How to Build a Beautiful Exterior Barn Door

constructed exterior barn door DIY home improvement project

This blog post describes the process we used to build an exterior barn door for our dock closet; however, the same steps apply to building an interior barn door. The only difference is that we used treated wood and plywood. For an exterior barn door, you would need to use cabinet-grade or smooth plywood.

Before Installing the Barn Door

Here is our dock closet before building and installing our barn door. 

Neal purchased all of our supplies from Home Depot.

Materials for Building an Exterior Barn Door:

  • treated (if exterior) plywood the size of the door
  • 8 (may need more or less depending on the size of your door) 1×6 treated boards
  • Gorilla glue
  • Deckmate screws (the length depends on the combined thickness of your boards and plywood)
  • barn door hardware

Note: This material/tool list does not include the door trim.

Cutting the Plywood

We started by measuring this treated plywood and cutting it the size we needed. It will be the frame for the door. The height will be 84 inches and the width will be 42 inches.

We used our chalk reel to make the cut lines. You can see the chalk lines in this photo where we will cut. We used a circular saw but you can also use a table saw to cut the plywood.

Cutting the 1x6s for Building an Exterior Barn Door

Our next step was to cut each treated 1×6 board 84″ in length, which will be the height of the door (same as the height of the plywood). Neal cut all 7 boards using a Dewalt miter saw.

Neal used a square to make his mark before cutting each board to ensure a precise/straight cut. 

We used a table saw to cut the last board into two smaller strips to be installed in the center of the door. Neal set the table saw before we cut (rip) the eighth board into two 1 1/2″ boards (more on this later).

Let it rip!

Laying Out the 1x6s on the Plywood

The next step was to lay all the boards in place, including the two 1 1/2″ smaller boards that Neal just ripped. We used clamps to pull the boards together and double-checked to be sure the boards would fit on our plywood.

Attaching the 1x6s

Pictured below, Neal is gluing the first board. We clamped the first board in place to be sure it was flat on the plywood. Wood can sometimes be warped and clamping helps to straighten.

We also screwed the wood in place from the underside.

We used 1-1/4″ screws. You must be sure the screws are long enough to go through the plywood and the 1×6 treated wood, but not too long to go all the way through the treated wood. This would ruin the appearance of your barn door!

Here is board number two . . . 1.) glue . . .

2.) clamp in place.

3.) secure with screws.

We glued, clamped, and screwed the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh boards in place.

Below, Neal is pictured screwing on the plywood/underneath side.

We decided to put the smaller pieces in the middle with one 1×6 between them.

Each time, we used clamps to pull the boards tight.

As we progressed, we had to start using longer clamps because we had so many 1×6 boards across the plywood. Also, notice that we made sure the edge of the clamp was not resting on the plywood (i.e. the 1×6 was flat on the plywood). 

Board 6 (the second small board). Again, we glued, clamped, and screwed this board in place.

Neal had to measure the underside to be sure the screws were going into the actual board on top of the plywood. 

We installed boards 7, 8, and 9 the same way: glue, clamp, and screw.

All nine boards have been glued, clamped, and screwed in place!

Neal added more screws just to be sure all the 1×6 boards were secure.

Making the “Z” Piece as the last step in building an exterior barn door

We removed all the clamps and added the “Z” pieces. Next, we measured 12″ from the top and the bottom for the two horizontal pieces.

We clamped (not glued) the pieces in place.

We flipped the door over and made a chalk line on the underside so Neal would know where to put the screws. NOTE: The chalk line is one inch more narrow than the actual horizontal board; he will use this as his guide for the screws.

This time, we are using 2″ screws. We are using longer screws because they will go through the plywood, the 1×6 wood, and then attach the 1×6 horizontal pieces. However, we made sure they were not long enough to go all the way through the top board.

Neal installed screws on his chalk line from the underside.

We flipped the board over to secure the second horizontal piece of wood. We secured it the same as the first horizontal board.

Here is the door with both horizontal pieces. 

Now time for the diagonal piece that completes the “Z”. 

We used a Starrett protractor to measure odd angles.

We placed the diagonal board on the two horizontal boards and measured the angle. It was 35.5 degrees. 

We adjusted the miter saw 35.5 degrees and cut the first end.

We cut the first end and put it in place.

Then we measured . . .

And then cut the second end.

Now that is a perfect fit! You, GO Neal!

We clamped this piece in place.

Next, we clamped a more narrow leftover board on the underside to trace a line (both sides of the narrow board) so Neal would know where to put screws.  

We clamped down a level to push this diagonal board in place while Neal screwed it in place.    

Here is Neal screwing the diagonal board from the underside. 

Neal planed the edges of the door to make it smooth.

Voila! It is smooth! Nice job, Neal!

Here you can see the underside with all the screws.

And the FINAL door!

Preparing the Door Opening

Now we move down to the dock to prepare the door opening. 

Neal measured and cut the first 2×4 (to close in the door opening a little). 

He nailed it in place.  

Now we want to add trim, but we need to chisel the end pieces of the flag, so the trim will lay flat. First, he made an indention with the chisel. 

Then he started chiseling out each section.

And now the trim lays perfectly flat. 

Neal nailed this in place.

Next, he measured, cut, and nailed a piece of trim (also where the barn door hardware will be installed) across the top.

We are now ready to install the barn door hardware. 

We ordered the barn door hardware on Amazon. Neal followed the installation directions that came with the hardware. 

Below is a picture with the door closed. Later, Neal installed a handle on the door.

constructed exterior barn door DIY home improvement project

Thank you for reading our blog post! Please give us feedback by commenting below.

If you don’t want to build a barn door, WhiteShanty.com, the largest sliding barn door manufacturer in America located in Collegeville, PA is a great source for barn doors.

Click here to see our blog post about painting the American flag on our dock closet.

Click here if you want to see our blog post about dock construction.

Don’t forget to Pin this for future reference.

pinterest pin how to build a barn door

Thanks for reading our blog post! Please give us feedback on our barn door project by commenting below!

12 Comments

  1. Jan on 10/17/2018 at 5:22 PM

    This is AWESOME!

  2. Gigi on 10/27/2018 at 11:02 AM

    Thanks for the detailed directions! You helped me get my confidence to make a barn door for my pantry.

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    • Suzanne on 11/02/2018 at 8:17 AM

      Will,
      Thanks for taking the time to write such an affirming comment about our blog post. We try hard to provide detailed steps to our readers. In addition, all our blog posts feature our actual projects. Thanks again for your feedback and sharing the article!
      Suzanne

  4. Sannygeway on 12/07/2018 at 6:57 PM

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  5. Sannygeway on 12/11/2018 at 1:06 PM

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  6. Willie on 04/08/2019 at 5:50 PM

    Thanks, it’s quite informative

  7. Arnold on 04/17/2019 at 2:13 AM

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  8. Georgie on 05/18/2019 at 5:25 PM

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  10. Lake House Renovation on 04/15/2020 at 8:01 PM

    […] here to see how we built a barn door for our dock […]

  11. Adrienne on 05/28/2020 at 12:20 PM

    This looks great. I didn’t think of using a barndoor outside. I want to do this to my garden shed.

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