DIY Barn Doors Part 1: How to Frame a Doorway for Barn Doors

Happy September, friends! I am so stoked for this fall – we are almost there!! As you may have seen on the Hello Hayley 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: How to Frame a Doorway for Barn Doors!

Part 2: How to Build Barn Doors
Part 3: Hanging the Barn Doors

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 convert the hinged doorway into a walkway! 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.

how to frame a doorway for barn doors - before picture

How to Frame a Doorway for Barn Doors

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.

frame 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.

frame 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!

frame 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 overfill 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!

frame a doorway for barn doors - After

frame a doorway for barn doors - before and after

How to frame 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.

If you have any questions about how to frame a doorway for barn doors, just leave me a comment and I’ll get back to ya ASAP!

All ready to start building your barn doors? Click here to continue to Part 2! 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!! ????

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33 thoughts on “DIY Barn Doors Part 1: How to Frame a Doorway for Barn Doors”

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  2. Pingback: How to Build Barn Doors | DIY Project | Rise and Renovate

  3. Hello Thanks for taking out time to answer questions
    I bought two beautiful barn yard doors from a thrift store. There 81”x 24” each. I want them to open to the right. When I’m looking for hardware kit the thickness of the my door is 1/4” thinner than recommended. Can I put a small piece of wood under the henge to hang the door, without it looking tacky

    1. Hayley Rissler

      First choice would be to find a kit that is suitable for a thinner door. You could try adding a small piece of wood, and I don’t think it’s look tacky, just make sure it’s SUPER secure to the door and that all the hardware goes through the wood and well into the door. You don’t want the piece of wood to have to bear much weight, since the doors are so heavy.

  4. This was exactly what I needed! I was going to just use quarter rounds and mud the entry way and hoped it looked good enough. This is so much better and it looks great. Good job! I like how it even seems to open up the entry way by removing the door jams which is what we currently have going on.

  5. Kelli Yount

    We are doing a little remodeling to our master bath. There is no door in between to bed and bath so decided to get a barn door. Well when the door came in it is about 4 inches too short. In ideas on how to make it work? I can send a picture but don’t see how to add in this comment box…

  6. Great post! Going from a pocket door that keeps getting stuck to a barn door for the bathroom. The extra 3 inches around the door is critical. Also, don’t forget the extra height you need. I use that same 3” extra on the height. I decided to take the sliding door trim off the top and pocket side and went all the way back to remove all of the added wood. To fill it in I used a 1×6 common kiln dried pine board first followed by a premium square edged 1×6 kiln dried pine boards to finish it off. Then just prime and pain and install matching trim for a nice finished walkway or walkthrough look.

    1. Monica R Hoff

      Mark, how would you do this for a bathroom pocket door for privacy purposes & afix a lock?
      Thanks in advance!

  7. Hi! When we went to take off the door stop in the middle, we realized it’s completely attached to our trim as 2 pieces. Can we get any tips on what to do

    1. It’s hard to understand without seeing it, but if it doesn’t come off cleanly and can’t be patched, you maybe have to replace all the trim.

  8. Casey Nicole Warf

    Bought an older home remodeling. Have been searching how to prep a door for a barn door. We want to put one in replace of the door that leads to our finished basement. That being said…is it ok to leave the trim on that surrounds to door. I noticed that yours were still on in the photos. Will this hinder the door from sliding on the tracks?

    1. You’ll need to measure how far out your barn door hardware holds the door and see if your door will clear the trim!

  9. Kathleen Tritschler

    This tutorial was inspiring, I can get this done. Have a bathroom door that opens out into hall, which is awkward. Thank you for explaining. One question, with the barn door, you don’t have as tight of a closure as with regular door? Is this correct? Thank you.

    1. That’s correct, the closure isn’t as tight. You could always put a book on to latch it, but these aren’t as tight a fit as a regular door.

    2. I’ve read if you your door is at least 3 inches larger on each side it will help conceal the gap. Our plan is to make a custom door to help hide any gapping.

  10. Reva Dirickson

    Any ideas for adding inside trim to cover a gap in the end of barn door? I think my doors are just not quite wide enough. Didn’t know to buy the door wider than the existing opening. We’re using bypass barn doors but they have a gap on the ends. Can we add trim to the inside of the existing opening to fill in the gap?

  11. Hi hayley,
    Thanks for this!
    I’m just finishing building a new house and am interested in preparing a barn door for our bathroom. Since it’s a new build there is currently no framing on the entrance, where the door will be hanging. I’m not sure how to prepare the framing and if it’s something I can do myself.
    Would appreciate any guidance.

  12. We are installing a barn door where there was previously a regular door. I have removed the door and frame completely so now there is just a hole. Should install regular door trim around the walkway?

    1. Hi Dylan! Yes, you’ll need to have some sort of frame there. We left most of the frame intact, just removed the strip that runs along the middle. You’ll need to build on a new frame if all that’s left is drywall/studs.

  13. How much larger than the door frame did you make your barn door?

  14. Hello! Very helpful!! What are your thoughts on removing the trim on the outside of the door frame?!

    1. Hi Ce Ce! I would leave it. Unless you could dry wall it in, you’ll need some sort of frame around the walkway to make it look finished.

  15. Just a heads up that not all doorways have a separate piece of trim you can just pull out. Many home door frame verticals have wood that is literally notched instead of having a simple piece of trim down the middle that one can cut out – we learned that the hard way in trying this not long ago and realized it was not an added piece of trim! So some folks will have to replace the verticals of the door frame with a new piece of wood.

  16. How do you enclose the area from where the pocket door will be removed?

    1. Hi Cathy – Hmmm, we didn’t have to do this for our project, but you would need to cover that area with another piece of wood. You could either fit a piece of wood for that cavity and nail it in from the outside edges of the frame (this would be the “smoothest” look). Then, you could smooth it off with wood filler (linked in the post). Another option would be to add a piece of trim all the way around the door frame that’s slightly larger than that opening to cover it up. Hope this helps!

  17. How do you do the part of a door jam where there is a hole from the hardware where the closes when it’s not is double door? Getting ready to take our master bathroom door off and replace it with a barn door since our bathroom door and shower door swings into each other. I’m tired of so many doors in our master bedroom! We have 4 regular doors and 1 pocket door!

    1. Too many doors is so annoying!! That’s how our master bathroom was! 3 doors that all swung into each other!

      Anyway, I would recommend filling that hole with wood filler, letting it fully cure and dry (as per directions), then sanding it smooth and painting over it! Hope that helps! ????

  18. 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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