When the Wife’s Away, the Hulk Will Play

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door


Here’s the story of what happens when I go out of town for a few days, leaving Chris behind.  When having a spare weekend without the ole ball and chain, some husbands call up their friends for an epic guys’ night, some commandeer the TV for a 24/7 Sports Center marathon (sadly, I know that’s a thing as my brothers would watch the same episode of SC over and over again until they could parrot it back), and some may even decide to go on their own trip to hunt, camp, or some other bug-infested, manly activity that makes wives shudder at the thought.

So, what does my husband do?  Something a tad different.  He turns into the Extreme Home Hulk-Over… aka goes into full demo mode.

Yup, Chris went all super-Hulk on our laundry room.  And he felt the best way to warn me of his work was with the below text.  Husbands, listen up, here’s how not to break the news to your wife that you’ve gone rogue.


Yes, it appears that we were about to venture into phase 2 of the laundry room makeover (um, I didn’t quite realize we even needed a phase 2 but apparently I was wrong).  But let’s catch you up a little, shall we?  We revealed our dramatic laundry room makeover nearly a year ago (read more here).  Short version?

We went from this:

To this:

Ah, and of course my dirty little secret stash hidden behind the door.

The door always stayed open for two reasons- 1) to easily unload the dryer which was a front loader and 2) so Chloe, our cat, could easily access her litter box which was in the right-hand corner.  This drove Chris N-U-T-S- he wanted that door closed so it would help contain the machine noise and Chloe’s less-than-stellar smelling litter.  He even proposed we cut out a doggy door so we could close the door and Chloe could still get in.  Um, no, honey, we’re not installing an interior doggy door.  I’m pretty sure that would automatically lump us in with the crazies on Animal Hoarders (no lie, I recently saw an episode that had a doggy door installed between each room of the house so the cats didn’t have to be inconvenienced by walking out of one room, down the hall, into another room… who does that?!).

So the door stayed as-is until… (fast forward to me being out of town) Chris installed our new washer/dryer set and discovered that the new dryer stuck out further and was impossible to access with the door open.

As I’m enjoying my trip and the free limo involved, my phone is being bombarded with DIY SOS’es.  Husbands, daily lesson #2 for you: seriously, don’t mess with your wife’s free limo time.


I’ll give you one guess on if you think he left it alone until I got back…

Well, here’s the first thing I saw leaning against the back of our house upon my return.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

And this site greeted me in the house.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Sayanora door, it’s been nice knowin’ ya.

Because I know my husband and pretty much knew I’d be coming back to a doorless laundry room, I started digging into a potential solution.  No way was I going to leave the space open.  As cute as our teal cabinets are, I wanted to be able to close off this space.  Chris suggested a bifold door but I’m not the biggest fan of bifolds and I knew it would still drive Chris crazy because I’d still never close it due to Chloe.

And then a genius idea struck.  Finally, a way to put all those barn door inspirations I pinned on Pinterest to good use!  This would be the perfect space for a barn door!  It would slide across a track on the exterior so I could leave it open a crack for Chloe to get in and it would be a huge statement piece for that hallway.

Source: The Accent Piece

Source: Design Dump

Ah, such beauty.  We had a plan and were off!

And then I discovered how much barn doors were aaand Chris hit the brakes on the project.  He wasn’t too keen on dropping $500-700 on an old busted up door that he claimed anyone could just build.  “But it’s so full of character!” I argued.  That didn’t get me too far.  It was time to switch tactics.

“Well, hon, if anyone could just build it, why don’t you?”  Bingo.  But I wanted a barn door as genuine as possible (even if it wasn’t originally intended for a barn) and that meant genuine barn wood.  If you haven’t priced out barn wood lately, let me catch you up on how expensive it’s become.  Expensive as in $8.  Don’t make the mistake I did- assuming it was $8 a board.  I grabbed a few and started to check out at our local architectural salvage shop, only to discover that they were $8 per LINEAR FOOT, not per board.  Womp womp.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

We did find an awesome deal on reclaimed cedar planks, however (seen on the far left of the above picture).  Meh, close enough… especially considering it was only $1/foot (which ended up being $8/board).  Not too bad considering they sell new for $15 per board at home improvement stores.

And now for Chris to work his magic and convince me that building a barn door really wasn’t all that tough.  We’ll see, Hulk, we’ll see.


If you read this blog regularly, you know my feelings toward doors: they make me angry. And you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Sometimes I want to study quantum physics just so I can try to invent a way to eliminate the need for them entirely.

Now, by far the stupidest door in our house was our laundry room door. It was a 30″ door in a 10 sq. ft. room. For the conversion-impaired, that means that the space required for the door to swing open was 25% of the room. 25%! What idiot drew up those plans and thought, “yeah that’s an acceptable thing”? Now I understand that the doorway has to be a particular width in order to be able to fit the laundry machines in, but it’s clearly not a room where a hinged door is a sensible solution.

For a while we were somewhat content to just leave the door open, but our machines operated somewhere just shy of permanent hearing loss noise levels and the cat’s “business” can often be detected three counties away. It wasn’t until my parents gave us their old machines (thanks, Mom and Dad!) that a solution was actually required- the new machines’ plumbing cause them to stick out much further into the room, and since they’re both front-loaders you couldn’t even get them open. So now we had yet another problem with this door, and this time a solution really couldn’t wait but since the decision-maker was out of town, I had no choice but to rip it off the hinges.

Fast forward a few days and we stood in front of the doorway, pondering our newfound dilemma. The more I thought about it, the more I realized just how many sensible options the builder had: a pocket door, bifold doors, double doors, etc. But, of course, they went with the option that minimized usable space in the room. And to make matters worse, every reasonable alternative I could think of would require major “modifications” to the wall, and frankly I’d rather have no door than to have to replace a wall.

And then it hit me: a barn door. Julie has been droning on for a few years about how she “dreams of having a barn door someday,” so getting her on board was a cinch. At the time I didn’t know much about barn doors but I had seen a few pictures and they looked simple enough, plus I know that in the old days a farmer would have probably built his own barn and wouldn’t waste much time on perfecting a door, so it couldn’t possibly be that complicated.

And it’s really not.

For the most part, a barn door is just a bunch of square cuts nailed together in specific dimensions. Julie picked out some antique siding that I planned on using as the “background” of the door, but after seeing the prices they wanted for actual antique barn lumber (something like $8 per linear ft…. yeah, right), I convinced Julie I had a much better solution: cedar.

I guess it’s intended for pergolas and fences, but these 2x6x8 boards were the perfect fit for our project, having just the right level of “rawness” to pull off the look we were going for, but were still quality cuts that were easy to work with. And for $8/ea they seemed like a steal:

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

The only problem with these is that they can vary pretty wildly in color, and we needed three pieces that not only matched each other, but also matched the antique siding we bought. So I crawled around the lumber section showing Julie board after board trying to find a winner. The kid working there kept asking if we needed help, but frankly I think we’re beyond help with these things.

Approximately one eternity later, we had all the pieces we needed for the project. I cut two of the 2×6 cedar pieces to the overall height of the door, which for this application was 7′ (we had fairly thick trim that we wanted to cover). For the cross pieces, I just cut three pieces of uniform length. I was building a door that was 30″ wide, so the cross pieces were 30″ – 2x the 2×6 width (remember, 6″ is the width of a 2×6 BEFORE it’s milled, so it’s usually closer to 5.5″). Obviously two of the cross pieces went at the top and the bottom, but there was a bit of a debate as to where the middle piece would it go: the geometric middle, or the height at which the handle would go, which was bascially 1/3 the total height of the door. Well, we ultimately agreed that an asymmetrical look was what we really wanted, so the middle piece went at 1/3 the overall height of the door.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

To put everything together, I used two types of brackets, 90* on the backside and straight brackets on the top and bottom:

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Why the 90* brackets, you ask? Well, I didn’t want any pieces to sag over time; using a 90* bracket ensures that the downward forces are applied at an angle rather than straight down, reducing the risk of any separation at the seams. The straight brackets at the top and bottom were for added rigidity, especially when moving the door around during construction.

Next, I had to put the siding together across the back of the door to created the “background” for the barn look. The only difficult part of this was that I was actually assembling it atop a pair of sawhorses and everything was technically upside down. I glued everything down with wood glue (which was probably overkill) and then finished it off with my trim nailer:

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

So now I had a pretty basic door. The wood was rough so we sanded it down to avoid splinters:

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Unfortunately, I wasn’t done quite yet. Julie also wanted a diagonal piece, so I used a cedar 2×3 and traced out the angles across the door sections:

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

So, put it all together and what do you get? A barn door! That isn’t from a barn…

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Here’s a breakdown of all the pieces that went into it.


Supply and Cut List:

  • Two 2×6 cedar boards – cut to 7′ long for the sides. Purchased two at $9.97 each.
  • Three 2×6 cedar boards – cut to 19″ long for the top, bottom, and middle. Purchased one board to cut three pieces from at $9.97 each.
  • Two 2×3 cedar boards – used for the crossbeams. Purchased one piece  to cut two pieces from at $3.97 each.
  • Four old cedar siding planks – cut to 7′ long to make up the base of the door. Purchased four planks at $1/linear foot or $8 each.
  • Four right angle brackets – to hold the side boards to the top and bottom boards.
  • Two T-brackets – for center board.
  • Four straight brackets – two for the top board and two for the bottom.
  • Wood glue – already had on-hand.
  • Nails – already had on-hand.
  • Handle. $3.28.

Cost Breakdown:

  • Wood: $65
  • Brackets: $5
  • Handle: $3
  • Total: Just under $75

Click here to watch the sparks fly as I twist raw steel into some sweet custom barn door hardware!


And here’s where we tell you how the door debate is now over.  Right?  Not quite.

Here’s the door when Julie passes through.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

And here’s the door when Chris passes by.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

It gets quite the workout.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Good thing it looks just as good closed as it does open.

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

And here’s a reminder of where we started.  Pretty amazing how one door can transform a space so dramatically, huh?

DO or DIY | How to Build a Barn Door

Stay tuned for the breakdown of the door hardware and track build!



Filed under Laundry Room

35 responses to “When the Wife’s Away, the Hulk Will Play

  1. The barn door looks great! Very funny post!

  2. Su

    You two are always so funny… AND talented! Love the barn door! We have an old real barn door that my hubby picked up one day a few years ago. Just cuz he liked it — thought it was cool! LOL I like them too, but there is absolutely NO PLACE to put it in our standard ranch-style house. So I think I have him talked into installing it on his shed this summer because the doors on it now are getting pretty bad. And it will “look cool”! LOL Oh, and by-the-way, believe it or not, we have an indoor doggy-door! We keep the litterbox in the basement and I HATED having to have the basement door open all the time so Jack could go down and do his business. AND, looking down into an unfinished basement when one walks into the house is NOT the decor I want people to see. SO, I installed a doggydoor! But I took off the “door” flap part and made a little curtain for it to cover-up the hole!

    • DO or DIY

      I could get on board with the doggy-door being on a basement door since that’s such a separate part of the house that people normally keep closed off anyways- that actually makes sense, great solution! It seemed silly to me to have it on a laundry room door that’s in a pretty central area of our house but that’s probably me just being super stubborn. 🙂 Love your solution for the barn door. You sound like me- once you get an idea in your head, you’ll find a way to make it work!!


  3. Nell

    Good Day Julie and Chris – I happened upon your blog and I simply love it! We have been married for 30 years – we’ve been together for 35 since H.S. and I am so glad to see that there are other couples who are DIYing together, we are in the final realms of redoing a cute, quirky bungalow we recently purchased our 3rd home since we’ve been together – and we’re still together – but alas my husband swears this is the last one – the final frontier. You and your projects are inspiring keep up the great work!

    • DO or DIY

      Good luck on the final venture! It’s comforting to know that there’s a survival rate for DIY’ing together that can extend into the 30-some year range. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!


  4. Donna

    i came across your blog somewhere on pinterest as you do when you are meant to be doing the housework ,and while i was ‘ok husbands do crazy diy things’, but what had me saying ‘no way’ out loud about your beautiful laundry was the print in the middle. now tell me did ‘mr hulk’ do that or was that you later because that just took hubby diy to a whole new level. it looks fabulous by the way.

  5. Lori Lee Rivero

    Can you post pics of what it looks like from inside the laundry room?

  6. Amanda H.

    Where did you get the hardware to hang your door? Everything I have looked at is super expensive!

  7. Kassandra

    I’d like to know where the hardware came from as well?

    • DO or DIY

      Good news! We’re working on a hardware tutorial to post soon. We made it ourselves for much less than retail price!

      • Cat

        Awesome ! My husband can do fabricating and he is a master woodworker. So he can make this for me as soon as I can get it on “his” priority list. 🛠

  8. Pingback: Let Us Show You the Door (Hardware) | DO or DIY

  9. Pingback: Reclaimed Wood Barn Door

  10. Pingback: Exciting News! | DO or DIY

  11. Michele

    What Hardware did you use to hang it? We have been working on a plan for this, but the only aesthetically pleasing mounting hardware we have found has been $200-300. Yours looks really nice! I didn’t see that specifically listed on the cost. Can you advise?

  12. What about the track that it rolls on?where did you get that and how much please?

  13. sarah

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I made some wicked doors and thank you for showing me the way. Didn’t know I had it in me. I smile every time I see the doors 🙂

  14. Julianna Pelley

    I am going to get started on one right away. So beautiful, thank you so much!

  15. Bev

    Do you remember the stain you used?

  16. Mel Wozniak

    I was wondering what the back of your door looked like? I love the way the front of yours looks.

  17. Breezy

    Looks great. Can you tell me how you converted the door casing from the white casing to the wood casing?

    • DO or DIY

      We removed the white casing completely from the door frame and cut raw wood to replace it with. We sanded and stained the wood to match the door so it looked seamless.

      – Julie

  18. Deanna

    What stain and/or sealer did you use? Trying to recreate your color!

  19. Brooke

    My husband and I are making this door over this long holiday weekend and I have purchased everything. I’ve reviewed the plans, but I’m wondering how you attached the middle piece of wood the the frame of the door (it’s the piece that is a 1/3 of the way down? Is it also with the flat 90 degree brackets like the top and the bottom? No other nails or anything (with the exception of the straight brackets)?

    Thank you for sharing!! We’re making the hardware too!

  20. cherry foster

    where did you get the rails and hardware ??


    Thanks for the great tutorials. I found an open auction on Ebay for barn door hardware so entered a bid of $11.00 — lo and behold, I won the auction for a 6′ foot stainless steel brand spankin’ new barn door hardware — shipping was $49.99. I bought the hardware which is beautiful. I like your design for the barn door. One question — did you leave the silver brackets on the back of the door?

  22. Andrew Scott

    Your bracing is wrong! It should point up to the closing stile to carry the weight of the unsupported edge; the other edge beig supported by the hinges. And whilst this is a sliding door, convention states that the bracing points up to the leading edge!

  23. Gene Neill

    It sure would have been nice to see what the door looked like from a straight-on, across-the-room view, as well as what the back side of the door looked like. This door might or might not be suitable for viewing from the back side; there’s no way to tell. Also, it appears that the diagonal braces are different lengths, which would put them at different angles. This would be highly undesirable, if true … but again, there is no way to tell.

  24. Pingback: 15 Best Money-Saving DIY Decor Projects

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