DIY Barn Doors Part 1: How to Prep the Doorway

Happy September, friends! I am so stoked for this fall – we are almost there!! As you may have seen on the Rise & Renovate Facebook or Instagram, we’ve been working on an exciting new project: BARN DOORS! We have a loft upstairs with double doors, and we’re replacing them with two barn doors. There are a few different stages of this project, so today I’m excited to share Part 1: Prepping the doorway!

Now, you can’t just slap up a couple barn doors and expect them to look Pinterest-worthy (unfortunately, lolol). If the doorway already had doors in it, you’ll need to take them off and make it look like they were never there! This includes taking off all the existing door hardware and smoothing out the sides and top panels so it looks more like a walkway than a doorway.

Prepping a doorway for barn doors - Wall Before

Step 1: Removing the Doors & Door Hardware

Taking off the doors should be surprisingly easy. There’s a peg in the top of each door hinge – just pull it out, or grab a hammer to help knock it out. Once you take the peg out the hinge will come loose.

Once you have the doors off, take off ALL the hardware attached to the door frame. It should just take a screwdriver to take out the screws and the hardware will pop off.

Prepping a doorway for barn doors - Removing Hardware

Step 2: Remove the Inner Trim

In every doorway there’s a piece of trim running in the middle that keeps the door from swinging all the way open to the other side – see it in the last picture? We need to take that off. Fortunately, it’s usually just a piece of wood nailed on there and can be pried off with a wedge and mallet! It’s really fun tearing it apart and makes me feel like Chip Gaines on demo day. Hehehe.

Prepping a doorway for barn doors - Removing trim

After removing all the hardware and extra trim, make sure to scrape off any loose paint with a scraper and remove any excess nails or staples sticking out from the doorway.

Step 3: Smooth Out the Doorway with Spackling

Now that all the hardware and extra trim is removed, you’ll need to smooth out the inside surfaces with lightweight spackling. I LOVE spackling – it’s great for projects like this and filling in nail holes in the wall. It’s also just really satisfying to work with!

For this step, you’ll need lightweight spackling, a putty knife, and fine/220 grit sandpaper. You can also get it all in this kit (affiliate link) on Amazon!

Prepping a doorway for barn doors - How to spackle

Use a putty knife to smooth spackling over the spot where the hardware used to be. The spackling should slightly over fill the spot, as you’ll be sanding it smooth later. Make sure to spread the spackling slightly outside of the spot, too, so there’s a nice transition between where the spot was and the rest of the surface.

We like to let it dry overnight so that it’s completely dry before sanding. Otherwise, chunks will fall off when you try to sand! No good! So once it’s dry, take the 220 grit sand paper and lightly smooth out the surface. When you run your hand over the surface, you shouldn’t be able to feel where the spot was.

Once it’s smooth, take a lightly damp towel and wipe off the surfaces to remove excess dust.

Step 4: Paint the Walkway with Your Trim Color

Now that the doorway (now just a walkway!) is completely prepped, it’s time to paint! If you don’t already have the exact paint color of your trim, I recommend taking the piece of trim you pried off in Step 2 to Home Depot and having them do a color match. You’ll want to get a semi-gloss finish so it’s easier to keep clean!

Prepping a doorway for barn doors - After

How to Remove Door Hardware - Before and After

Prepping a doorway for barn doors - After
Now your doorway-turned-walkway is barn door ready! This technique is incredibly handy anywhere you want to remove a door in your home. For example, our master bathroom had 3 doors in a 3 sq ft space. I was getting lost in doors. We removed the door from our walk-in closet, converted it to a walkway, and it feels way less cluttered.

ANYWAY, like I said before, this is just PART ONE of our barn door project! I’m thrilled to share Part 2 with you, which will involve actually building the doors! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a little sneak peek!

Lots of progress last weekend on our DIY barn doors!! Finished product + DIY blog post coming soon!! 😍

A post shared by Hayley (@riseandrenovate) on

Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 next week! See ya then!

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  1. Thank you so much for your post! I had been searching and searching for something like this and never found it until now. It’s been so helpful in prepping my doorway for my sliding barn door. Everyone else mentions something in passing or doesn’t address it at all. Thank you for taking the time to talk about this very important step.

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