your home or office.

What are the benefits of sliding barn doors?

  • Sliding doors save space by eliminating the room needed for door swings
  • They create a focal point and can make a statement for a home or office.
  • Unique doors looks great when they’re not in use, so they can be left open and not be in the way
  • They provide a contrast of materials and create interest for a commonly boring and forgotten element of the home
  • The greatest benefit is that a sliding door is so much more than just a door.  It is functional art!

How do I know which sliding door application will work best for my space?

There are three common applications; single, bi-parting, and bypass doors.  The most common sliding door application is a single door that slides either left or right.  This works great for smaller or standard openings assuming you have enough room for the door to slide in one direction.  This is also a great option for much larger openings assuming you have a wall large enough to accommodate the open door.

Another option is bi-parting doors.  This option is most common for larger openings or applications where you don’t have enough room for a single door to slide.  This is the case in the photos below where the opening is centered and the doors open in opposite directions so that they can be ‘stored’ on either side of the opening.

The final option is bypass doors.  This application is great for areas where barn doors are desired but there isn’t adequate room on either side of the opening for the door to slide.  In this application, the doors overlap and slide over one another so that half of the opening is accessible at any time.  This is a more complicated and expensive solution, but is often times the only possibility if a pair of doors are necessary or strongly desired.

What are the most common rooms or areas for a sliding door?

Although, we’ve installed sliding doors in many different residential and commercial applications, here are some of the most popular areas/rooms:

  • Formal Dining/Entry (Shown below with Split X)
  • Hall Closet
  • Laundry Room (Shown below with Single Z)
  • Theatre Room
  • Master Closet
  • Kitchen/Pantry (Shown below with Split X and built in Chalkboard)
  • Master Bathroom
  • Offices
  • Commercial and Business Applications – Sliding doors have also been very popular in area business for use in offices, exam rooms, break rooms, conference rooms, and even to make a statement in the reception area.


What are the most popular door styles?

The most popular style we produce is the Double Z, which is one of the traditional barn door styles seen on agricultural buildings. We have a selection of the most common door styles we offer however, you’re not limited to the styles we’ve done in the past.

As you’ll see in many of the example photos, many of the doors we have created compliment the weathered, rustic wood character aesthetic that has become very popular.  However, we’ve also built more modern or contemporary doors which is accomplished using vertical or horizontally aligned boards.  Corrugated metal can also be incorporated for more industrial looking applications.

Other considerations for your door may be to add more functional elements.  We’ve built custom doors to include mirrors, windows, chalk boards, or even slat style privacy doors that covered patio door yet still let light in; the options area really endless.  We’re happy to explore new concepts, designs, and styles.  The door illustrated below was installed in a master suite.  While the front appears to be a normal sliding barn door, when closed, the back functions as a full mirror to be used in the master closet/bath.

What do I need to plan for when considering a sliding door in my home?

  • Adequate support – We always recommend a header and blocking is installed for new construction applications as well as renovations.  (Example photo below) If this is not possible, the rail system MUST be fastened into studs for adequate support, so you’ll want a track that is not pre-drilled so that you can locate the studs and drill out the rail as necessary.
  • Exterior Header – In the event you don’t have adequate blocking, an exterior header may also be used.  We recommend this if a header/blocking isn’t already in place.  The exterior header is fastened to the studs using long screws which then acts as a support system for the mounting of the rail.  This option also adds some visual interest above the door and the header can be finished to match the door.  The custom door shown below illustrates an application with an exterior header that matches the door.

  • Open Area for Sliding – Sliding doors are great because they save space in a room by eliminating the need for a door swing.  However, the door also needs a place to slide when it is not closed.  The example below shows a pair of bi-parting doors that replace the problematic folding closet doors for a more elegant and functional solution.

Unique Applications:

Some of the more unique applications are using sliding doors on furniture, or as a focal point in the room.  A couple of the photos below show doors being incorporated in furniture designs while the bottom two photos showcase doors that so that are designed to be the focal point of a room.

How do I measure for my barn door?

This is a loaded question and varies based on a few factors.  Do you have a door casing? Do you want the casing hidden or partially exposed when the door is closed?  How much room to do have for the door to slide?  Is there a header or casing above the door that needs to be cleared to mount the rail?

We have written a dedicated blog post outlining how to measure for a sliding door here.

  • We’re happy to help answer these questions with you and make sure we’re on the same page.  However there are a few general rules we most commonly use.
  • Since the door sits off the wall in order to slide, it must be wider that the opening to fully hide the opening.  We recommend 1-1/2″ to 2″ of overhang on each side.  30″ opening –> 34″ wide door.
  • The height is a bit trickier based on the casing and header.  For a  sheet rocked opening we recommend the door height be 1/2″ larger than the opening.  Once hung, the door will be another 1/2″ off the floor for a total coverage above the door of 1″.  The center of the rail will mount ~2″ above the door (3″ above the opening) which will be close to the center of 2×8 blocking.
  • If you have casing and the rail will be mounted above the casing so the door height should be (the opening + the casing + .5″).  Now the center of the rail will be ~2″  above the casing.
  • Once you’ve established your desired size.  Double check to make sure you still have enough space for the full door to slide out of the way.
  • In some applications, a standard door/rail application won’t work because there is a lack of support above the opening.  This is the case in the photo below. We’ll explore custom solutions based on your application and help make your sliding door challenges a reality.

How do I order a door for my home or business?

  • The first step is to use the photos and measuring tips outlined in this post to get started, feel free to visit our portfolio of sliding doors for more inspiration.
  • Next, visit our online store and shop our most popular barn door styles complete with sliding barn door hardware! We offer made to order – complete sliding barn door kits!
  • If you don’t see your exact style or sliding door application in our online store, jump over to our custom orders page and tell us about your project.  The most important details to include will be opening dimensions, which door application you have in mind, and a photo or two of the space.  Our custom orders page has a place to attach your photos.  Once we have the details we’ll circle back with an email and pricing!  This is the most efficient way to get in contact to ensure we have all your project details in one place.
  • We can coordinate the project electronically if you’d like but in most cases this we’ll follow-up to set up a meeting at our Fargo showroom or schedule a Facetime or Zoom design call.  We’ll take this time to review hardware options, door styles, finishes, and establish a timeline to make your project a reality.
  • Once the details are finalized we’ll handle the dirty work and then circle back when your door is ready.  We also offer installation in the Fargo, ND area as well as freight shipping.

*Photo credit to J. Alan Paul for Design and Living People’s Choice Awards