Barn Door Finish

To start the door re-finishing, I first prep the lumber and hardware.  I picked up some larger door handles and a six pack of thicker, longer, heavier faux door hinges.  (A little secret, the new door hinges were actually plastic instead of metal so they were actually cheaper than the smaller, metal hinges I had before.)

I tacked my top rails up first making sure to have them level across the top.  I then cut and installed the trim boards running straight up so I could line them up with the bottom and make sure they looked square.  A little trick to make the center line which would be where the two barn doors met more visible, I hit the edges that would be meeting with my random orbit sander so they would be chamfered down a bit and enhance the appearance that they were actually separate doors.

After they were up, I started the angled boards that would be the cross bracing.  The intended look is for the diagonal pieces to look like solid support braces that span the door, so originally, I started to measure these as one long board and then cut it in half.  The problem with that method is when you cut them in half you loos the length from the thickness of the saw blade and they don’t end up flush with the frame.  So the best way to do it is to select pieces long enough to span the distance, mark one small section, cut and install it and then mark the second piece.  You’ll want to use a long board for the first piece so you can make sure that your angles are all correct.  Geometry would suggest that 45 degree angles would be sufficient, but that only works if everything is square, which mine was not.

Once the boards were up and secure, a little caulking is necessary to fill any gaps that are present so water won’t get behind the trim and cause it to rot.  This was not done on the original trim so many of the boards were pulling away from the door.  Next, I needed to get the paint for the exterior of the house out of the attic.  Once down, there was one little problem; the paint had molded from being exposed to the changing temperatures and smelled disgusting.  No problem, a short trip to Lowes with a piece of wood from the exterior, quick color match and I’m on my way home to put on the finishing touches.

Once the paint dried for a few hours, I just needed a few turns of the drill to set my hardware and I was finished.


And there it is!  The finished product.  Only a few hours of work and the front “grill” of our little house is ready to show to the world! (Or at least our street)  

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Tools & Tricks for the Trade

Since the price of a new garage door (at least a high-end barn door style door) is a bit out of our budget, we will have to do what we can with what we have.    The door was already half trimmed out with 1 x 4 cedar so I decided to stay with the same idea, finish it out and dress it up with some new paint and hardware.  Instead of buying new 1 x 4 cedars, I found some 1 x 8 scraps lying around and had them ripped down to the correct width.  This was nice because I could get two 1 x 4 pieces from each 1 x 8.

For tools, my supplies were also limited.  Ideally, having a mitre saw would best, but since I didn’t have access to one this weekend I had to do it all with what I had available:

For power tools,  I used my Black & Decker Firestorm Skillsaw, Dewalt Power Drill and Dewalt Random Orbit Sander.  The B & D Saws work pretty well and are easy to manuever since they don’t have any plugs, but just be sure to have an extra battery around because they can run out of power pretty quick.

To draw the lines and angles, all that is needed is a Framer’s square and Carpenter’s pencil.  Carpenter’s pencils work best because they have thick lead which doesn’t brake on the rough edges of the cedar when marking the lines for the angles. The screwdriver will be used for a little trick I came up with that I’ll show you in a minute.

Finally, a little Alex Plus caulking and cheap caulk gun to fill the gaps along the boards.

I also purchesd 2 boxes of Star head exterior screws.  Exterior screws are designed so you won’t get the little black runs down the front when it rains and the star tips are nice because they don’t strip out as easliy.  You will also need semi-strong tape (Duct or Masking will work fine).

Now for the part that can drive some people a little nuts.  When placing the top board, it’s important to take into account the break at the top when the door opens (specifically, the break is when the door first pulls back from the frame).  If you place it too high, the beam could get knocked off or damaged, too low and you’ve got a gap showing at the top that takes away from the barn door affect.  I didn’t want to just guess and I wasn’t going to tack an entire board along the top to find out, not to mention the fact that I would need to take into account the height of the new, thicker garage door hardware.  So I came up with this little solution.


Using a scrap piece of the 1 x 4, I inserted a screw to be the exact height of the faux hinge hardware.  I would then use this piece as my test strip along the top edge of the door to find the highest point at which I could place by top rail.  Use the tape to secure the test piece at the top of the door, open-close, move accordingly, open-close again until you find the highest point that you can place the top rail.  By using the tape, if it hits the frame around your garage door, it will just fall off and you will avoid doing any damage to the door, frame or trim pieces.


Another little trick, as you can see, I removed the 1 x 2 trim board that went along the top of my frame.  This gave me a little more room to raise my top rail.  After I’m done, I’ll fill in the gaps on the side with scrap 1 x 2, caulk, paint and no one will be the wiser.  Now I can finally get started on the main portion of this job, trimming out the door with the new cedar boards!

I need a Door Dentist.

Imagine for a moment that houses are people.  Now when we meet someone for the first time, our first impression of them is based on their looks, (that is unless you meet said person on the phone by which you would get to know them first and then see them). Regardless, we will eventually use our eyes to make a decision about the individual and determine which role in our lives they will hold.  “Is this someone I could see myself spending time with?”  With that idea in mind, when we see a house or person, we will make our initial impression about the possibility of spending some significant time with this house based on the exterior appearance.  No one says “I really want to date an UGLY person!  Bad hair, creepy eyes, jacked up teeth, OH YES!”  Now with the house, the yard is definitely the hair.  And if you’ve ever seen the Amityville Horror, you know that the windows of a house are it’s eyes.  As for the teeth, this honor would have to go to the garage door.

So 3 months ago, Erin and I moved into a new, old Ranch style house.  Originally built in the 1950’s, this house had been through some changes over the past 60 years.  The yard was pretty  well done by the previous owners with the exception of a few areas; the windows were worn, but had that old style charm; and the garage door…well let’s just say that this lady needed a definite trip to the dentist.

As you can see, it looks a like this smile has a few to0 many trips to the candy store and not enough dates with a toothbrush, so to speak.  It’s not a crackhead eating Cheetos and dark chocolate bad, but it doesn’t necessarily make you want to snuggle up to it on a stormy night either .  So my task for this week is to take this shabby looking kisser and turn it into something that won’t make my house want to curl it’s lips down in shame.  I’ll be doing this on a minimal budget and limited tools but I’m optimistic that it can be done.  We shall see.