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How to Measure for a Barn Door the Right Way

While not the most inexpensive undertaking possible among popular DIY home projects, installing a sliding barn door is something that has become quite fashionable over the years. This is particularly true for those who love that rustic look and feel for their home. However, there is a fair amount of planning and consideration that goes into such a project.

Beyond understanding how to hang barn doors in your home, it is essential to ensure that the appearance of the door will match your house aesthetically, to choose its placement wisely (barn doors are not well suited for bathrooms because of the gap between the wall and the door) and that there is indeed enough room to hang the door.

Moreover, when picking out a barn door, it is essential that you ensure that the door you purchase is the right size for the width of the door opening. There is not one standard size for doors so you will need to take this into consideration as well.

All of this means that knowing how to measure for a barn door is critical for achieving the look and feel that you desire.

That said, today we will explore how to measure for a barn door the right way, thereby ensuring that you get the job done correctly.

Buy Stylish Sliding Barn Door Hardware to Complete Your Project

How to Measure for a Barn Door and Track

There are a variety of steps involved in measuring for a barn door, none of which are too complicated. Therefore, with a bit of patience, you can get this done in no time by following these steps:

How to Measure for a Barn Door and Track

Determine Barn Door Opening Measurements

The style of barn door that you select will be determined by your preferences. But it is important to consider the barn door in relation to the opening measurements when making your selection.

The barn door’s width should be approximately two to three inches wider than the door opening. The door should also be about one inch higher than the door opening. However, you can have the barn door overlap more in each direction, if you so desire. This truly comes down to personal preference, with the aforementioned overlap dimensions being the minimum that are necessary.

Additionally, while sliding barn doors aren’t usually all that advisable for bathrooms, if this is where you are placing it, you will want some additional overlap (above the minimum) to help cover peripheral gaps and prevent noise leakage.

Subtract the Trim

Firstly, when installing a sliding barn door, you can either remove the door trim for a more minimalist look or leave it intact. This section and the one that follows will deal with measuring for both styles.

Now, determine the width of the door’s opening from the inside of the door jamb to the inside edge of the other. For those who are unfamiliar with the anatomy of a door, door jambs are simply the individual parts that make up the door frame. So, in other words, you will simply procure the opening measurements from inside the door’s frame. Repeat this step to find the height as well. However, make sure you leave a margin between the bottom of the door and floor or the door will not slide smoothly.

Now, simply add in the amount of overlap you desire for the barn door and you have the dimensions needed for the barn door panel.

Adding the Trim

If your door trim will be removed, you will simply follow the same steps as above, but instead of measuring from the inside edge to the inside edge, you will need to measure to the outside of the trim in both directions, as well as going from top to bottom.

Then, you will once again add in the desired amount of privacy overlap.

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Factor in Door Hardware

Of course, you will need to pick up sliding barn door hardware for this job, which means that you will need to factor it into your measurements as well.

When considering your hardware, bear in mind that the railing system must double the width of the door frame (potentially longer for odd-shaped doors). If not, the door will not slide open completely.

For example, if your doorway is 35 inches, your railing will need to be at least 70 inches long. That said, it is probably best to go with a 72-inch railing system, just to be safe.

Find Your Clearance

Finally, procure the measurement from the top of the door frame (or jamb) to the ceiling. This is a critical measurement as some folks will be limited in how they go about things if their home has low ceilings. Therefore, knowing the clearance measurement will help you to pick out a railing system that will work well with your home.

Additionally, it is wise to also measure the distance between the studs on the wall where the door will be hung. The reason is that some companies will pre-drill the railing system to the stud measurements to help make the project a bit easier.

That’s all there is to measuring for a sliding barn door. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t still questions to be answered.

Here are some of the most common questions that folks have relating to how to measure for a barn door.

How to Measure for a Barn Door FAQ

When tackling a project like hanging a barn door, it is quite common for DIYers to have questions and concerns.

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and common concerns surrounding this kind of project.

How Much Bigger Does the Barn Door Need to Be Than the Opening

How Much Bigger Does the Barn Door Need to Be Than the Opening?

This was touched upon earlier, but is a topic worthy of further discussion.

Given that barn doors are sold in a multitude of different dimensions, there is no one perfect answer to this question. That said, the general rule of thumb is that you will want at least one inch of overlap on either side of the opening.

Therefore, if your opening is 35 inches, you will want a barn door that is at least 37 inches wide. This kind of measurement is ideal for spaces that don’t require privacy, such as pantries or living spaces.

However, as mentioned earlier, if you wish to install a sliding barn door in an entryway for a bathroom, you will want to increase the amount of overlap. For this kind of room, you will want to up the overlap to two to three inches on each side. This will allow less light and sound to make its way out of the bathroom and increase privacy.

Also, be aware that the one inch or more rule is also applicable to the door’s height. Therefore, you will want to measure from the top edge of the door jamb to the floor and then add in another inch (or more). Just be sure to factor this in when installing the track so that the door slides smoothly and does not scrape against the floor.

For a standard track, it is necessary to leave at least six inches above the door’s opening. That said, there are a variety of low-clearance options available that only demand four inches above the frame. Alternatively, if you wish to avoid the issue altogether, there are also ceiling mount sliding barn door tracks. This option also enables homeowners to potentially purchase larger-than-normal sliding panels for a more dramatic impact.

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How Thick and Wide Is the Track?

When it comes to purchasing a track for your sliding barn door – to ensure that it opens completely and clears the doorway – it is important to procure a track that is at least double the doorway’s width. Additionally, if you wish for the barn door to be capable of sliding in both directions, then you will want to triple the doorway’s width. Similarly, if you want to install bi-parting sliding barn doors, then it will be necessary that the track be double the width of both the doors that will be hung.

As far as the thickness of the track is concerned, this will vary depending on the thickness of the barn door selected. The typical thickness of an interior door is 1⅜ inches, while standard barn door hardware is usually 1¾ inches.

However, if you have opted to purchase a thicker-than-average door, have trim or have a baseboard that impedes or otherwise interferes with the sliding of your door, then you will want to purchase some spacers as well.

A spacer increases the amount of space that exists between the track and the wall to accommodate some of the aforementioned situations. Therefore, it is important to determine if you will need these for your door to function properly before beginning your install project.

Learn How to Install Sliding Barn Doors Properly and Professionally

Is It Possible to Hang a Barn Door Without a Header?

While it is possible to hang a barn door without a support header, it is certainly not advisable unless you plan to build the support into the wall itself. The fact is that headers are critical for sliding barn doors as the doors can be heavy and headers help to distribute the pull of the door’s weight across various beams in the wall.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to install a support header for your door as well.

To do this, you will need to use a stud finder to locate your beams and install a header that is at least the same length as the track. When installing the support header, it is wise to pre-drill holes in both the header and the wall so that you can line things up easily and without any mistakes.

However, if you do still make an error with the pre-drilled hole’s location, this can easily be covered up with wood filler or spackle.

How Far Will a Barn Door Stick Out from the Wall

How Far Will a Barn Door Stick Out from the Wall?

If you are able to use a standard track system and do not require any spacers, then the barn door will stick out approximately 1¾ inches. That said, if your project does require the implementation of spacers to allow the door to glide smoothly, then the door is going to stick out about 3¾ inches to help accommodate for the trim, baseboard or door thickness.

Once you establish how much space there will be between your door and wall, then you can explore the option of installing a floor guide and various locking mechanisms for your door’s type, size and style.

How to Measure for a Barn Door: Wrapping Up

While learning how to measure for a barn door isn’t incredibly difficult, there are some elements that can be a bit tricky based on your project’s idiosyncrasies. However, with a little bit of time and patience, you can get the exact measurements you need to determine your ideal barn door and hardware requirements.

Simply follow the steps listed above and you are sure to procure the information needed to install a beautiful, rustic sliding barn door in your home.

However, if you still have questions about which barn door size or sliding barn door hardware is right for you, give Van Dyke’s customer service line a call at 1-800-237-8833 and we will be happy to assist.

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