Do You Need a Header Board for Barn Doors?

Posted by The Barn Door Hardware Store on May 31st 2024

Barn doors between rooms are an exciting design feature that many people opt for when building or renovating their houses.

Not only are the doors highly practical but they also add considerable aesthetic appeal to any space as they fit just about every design style.

If you have chosen a barn door for your next project, you may be aware that you might need to also install a header board.

A header board is a structural addition to a barn door that ensures it is fit for purpose and properly installed. However, if you have never installed a barn door before you might be wondering if the header board is actually necessary.

To help you out, we have put together this comprehensive guide that will answer your question of whether you need a header board for barn doors. We will cover:

  • The role of a header board
  • Scenarios when a header board is necessary
  • Scenarios when a header board is not necessary

Let’s get into it!

Understanding the Role of a Header Board

A header board is a piece of wood that acts as a stabilizing feature of a barn door.

It is placed horizontally across the top of the door frame and allows for ease of use, as well as a sturdy and durable door.

Additionally, the header board is also used as a mount for the track that the barn door needs to slide from side to side.

The main purpose of a header board is to stabilize the door. It does this by evenly distributing the weight of the barn door and its rail system, taking the weight off the doorframe and preventing any future damage from occurring.

As barn doors are typically very heavy, a header board is therefore a crucial part of the installation, as it preserves the structural integrity of the door and prevents the door frame from cracking under the door’s weight.

If you are a first-time barn door installer, you may not have envisioned including a header board with your barn door installation.

However, there are many benefits to using a header board that will ultimately improve your renovation in the long run.

The biggest upside to the header board is its stabilizing capabilities, as without it you would soon find the condition of your barn door and doorframe starting to deteriorate, leading to costly repairs and decreased functionality.

A header board also increases the functionality of the door.

By evenly distributing the weight of the door and providing a level surface for the tracks to be attached to, the overall sliding mechanism of the door is much smoother, and the chances of the tracks becoming misaligned with use are significantly lowered.

Finally, a header board can increase the aesthetic value of your barn door.

The great part about a header board is that it is 100% customizable to your design preferences!

You can choose materials and paint colors that work seamlessly with your barn door, or you could even paint it the same color as your existing wall.

No matter what, the result is a smooth and sleek finish that will leave you with a door to be proud of!

Scenarios When a Header Board is Necessary

If you are thinking of installing a barn door, you may be wondering if it is necessary to also install a header board.

To give you a better idea of your next steps, here are the most common scenarios in which a header board is typically required.

New Construction

The most common and crucial scenario in which a barn door needs a header board is when the construction project is new.

If a project is new, it likely means that adequate support and foundation have not been built, and you are therefore required to take extra steps to ensure the stability and longevity of your project.

If you are using a barn door as a part of your new construction project, it is advisable that you install a header board alongside the door to ensure your barn door does not put unnecessary weight on the surrounding areas and cause damage later down the line.

Existing Walls Without Blocking

Another scenario in which a header board should be installed alongside a barn door is when it is being installed on existing walls, but these walls lack blocking.

Blocking provides crucial structural stability for walls and allows them to bear weight without incurring damage.

Without blocking, walls are functional however they do not have strong stability and can be susceptible to damage if presented with too much force or weight.

As barn doors are extremely heavy, they are likely to damage walls without blocking, thus making the installation of a header board extremely important.

A header board will properly distribute the weight of the door and keep your walls intact and functional.

Heavy Barn Doors

Finally, a situation in which it is a no-brainer to install a header board is if your barn door of choice is particularly heavy.

Even if your walls have adequate blocking, they may still struggle to bear the weight of a heavy barn door.

As barn doors are often very large and made from solid pieces of wood and metal, they are a lot heavier than some people realize.

Your walls cannot cope with excessive weight no matter how sturdy they are, which is why you need to take steps to ensure the weight of your heavy barn door is properly distributed.

A header board is a quick and simple way to ensure your heavy door is installed correctly and provides additional support for your walls to ensure they remain damage-free.

Scenarios When a Header Board Might Not Be Necessary

While we may have provided you with a very broad list of scenarios in which a header board is necessary, there are some cases where it is not required. Here are some of the scenarios in which a header board might not be needed.

Lightweight Barn Doors

In some cases, a header board for your barn door might not be required if the door itself is lightweight.

While many barn doors are made of heavy materials, there are several on the market that are designed to be lightweight for the purposes of functionality and ease of installation.

If your barn door is particularly light, it may not be heavy enough to strain your walls to the point of damage, and therefore no header board is required.

However, keep in mind that even if your barn door is light, it will still require the proper hardware to be installed alongside it in order for the header board to not be needed.

Existing Walls with Blocking

Another scenario where you might not need to install a header board is if you are installing your barn door on existing walls that have proper blocking.

As blocking is designed to increase the sturdiness and structural integrity of the walls, it may provide enough support to adequately bear the weight of your barn door.

However, keep in mind that not all walls with blocking will not need a header board when installing a header board.

Sometimes, even blocking is not enough to support a barn door without additional help, and a header board may be needed.

You should always consult with a professional who will take into account the condition of the blocking, as well as the weight of the barn door you have chosen to determine whether or not a header board is necessary.