What Is a Barn Door and How Does It Work?

Posted by The Barn Door Hardware Store on Jan 12th 2024

Looking to divide up your space in an appealing and unique way? Sick of boring doors, or have an awkward space that doesn’t suit a traditional door? Barn doors could be just the solution you need!

These attractive, charming sliding doors work well in a multitude of spaces and bring extra love and attractiveness to your spaces. But what is a barn door anyway? And what sets them apart?

We’ll answer these questions and more for you in this in-depth post! If you’re looking for:

  • An overview of the barn door
  • A rundown of how they work
  • Different types of barn doors
  • Benefits and drawbacks of barn doors
  • Places to put a barn door
  • Cost and maintenance

Or more general questions, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive in!

Overview of a Barn Door

Barn doors are a stylized type of sliding door, generally used in the interior of your home or office. They’re great for dividing more open-plan homes, so you can choose when you want flow and when you want separation.

These doors are generally categorized by their three key components, the door panel, the hardware, and the installation process.

Door Panel

The door panel might be the feature of barn doors that distinguish them from one another most obviously. The panels can be made from different materials, such as wood, glass, or metal, or a combination!

There are also different paneling styles, colors, paints, and decorative features. That way, you can get a barn door that suits your style and needs.


The hardware encompasses the handles, tracks, rollers, and locking mechanisms present on the door. These vary in style as well as in the practical purpose that they serve.

You can either get all of your hardware in one place with a hardware kit or purchase the individual components separately as needed. Some options even include the door panels as well!

Installation Process

Many barn doors are easy to install yourself, especially if you’re handy and have some basic tools at home. However, other doors are more complex, fragile, or heavy and require professional installation.

How Barn Doors Work

Barn doors open using a sliding mechanism. There are wheels on either side of the top of the door that slot into a track mounted onto the wall (and sometimes to the ceiling as well!).

The weight of the door holds it in place, and the door slides smoothly to open and close. The same mechanism is used for bypass barn doors (sets of two doors that overlap), but the door is simply extended further from the wall.

Types of Barn Doors

There are many different types of barn doors out there, so there’s bound to be one for you!

Make sure to keep your measurements, space needs, and aesthetics of the existing room in mind when choosing the perfect door:

Sliding Barn Doors


Sliding barn doors are probably the most popular and basic type of barn door! They feature a single door and use simple hardware that enables them to slide from covering the door frame to being beside it against the wall.

You can get simple, wooden sliding barn doors that go amazingly in a pared-down or rustic home. However, this door style is also available in many different colors and materials.

Hinged Barn Doors

Hinged barn doors aren’t usually what’s meant by the modern usage of the term “barn door”, but you may come across them anyway! These doors, as indicated in the name, have hinges – meaning they swing outwards.

While these doors are not as space-saving as sliding barn doors, their wood paneling and dark metal hardware make them just as aesthetically appealing and they may be a great option if you have the space.

Dutch Barn Doors

Similarly, Dutch barn doors are an amazing statement piece and a cool feature for your home, though they’re also not strictly practical.

These doors are segmented in the middle, so you can open just the top half of the door if you like. Dutch barn doors at an amazing homey and vintage feel to any space!

Bypass Barn Doors

As mentioned above, bypass barn doors are doors that overlap. This enables the doors to stack neatly on the same side – saving even more space – as well as allowing you to half open them on either side.

Bypass barn doors are an amazing choice for bigger room dividers and closet doors.

Double Barn Doors

Double barn doors are simply two sliding doors side by side! They’re an increasingly popular option as they often cover a large door frame where hinged doors would not be practical.

Plus, they add a really fun, dramatic flair when you open or shut them!

Z-Frame Barn Doors

“Z-frame” refers to the style of bracing used on these doors. They have a single, diagonal beam running across the door.

Historically, this frame would be used to reinforce the door against the elements or perhaps unruly livestock. However, with interior doors, its purpose is primarily aesthetic.

X-Frame Barn Doors

X-frameis another popular bracing style! With these doors, two diagonal beams are used, forming an X shape.

This style looks classic, appealing, and rustic. It’s also useful as reinforcement for exterior or heavier doors.

Chevron Barn Doors

Chevron barn doors use layered planks in a stacked arrowhead pattern on the outside of the door.

As well as looking beautiful, these doors are more water and grime-resistant than some other types as the layers are tilted downwards.

You can get plain and simple chevron barn doors, but using a variety of woodgrains adds visual interest and makes them really appealing.

Alternatively, if you want your door to be really bold, you can get chevron barn doors with different types of wood or colors of painted wood making up the paneling!

Plank Barn Doors

Plank barn doors usually refer to a simple paneling style of parallel planks of wood making up the door.

You can get the planks lined up either horizontally (which looks sleek and classic) or stack them vertically – giving a modern and unique appearance.

Some plank barn doors also have gaps in the planking, which adds a casual, beachy vibe and works well to keep things airy and light. They’re a great option in closets and ensuite bathrooms!

Glass Barn Doors

If you don’t want full separation between two spaces, glass barn doors are an awesome choice. They are made of either a single sheet of glass in a frame or several different panes of glass.

You can also opt for frosted or distortion glass if you’d still like some privacy. These doors are amazing at keeping your home feeling light and open while still dividing a space.

While the above are the main categories of barn doors, there are even more out there! No matter your needs, a barn door is likely to be a great solution for your home.

Benefits of Choosing a Barn Door

There are many great reasons to choose a barn door! It’s difficult to boil it down to a few simple benefits, but our top picks have to be:

Space optimization

Having a door that doesn’t need to swing outwards is such a space saver!

Incorporating barn doors allows furniture and other bulky items to be placed with more freedom.

This also really comes in handy for small spaces like closets and half baths, allowing you to access the full space and not be awkwardly cramped coming in or out.


Barn doors also allow you to choose just how open you want your space to be! They look seamless when shut, natural when open, or even part-way open.

Aesthetic appeal

These doors are an attractive addition to any home! There are so many different styles to choose from, so they match with almost any aesthetic and are always an eye-catcher.


Barn doors are also practical for everyday use. They’re simple to use, well suited to purpose, and quickly become an unconscious addition to the flow of your home.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

While we love barn doors, there are a few drawbacks to consider just like with any other product However, most of the downsides of barn doors can be mitigated with a little creative problem-solving!

Sound Dampening

Perhaps the most common concern about barn doors is that they are less sound proof than standard doors.

This is true to an extent, as there has to be a slight gap between the door and the wall for them to function.

However, the difference is pretty minimal – you just need to ensure that you get the right-sized barn door and install it correctly (or get it professionally installed.)!

Utilizing door sweeps or using the door in carpeted rooms also works to further minimize noise transmission.

Hardware Noise

Barn doors do make a slight rumbling, rolling noise when opening or closing due to the sliding mechanism.

However, it’s a trade-off for the sound of doors slamming – which is worth it to many, especially if you have kids (or teens) at home!

Many hardware kits also feature soft close options and low-noise wheels.

Unlevel Houses

Unfortunately, barn doors might not be the best choice for you if your house isn’t level. This can cause the doors to roll open or shut on their own.

Luckily, it’s still possible to use barn doors in an older or unlevel home! Just take extra care to hang them in line with the discrepancy, or get them custom-built.

Alternatively, you can just get a simple latching mechanism that will keep them in place.

Where Can You Use a Barn Door?

In short, you can use a barn door in any interior doorway you like!

There are different doors that will be best suited for different places; however, there are certainly some rooms that are more popular than others. Here are the most common places to install a barn door:

Bedroom closet doors

Barn doors are so great for bedroom closets! The sliding feature is such a space saver in the bedroom, and there won’t be much lost wall space on either side of the closet opening.

Depending on the closet size, you can choose double or single barn doors for this use. For small closets, even bi-fold doors can be used.

Bathroom entryways

Barn doors are also excellent for bathroom entryways. Along with their usual benefits, they also allow for greater ventilation – minimizing moisture buildup.

While you can use them for any bathroom, they’re better for dividing ensuites and hallway restrooms.

If you have a central bathroom of a living space, you may want to consider extra noise dampening and a locking mechanism for privacy reasons!

Kitchen pantry access

While there are many practical reasons for a barn door for your kitchen pantry (such as saving space and the ability to slide it shut with your hands full), they’re also really aesthetically pleasing in kitchens.

Barn doors give such a homey, warm, and welcoming feel to any kitchen.

Media room dividers

Barn doors are a great choice for any room that you want to be partially closed off from.

If you’d like a little stylish distance from the video game sounds or girls' night in the other room, a barn door is an ideal solution.

Home office entry

Similarly, barn doors are well suited for the home office when you need a little peace and quiet but don’t want to feel totally cut off from the rest of the house!

They are also a great way to close off more cluttered rooms (like home offices and laundry rooms) when you have company or just don’t feel like looking at (or cleaning) the mess.

Maintenance of Barn Doors

Barn doors don't require any more regular or expensive maintenance than any other door. It is a slightly different process of course though!

Day to day, you can dust your barn doors gently with a duster or microfiber cloth – but that’s all they’ll need regularly!

If they get dirty or you’re doing a deep clean, you can clean wooden barn doors with a light furniture polish, metal doors with an all-purpose cleaner, and glass doors with glass cleaner and a streak-free cloth.

Make sure to take extra care with painted or treated doors and to always follow manufacturer instructions!

It’s also key to regularly clean and maintain your hardware to keep your doors rolling smoothly.

As well as dusting, you can clean your hardware with a damp cloth and vinegar or all-purpose cleaner. You can lubricate the moving parts with WD-40, or even a dab of olive oil!

How much a barn door can cost?

Barn doors generally cost around 600 dollars, but can be lower if you find a good deal!

The upper end is around 800 to 100 dollars but can vary massively depending on door size, material, type of hardware, and customization.

You also need to consider how many doors you will need for your space. Here are a few pricing examples:

  • Unfinished barn door: $349
  • Finished, colored, and designed pine wood door: $629
  • 96” tall barn door: $829
  • Sliding non-bypass barn door hardware kit: $129
  • Black rustic ceiling mount double track bypass sliding barn door hardware kit for two/double doors: $369.