How to Hang Barn Doors

Hanging a door takes a bit of finesse but it's a rewarding task when completed satisfactorily.

Barn doors, as in this case, often feature a set of two swinging doors that meet in the middle. The two opposing doors are essentially a mirror image of each other and the hanging procedure is the same for each. Try to plan the work so you can take your time and not be distracted or interrupted. And keep in mind that there are always ways to make corrections along the way. Be creative.

Place wood shims/shingles on the floor or ground surface underneath where one of the two doors will hang when in the closed position. Position the proper door in this half of the opening, resting it on the shims.

Reposition the shims, as needed, sliding them in or out to an increased or decreased thickness to elevate or lower the door. Continue this until the door fits into the opening with a uniform spacing, ideally about 1/8-inch to 3/16-inch, around the bottom, side and top.

Have a helper hold the door in place or screw a piece of scrap wood temporarily to the exterior above, extending it down over the top of the door to hold the door from falling outward. There should be a permanent door stop around the inside that holds the door flush with the exterior, preventing it from falling to the inside when closed.

You're now ready to attach the hinges but if strap hinges are simply attached and the shims removed, the weight of the door can make it slump lower than the desired position. To compensate for this, run mason's twine through the outermost screw or bold hole in the strap, doubling, tripling or quadrupling the twine to achieve the necessary strength. With the hinge as close to flat against the door as possible, pull downward on the hinge with the twine, simulating some of the door's weight.

While maintaining tension on the twine, drive the screws or lags into all but the outermost hole where the twine is, then relax and remove the twine. Now install the final screw or lag bolt for that hinge.

Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the remaining hinge or hinges on this door.

Repeat steps 1 through 6 for the other door.

Things You Will Need

  • Helper if the doors are large and heavy • Wood shims/shingles • Two barn doors made to fit in the door opening so that they swing opposite ways and meet in the middle when closed. • Measuring tape • Scrap wood and screws • Mason's twine • Work gloves • Screws or lag bolts for hinge attachment • Suitable driver (manual of motorized) for the screws or lag bolts • Screw- or lag bolt-mounted strap hinges (two or three for each door, depending on the door's size and weight) already attached to the doorway and ready to receive the barn doors

Tip

  • • A helper is almost essential for large doors. • The reason for mason's twine is that it is thin but strong and will allow the hinge to be nearly flush with the door face. • You may want to wear work gloves when pulling the twine to keep it from cutting into your hand. • The term "door stop," in this case, has a different meaning from that of the small wedge placed under a door to hold it open. The door stop can be a simple, continuous strip of wood like a furring strip, as long as it holds the door flush to the exterior and prevents the door from swinging from the closed position into the inside of the building and wrenching the hinges. • Sometimes a door will require a little more trimming and tweaking after it has been hanging and settling for a while. Many hinges have removable pins so you can shim underneath and remove the door to work on it, then replace it without unscrewing or unbolting the hinges.

Warning

  • Handling big, heavy doors calls for some precautions. Even with a helper, be sure to get a good sense of the physical demands of the task before you begin. Children and pets should not be nearby in case the door should fall.

About the Author

Donald Miller has a background in natural history, environmental work and conservation. His writing credits include feature articles in major national print magazines and newspapers, including "American Forests" and a nature column for "Boys' Life Magazine." Miller holds a Bachelor of Science in natural resources conservation.