How to Build Barn Doors

Learn how to build doors for barns from wood using this simple technique. This works well with any sized door on old barns and new ones.


Use a minimum of 1 x 4 for the door frame. The lighter a door is, the easier it will be to build, maintain, and use. However, you don’t want it flimsy. so the bigger a door gets, the wider and thicker the styles and rails need to be.

The whole trick to this procedure is to simply to start with a self supporting frame that includes a rectangular perimeter and at least one diagonal. Unlike all other forms of door building, start with the rails. These are the two horizontal pieces. Cut them 1/2″ shorter than the rough opening.

Repeat this for the styles. They the vertical pieces. The difference here is they will also serve for the outside pieces of siding. So beware of spacing, width, and line-up issues based on the position of the existing siding.

Now its time for the braces (diagonals). Since the door must be square (perfect rectangle), it is essential to adjust the rough opening to make the door -1/2″ exactly.

Nail the styles to the rails using a simple lapped joint to get a four sided frame. Traditional style carpentry often uses 8d common nails driven from the outside and bent over on the backside. Screws are preferred by many professionals, but I recommend using whatever fasteners hold the siding on the rest of the barn.

There are many ways to approach this. My favorite is the the traditional method which incorporates the styles in as finished siding. The door is far lighter this way, but is also more prone to warping. Using a minimum of three hinges if you do it like that.


Strap hinges work well for most situations. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. The main thing with any hinge is to make sure it is adequate sized.

There is but one way to fasten a hinge to wood. Proper sized pilot holes must be drilled for the construction lag bolts that will secure the hinge to the post. Carriage bolts slightly longer than the thickness of the door must be used to fasten the hinge to the door. Of course, just about any kind of nuts and bolts will work here so long as they look good.

Any kind of rolling or track mounted hinges are a different matter altogether. These assemblies will usually be a complete kit and should be treated as to however the manufacturer wants.


Barn doors can bring out the best or worst in a carpenter. It all depends on how you approach it. You should be creative on one hand but on the other hand you will have to be resourceful as well.

For simple cases, use 3/4″ treated plywood and decorate it.