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How to Make a Board and Batten Exterior Barn Door (Step by Step)

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Are you looking for how to make a board and batten exterior barn door?

A board and batten style is a specific type of barn door and has become synonymous with barn doors. In this article we’ll show you step by step how you can make your own board and batten exterior barn door.

finished installation of board and batten bard door

Tools and Supplies Needed

For this project, we’re building a 32”X82” door that will cover a 30 inch exterior laundry room.

  • 3 1X12X8
  • 3 1X4X8
  • 1 1X4X10
  • 1 1X6X6
  • Box of 1 ¼ coarse thread screws

Anything to do with barn doors or barn door hardware have become Pinterest catnip the last few years. No longer are they relegated to outdoor barns. 

Here is out video of the process if you prefer video

People are putting them everywhere inside their house. The sliding function of the door is very useful in many situations where a hinged door can be in the way when it’s open. 

This article will solely be dedicated to building an actual rustic board and batten door good for outdoor temperature changes. An exterior door needs to be able to expand or contract with the weather. 

This board and batten door is built with screws. Back in the day, board and batten doors were built with clinch nails before screws were readily available. 

Clinching nails is a fastening joinery technique and I watched several demonstration videos in awe. I had never heard about clinching nails and what it entails. It’s a fascinating detail if you’re interested in woodworking history. 

Today we have screws and it’s a much faster way to join the batten (backside of door) to the boards (frontside of door). 

The two different frames allow movement while preventing the door from warping in any one direction. I needed to build one for a friend’s outside laundry area so I decided to video the process and discuss the details in this article.

Barn Door Building History

Barn doors were typically made with leftover wood from the barn build and like I said before built to withstand weather movement. 

The battens are vertical boards on the backside. I went with 1x12s that were common pine boards since they were fairly cheap. I also didn’t need the door to be water tight, since there’s a roof over the area. 

If your barn door is going to be in an open area, you’ll want to make sure that the back panels overlap in some manner via a shiplap or tongue and groove joint. 

The joints would expand but always have wood between the boards rather than a gap with a straight board. 

The front boards are a combination of 1x4s for the top, sides, middle and diagonal but the bottom is a 1×6. 

These boards were also pine but they were top choice rather than common since they would be on the outside and I wanted them to look nicer and not as warped. I think in all with a box of screws, I spent $93. 

Barn Door Building Techniques

Once I got the boards home I started to measure to see how much I needed to rip from the 1×12 boards to get to a final width of 32”. The door opening is 30” but you want to cover at least one inch on both sides. 

I don’t think I got each board the exact measurement. My method was taking out any bad areas and then making sure all three boards were within an inch of one another. The finished length was 82” so I used my miter saw to cut them down to size from the original 96” or 8 foot length.

I laid the boards flat on the sawhorses with the least amount of gap between them. Once that was done, I cut my side 1×4’s to 82” length. I then cut my top, middle and bottom 1×6 to 25” width. 

I had to clamp the back battens due to how much they were warped to align them properly with the front 1x4s. I clamped the outside front frame to get the proper side by side measurements. I then laid out my screw pattern. 

I used 1 ¼ screw lengths to make sure I would not go through the backside of my door. The total depth of my door is 1 ½ inches thick. Since the screws are visible, it’s nicer to take measurements before just screwing them in randomly. 

I used my combination square to mark one inch from each side of the bottom 1×6 and then put 2 sets of screws into each backboard. I measured ¾ inch between the side to side of the 1×4 legs to install two sets of screws.

 I repeated this step for the top 1×4 as well as the middle 1×4. I then used a smaller drill bit, I believe it was 3/32 bit for the #8 size screws, to pre-drill my holes to make sure I didn’t split the very soft pine. I then installed my screws on my perimeter 1×4 boards so I could take off the clamps before the next step.

Next was figuring out the angles to cut on each diagonal brace 1×4. I do more templating than measuring which works for me. I cut the 1x4x8 in half then placed the 1×4 over top of my door. 

I marked the middle of my 1×4 on both sides to gauge the middle of my board as well as placing it in the middle of the diagonal. Again, I was eyeballing it and wasn’t worried about being dead on since this is for an outside laundry door. 

I simply then traced the horizontal and vertical lines from the door frame under my board. It took a couple of trials and errors to get the angle correct and I intentionally cut them fat of my mark so I could tweak the angle as needed on both sides to get a tight fit. I repeated this process with the other diagonal brace 1×4. 

Next was measuring out my screw placement on both diagonals. I stayed with the ¾ inch from each side of the 1×4 with two sets of screws per each backboard. Be careful when you’re lining up your diagonal screws that you keep at least ¾ inch from each backboard. Getting closer than that has more chances of splitting.

Next is sanding any rough spots on the front and back. I power sanded the back boards and sides but hand sanded the front to make sure I didn’t sand over the screws so I didn’t take off any finish from the screws. 

Apply a Finish to Batten and Board Door

After sanding, do a thorough cleaning with a wet rag to pick up any dust or debris. A final wipe down with clean dry rag or tack cloth and you’re ready to apply a finish. My personal favorite finish that I use on everything is Waterlox. 

They have different finishes for interior or exterior projects. I use their exterior marine sealer and finish system for all my outdoor projects. For this project, my friend already used a Cabot finish on her backyard door that was next to where the barn door will be located.

She had left over so I used that to finish her barn door. It had a bit of a yellow and green tint that I wasn’t a fan of but it wasn’t my decision.

Conclusion

If you want to try your hard at making a barn door for the first time, this is the door to make. It’s very simple and can be made with just a circular saw if that’s all you have. It’s a door that is meant to look rustic which is great for beginning wood workers. Let us know how your board and batten door project comes out.

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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