Doors are fascinating as they're used for 2 opposing functions — to expand our view when open and to hide or close off our world when we want privacy in our homes, or need to hide a messy closet (we've all got these). Doors were originally used for safety and they've evolved over thousands of years to fill many roles, both functional and more aesthetic with the personality we give our homes.
Barn doors are rather unique as they don't swing when you open and close them. This probably has a lot to do with their weight as they're typically very wide and really heavy so finding hinges to support the weight is a challenge. So let's explore the benefits of doors that slide versus swing, and the many ways in which we can use these to save space in our homes.
Sliding Doors at Home
Barn doors aren't the only type of sliding doors found in homes. Barn doors are known more for outdoor applications, for barns and garages but that doesn't mean they can't be used indoors as this story is meant to illustrate. Here are the sliding doors found in homes and if I've missed one, let me know so I can add to the list.
- One of the most common sliding doors is the closet door, with either 2 or 3 panels, where one panel slides in front of another.
- Sliding glass patio doors are also very common and incredibly functional — great views of your backyard, easy access from the house to a deck or patio without losing any space for a swinging door.
- Rolling shower doors for combination shower/bathtubs provide easy access in the smallest rooms we have, and play an important role in keeping the water inside the tub.
- Garage doors sometimes adopt the barn door style where there isn't enough room for swinging doors and the homeowners don't want to use today's
- Pocket doors are similar to barn doors and use similar sliding hardware. They slide inside a wall cavity left open to hold the door when open. Pocket doors are tricky to repair when they get off their tracks inside the wall or when small children hide things in the opening … and beware, you cannot hang kitchen cabinets or other heavy wall hangings on these walls (we had to move our microwave).
- Japanese shoji screens are beautiful and practical. They provide privacy while letting natural sunlight shine through the rice paper and they're used as doors for rooms, closets and more decorative uses.
Barn Doors Slide Over a Wall
Barn doors are really practical as they don't require the traditional space you see on floor plans, dedicated to the door swing. These doors slide open and closed so you simply need enough wall space on one side of the door and rather than try to explain how it works, you can watch this video where I'm talking to Chris Corson, EcoCor Design/Build … as he designed and built this super-insulated house along with these wonderful barn doors.