Barn Doors - Fad or Fabulous?

Perhaps you’ve noticed more than a few builders and designers incorporating barn style doors into their homes and models. Buyers seem to love them and are often willing to pay a premium for them. But what makes it a “barn door” is the hardware. Barn doors operate much like a pocket door – without the pocket. Buyers love the convenience of a pocket door. Meanwhile, builders hate pocket doors because they are a warranty nightmare – so the barn door effectively presents a “have your cake and eat it” scenario for builders and buyers alike! 

Variety of Styles
To me, the greatest aspect of barn doors is the variety of styles and sizes - in both singles and doubles. Single doors are typically around 5’ to 6’ wide and often styled to look their name sake – a barn door – rustic and stained, like the one pictured here in Sabal Home’s Firethorn model. 

But they can also be sleek and modern like the double doors used in Taylor Morrison’s NEXTadventure show house. My personal home features double Craftsman doors in two different sizes – 2’ and 3’. This drives my symmetry-loving friends crazy, but I have always been a fan of asymmetry!

Where They Work
Barn doors are great for visual privacy or closing off messes. Using them at the hallway entrance to the guest room and hall bath adds privacy for when the guest room is in use – or closes off the view of the bathroom from the foyer. 

They are also great for closing off a pocket office when it’s not so tidy – like in Master Craft Builder Group’s Shearwater model. I love the cleverness of the pet pocket door Sabal Homes built to capture the space under the stairs and appeal to pet lovers. In this case, no other door would work. 

Where They Don't Work
Before you start putting barn doors everywhere, there are places where they are not appropriate. Keep in mind, barn doors offer little acoustic separation. Therefore, they are not good for bedrooms – where the occupants need quiet to sleep – or laundry rooms where the appliances can be noisy. They also are difficult to lock which may compromise privacy. 

Tips & Tricks
To create overlap when the doors are closed, you will need to make the opening 1” smaller on either side and 1” down on top. So, a pair of 2’-6” x 6’-8” doors would need a 4’ 10” by 6’-7” opening. If you case the opening, use a flat stock around the door. Don’t forget the U-shaped channel in the floor to keep the doors from swinging away from the wall.  The hardware can also be expensive. Andy Chambers of MasterCraft Builder Group rather brilliantly gets his hardware from Tractor Supply and paints it black. I find it perfectly acceptable to differentiate barn door hardware – including track and handles – from the rest of the door hardware in the home. After all, the doors are very different and a statement. 

Naturally, we are eager to explore new looks and locations. But because the doors and the hardware can be expensive, we need to be thoughtful about their use and location. I believe when used in the right application, barn doors are a fabulous solution that is here to stay.