How (and Why) to Install a Sliding Barn Door in your Chicken Coop

October 30, 2017


While I certainly love building stuff and tackling DIY projects, I'm far from being an expert. I sort of learn as I go along, and often make mistakes along the way. My scrap pile of mistakes sometimes grows larger, but those scraps always come in handy for a future project! In the end, most things come out just fine. The most recent example of this was my determination to install a sliding barn door in my chicken coop.

Like many of you, I've become a bit obsessed with HGTV's Fixer Upper and Chip and Joanna's house makeovers featuring shiplap, white subway tile and everything farmhouse. I was already in love with their design style, but my recent trip to Waco to visit Magnolia Market at the Silos really sealed the deal.
 
Since my husband wouldn't let me stage a #demoday and redo the inside of our house (imagine that!), my only option was to redo the inside of our coop. So I covered up the pink floral vinyl shelf liner "wallpaper" I had put up when we first got the coop with white shiplap, which turned out to be incredibly easy to install. Just measure, cut, and nail into place, working from the bottom up. In addition to installing the shiplap and adding some cute farm decor, I decided I wanted to replace the current door inside the coop with a sliding barn door.

Why Divide your Coop?

There are lots of reasons to have a divided coop. When I was designing my coop with Horizon Structures, I requested that a dividing wall be constructed to give me storage space right inside my coop. It's nice to have storage for feed, treats, straw or shavings, plus first aid supplies. I have subsequently added a small brooder/nursery in the storage area, under the shelving, where a broody hen can hatch and raise her chicks in peace - safe from the rest of the flock. A divider is also nice when you are integrating new flock members, have an injured hen, or need to separate a bully. 

Dividing the coop also has the added benefit of keeping the sleeping area warmer in the winter. The smaller square footage will be much easier for my girls to keep warm with their body heat, which is really important here in Maine. 


The original divider was an open-air wire wall - which allowed feathers, straw and dust to drift in from the sleeping area and collect in the storage area - so I decided to cover the wire with shiplap - a solid wall will keep the storage area much cleaner (although I did leave the top area open wire for good air flow and ventilation). 

Why a Sliding Barn Door?

I originally was just going to try to find an old rustic, chippy door at an antique store and install it with hinges to replace the original wire door, but then I had a better idea. In the winter when I keep a thick layer of straw on the floor as insulation from the cold, it's hard to open the door, since it swings open out into the coop. If I replaced the existing door with a sliding door, that problem would be solved. Far easier to just slide a door along the wall, than pull it open.

Even with a foot of straw bedding on the floor, it's still easy to slide the door, and if the ducks are bedded down by the door, it disturbs them far less than a swinging door would.

Building the Door

Since I soon realized it would be near impossible to actually find a door that was the right size (and also found out that doors can be pretty pricey), I decided to build one myself. I took measurements of the opening and sketched out my vision. Then I just cut some pine boards to the right length, screwed them together by making a wooden frame around the outer edge, then added a bit of decorative framing and a handle. 



I couldn't decide whether to leave the door natural, stain it or paint it, so in the end I just applied a light coat of clear polyurethane to it to bring out the natural beauty of the pine.

When the door was dry, I began to attach the door hardware. Unfortunately, it required a Forstner drill bit - which I didn't have - but thanks to Amazon Prime, $10 and two days later one arrived, only delaying my project a bit. (And as an aside, this is a really cool bit that I have already used for two projects that will be in my new book coming out next fall! So I highly recommend buying one if you are thinking about installing a door and don't have one.)


Installing the Track



Anyway, while I was waiting for the new drill bit, I decided to get the door track installed. First I first screwed a header board across the top above where the shiplap ended into the side beam supports. For extra support, I screwed a second board to that board from the back with the wire "wall" sandwiched in between. 

Then I measured where the track needed to go in order for the door to have enough room to clear the floor and actually slide. With a pencil and yard stick, I drew a horizontal line across the support board, then marked where the holes in the track were.


I pre-drilled holes into the board then screwed the track to the board. Fortunately the hardware kit came with pretty good instructions, even for someone who had never hung a door before! But I still threaded the screw, spacer and washer on in the wrong order the first time and had to fix them.  But once I got the hang of it the track went up pretty quickly and easily.

Hanging the Door and Installing the Door Stop


And once the track was up, it was just a simple matter of lifting the door up onto the track. Then I screwed the door stop to the floor - this required a bit of jerry rigging on my part. I'm not sure if I was sent the wrong parts or it was operator error, but either way, the door now stops nicely where it's supposed to! 


I added a seasonal wreath and my door was done! And I have to say that I absolutely love my new sliding barn door! It's not only beautiful, but also really super functional. It's so much more practical as far as the space it takes up than a swinging door, and I love that I can even open and close it with an elbow or my foot when my hands are full.

Most of all, I'm so proud that I did it all by myself.  And I think even the chickens like it!


p.s. a huge thank you to my farm friend (you know who you are!) for giving me encouragement and making me believe I could actually do it!)
Buying Sources:
White Shiplap
Barn Door Hardware Kit
Forstner Drill Bit 
Horizon Structures Coop

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