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Double bypass sliding barn door system – A DIY FAIL

Last week in my guest room reveal I mentioned the closet doors and how they were one of my biggest DIY fails to date. So let’s talk about that.

DIY barn door FAIL - lessons learned

I was really excited about these and planned to write this great tutorial, because really…who wouldn’t want an awesome DIY double bypass sliding barn door system (say that five times fast)? No one, that’s who… it sounds amazing.

tutorial collage

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

DIY barn door FAIL - what not to do

You’re probably thinking that it doesn’t look that bad (besides the shadowy horrible picture). You’d be right, somehow the pictures make it kinda (sorta) look like a success. Don’t be fooled though, it’s a giant fail. I wish I had a video recording of the moment Adam and I got them all installed and stepped back to look at them, because it would be quite entertaining. We didn’t even say a word…we both just looked at it, walked away, and went and angry cleaned (you do that too, right?)

So what were all the problems? First of all, the doors weren’t wide enough.

DIY barn closet door FAIL

We made the doors larger than the opening (like a foot bigger), but it wasn’t enough. For the doors to overlap each other and the closet they have to be really wide…we probably should have added another foot to each door.

Second, the gap between the barn doors and the wall looked completely ridiculous.

DIY barn door fail

In order for the doors to pass each other two guide rails had to be installed. We made everything as compact and close to the wall as possible, but that still left the outer door almost six inches off the wall. In some rooms this might be okay, but considering the placement of our (on the same wall as the entry door) it looked…dumb. So dumb.

DIY sliding barn door hardware

Third, the wheels scratched up my floors the first time I slid them (they’re made out of paper though, so no real surprise).

rolling barn doors

None of those even matter compared to this last one though.

worst DIY fails

Those eye hooks are supposed to be guides that keep the door on track (they don’t hold the door up), and according to other DIY blogs I read before trying this, they shouldn’t make any noise. Now I’m not saying that they’re lying….. but they’re definitely not telling the truth. Either that or they have magical DIY powers that Adam and I don’t possess, because ours was like nails a chalkboard times 1,000. I should have recorded that noise too, so that everyone could experience the horror. It’s definitely the second worse noise in the world…the first being when someone eats a banana next to you and chews with their mouth open. The riper the banana the worse it is… I’m getting all twitchy just thinking about it. Bananas are gross.

Anyway, we removed the barn doors and hardware and put the old doors (that I took off years ago) back up.  I’ve been meaning to throw them away for forever, but never got to it. Good thing!

boring side

As we were talking down the barn doors Adam said “How much do you think this little adventure cost us?” And without thinking I replied “in time or money?” Haha…leave it to me to make it worse. So now all I’m left with is a pile of expensive piping I can’t return, some holes in my ceiling that need patching, and two barn doors with a “free” sign on them out by the road.

I still love barn doors and we have five planned for the new house. Guess what we’ll be splurging on? Yup, you guessed it…barn door hardware. The real thing.

Has anyone tried making their own barn door hardware? Any successes?

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  1. we made one big barn door on same metal pipes & made it to close off hallway. It is beautiful! And so LOUD and obnoxious to close we never do so. EVER. simply decoration. its a half fail but I feel your pain.

  2. I used a metal pipe and hung curtains on it with metal curtain rings and even THAT sound is super grading on my nerves. It is nuts how expensive barn door hardware is. I am wondering if I could use bipass closet door hardware and build a cornice around it . After all, my fixation is with the door, not the hardware. So if I mounted a ledge to the wall that I put the sliding track on the bottom of and then built a box around the ledge to hide the boring hardware and added some molding… Is there something about this plan that is an immediately obvious fail? Or what about the cleat that you mount IKEA cabinets on? One half screws to the wall, the other half on the back of the door + some casters. That might be a terrible metal on metal sound, too.

  3. Wow, I’ve never even seen sliding doors like that… is that particular to barn doors? I’m guessing there’s probably a reason you didn’t just use an ordinary track system above and below the doors… ? I don’t really know what I’m talking about though. Thanks for posting a fail… it makes us all feel better! :)

    1. I’ve just seen this idea floating around and liked it, plus it matched the pipe curtain rods I have in the room. The doors that I ended up putting back on use a track system, and it’s practically silent. I hated those boring old doors before…but now, now I appreciate them :)

  4. YES!!!! We also had this kind of door. Last year when we moved into our new house, we had a door that led to our bathroom but it was in a weird spot that cut off a lot of bedroom space. Because we didn’t have much money, I used this same method, but used the current door. THE NOISE WAS HORRIBLE!!! We lasted a year because we really tried not to use it as much, but it was a definitely failure. 2 months ago I upgraded the hardware to REAL barn door hardware and made a wood door. Worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY!

  5. Well, I no longer want DIY barn doors! So sorry you had a fail – but I love all your other projects in your house and your guest room.

  6. I’ve followed your blog for some time and always love the things you do and the way you write about it, but this one takes the cake! I love that you two didn’t even say anything and then just angry cleaned. I truly LOL’d at that and I have done the same thing many times.
    I built cabinets in our laundry room to accommodate our new stacked washer and dryer. It took me 3 months and at least 3 tries to get each section right as it was my first major home improvement project. I appreciate that you share ALL your stories, not just the Pinterestily perfect ones! My Mom and I live together and she’s gotten used to the face I make when a project isn’t going well. She just makes me something to eat and leaves me alone.
    Keep up the great work both on your home and this blog!

    1. Thanks Denese! I think posting fails is important…I often learn more from those than from a successful project.

      Also, I love that your mom makes you something to eat when a project goes bad!

  7. I definitely angry clean. That’s how frustrated my husband knows I am with something. The more I scrub, the better I feel. LOL!! I am so glad that you posted this fail! I’ve been following your blog for a long time now and I love how open and honest you are. It’s refreshing to see a DIY blogger who admits defeat. Most have a ‘martha stewart, its a good thing’ attitude. And that gets old real quick. I hope you have a wonderful week. Thanks again for this post. I loved it! ;)

    1. Oh no, I knew from the second I started this blog that there was no way I was going to pretend to be Martha. Actually, that reminds me of a story. So the other day Levi’s preschool teacher told me that in class they were doing circle time and each kid was supposed to take turns describing their mom. I’m sure most of the kids were like “she fun, beautiful, a good cook,” or whatever. You know what Levi said? “My moms a hot mess.” Haha…I can’t even hide it from a three year old!

      Anyway, thanks for sticking around for so long, I appreciate it!

  8. Thanks for your honesty! I enjoyed reading this post, so at least there’s that! I love the doors you made and wish I was your neighbor to take them off your hands!

    1. I wish you were too, it felt like such a waste to put them out by the street! They’re gone now, not sure of someone grabbed them or the garbage man took them. We might of hung onto them for a future use, but they were a little warped, honestly. Next time we make doors they are gong to be much thicker!

  9. Thank you so, so, so (plus more so’s) much for posting this failure!! You have done the world of DIYers such a favour!!! I, too, had seen this method on all the blogs I read and literally am stripping down two old doors to do JUST this thing!!!! Aaaaggghhh!!! I have to admit, I have wondered how bad the noise would be, but NOBODY ever mentions it! I tried to source my gal pipe and flanges, so asked a builder friend where I might buy them, and explained what I was going to do…. “Liz, that will sound shocking! Every time you move the door, it’d be awful. Let me put some real tracking or barn door fittings up for you”, said Kevin the builder friend. I was pretty put out, thinking he really had no idea, and that all those DIY bloggers would surely have mentioned it. Truthfully, today I was going to tell him I was doing it this way, so I could do it myself. TODAY! PHEW!!!! Dodged a bullet! Sigh. Wow. You’re right, of course, even those metal curtain thingies sound shocking against the metal rods – THAT”S why I donated all mine to charity IMMEDIATELY after I bought them.

    Good grief. No. Not an epic fail at all……. A SERVICE TO MANKIND! Thank you, thank you.
    Liz (Australia)

  10. http://www.lynneknowlton.com/?s=Barn+door+hardware From Design the Life You Want to Live
    This is an awesome and fun blog, and she has some really great information about the door tracks and a free door track tutorial on the blog and a place to purchase the wheels that she has researched and recommended. It is very interesting, and hopefully you can get an idea even if you don’t get her wheels.

  11. Love the banana part, I could hear it!!! Aside from that (still laughing!) I have a suggestion. Why don’t you faux paint your old doors to look like barn wood doors? My Woodchuck man built a hot tub shed (use the word ‘shed’ loosely–he built a ‘tiny home’ lol, so he could use it in the winter as well) out of old corral lumber we scavenged from a farm. The ceiling & baseboards were recycled wood (also scavenged) so I painted and stained it to look the same as the barn board. Turned out great! No one can tell the difference. No, I’m not trying to show you up either!! ;) :)

  12. You are by far my favorite decorating/design blog because you embrace the fails. And you don’t try and paint a picture-perfect view of your life. Love it! We won’t know for sure until after the new year but it does look like the Army will be sending us to San Antonio next summer. We’re looking forward to it. But right now, I am dreaming of Fort Drum again and cooler temperatures. :)

    1. Aww, thanks Karen! That would be awesome if you came to San Antonio, you will love it. Although, if you’re dreaming of Fort Drum again you may not…there are no cooler temperatures here, just shorts and T-shits on Christmas, haha.

        1. Hahaha, dangit! Between this and consistently typing “panty” instead of “pantry” I must subconsciously have something against r’s.

  13. Angry cleaned, hahaha! How great that you both did it.
    Questions: what if you put both doors on one track, the one closer to the wall? Could they just meet each other and not be so far from the wall and maybe cover the width that way? Also, what if you changed out the pipe to a wooden dowel with threaded ends that you sprayed in the colour of the metal, like aluminum or whatever? Just wondering, obvs it’s a moot point at this time.
    Sorry you had a fail, but thanks for the entertaining post! You’re a breath of fresh air in a Martha-fied world.

  14. I for one appreciate how it must feel having that door scrape across that beautiful floor! I have paper floors too… And have felt the anguish of a scraped floor! I also appreciate you sharing the failed project… I mean, you didn’t have to, but you did and now we can all benefit from it! I’m sure you’re happy to have planned for barn doors in the new house.

  15. Rub the pipes with wax paper and they will slide easier and with less noise. We used to do this with clothes racks so the hangers would slide easier.

  16. Get some Johnson Floor Wax and wax you track rails and there is NO NOISE and they slide very easy. Wax about every 3 to 6 months as needed.

  17. Ok. I think I peed my pants. ? Thank you for letting me feel that I’m not so alone in my good and bad DIY efforts.

  18. where did you get the barn doors…I am looking for those exact oneswhere did you get the barn doors…I am looking for those exact ones

  19. why not eliminate the T at both ends and instead of connecting them together, have two separate pipes where the 90 degree elbows go straight up into 4 ceiling flanges? That way you could put the pipes as close together as needed to eliminate your gap off the wall. And instead of using the eye hooks, use casters to run along the top of the pipes. This would probably be most effective if you made the pipes weight bearing by mounting directly in to your ceiling joists.

  20. Wow. I am sorry for your pain because I have felt it a million times over. I think I am so handy with every project I do, but they all seem to end in pain and expense. I am full of great ideas, I am an amazing designer (in my head). I get really frustrated, the DYI peeps make it look sooooo easy. It has taken me years and tons of dollars to just give up and hire someone that can make your visions work. I want to thank you for posting your failures. I am so happy that I am not alone. I take solace in the fact that I am lucky enough to have DYI ideas at all after all my failed projects. THANX ” A MILLION TIME OVER” XOXO

  21. I found your post regarding DIY hardware really amusing but not in a mean way. Your candidness was truly informative. I myself have two 4 ft wide openings with 71 inches wall space between them that I wanted two tracks, two door panels per opening. I wasn’t going to DIY (I admire your courageousness) but was working with a company out of Bozeman MT. My failure is that the day I ordered the doors and hardware, they went out of business. Now I’m back to square one finding another manufacturer.

    Best Regards,

  22. A simple solution for the Barn Door’s in the bedroom would be to just use one larger door to cover. You still get the same style. Problem solved.

  23. I made some similar to yours, but made sure the guides were larger than the rods, and the weight was on the wheels, which faced side to side not rotating… also I mounted the flanges on the wall. I wish I could include a picture but alas not an option. I liked your info !

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