I am looking to replace the door to my master bathroom with a sliding barn door style and was wondering is there anything I should be aware of while planning this. The reason I am looking to do it because the current door opens up right on top of the shower area and I was looking at ways to allow for more room with the door open.

I have included a picture of the door in question that includes where the new door would go.

The width of the door is just under 29 and 3/4 inches and the wall to the left of the door is just under 30 inches.

Picture of Door


5 Answers 5


Barn doors are well-nigh impossible to seal, so sound and drafts pass around gap between the door and the wall (required for the door to be able to move) with ease. Thus, certain functions you may expect a bathroom door to perform, they won't, for most intents and purposes.

  • 5
    You can "test the idea out" by removing the door and temporarily replacing it with a curtain, before committing to a barn door, if you have not bought the barn door already. Functionally pretty close to the same...
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 22:50
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    I've been in hotels that did have a barndoor to the bathroom. It failed in all the ways you'd expect a partially open door to fail. Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 5:18
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    Agree 100%. Stayed in a hotel with a barn door bathroom. Me, my wife and 2 (adult) kids. Because the door doesn't close all the way it was... awkward. And this is coming from a family that grew up in a house with 1 bathroom and often had to share the bathroom when one was showering and another needed to get in there.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 12:55
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    Another sound problem in my experience is that barn doors tend to be noisier when opening/closing than regular ones (or maybe this one just wasn't properly installed/cleaned)... but the one time I stayed in a hotel with one, it also woke me up everytime another person opened/closed that barn door. We ended up just leaving it open all night. Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 14:56
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    I stayed at a place once where they had a barn-style-door on a bathroom. If you have an exhaust fan, the lack of a 'seal' isn't a big deal for odors and it can actually improve the fan's performance. Noise/visibility is a different issue. One problem we had was the door would easily come off of the track and trap kids etc. in the bathroom.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 20:56

My experience with barn doors is somewhat limited, but here is a list of issues I had to consider when I put a few up.

1-Space, Specifically wall apace. You need a clear wall to one side of the door opening.

2- Distance, The distance the wall has to be clear should be a minimum of 4 inches longer than the doorway opening. ( more about this later)

3- Obstructions- Remember that things like wall switches, outlets, other doors ( when open) will be obstructed when the barn door is open. Plan accordingly and avoid this situation if possible.

4- Size, The door should be larger than the opening so there is about a 2 inch overlap. Without this privacy is lost because there is that small gap the ability to see past the edge of the door and into the space. In a bathroom this can be a big issue. (Don't allow this. If you do your spouse will hate it.) Get a door and hardware kit that suits a door 4 inches bigger. If the wall space only allows say 3" the door will overlap the opening when open by 1" but this is a reasonable compromise to get that privacy.

5- The hardware, The specific hardware to hang a barn door may require another inch or 2 for anchors and bumpers. Be aware of that specification prior to ordering a kit.

Good Luck

  • What is the size of thew door opening, and the length of the wall to the left of the door?
    – RMDman
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 22:56
  • Added to the question but the door is about 29 and 3/4 inches and the wall is just under 30 inches
    – Joe W
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 23:45
  • You don't have much room for the overlap. You may get away with a 32" door.
    – RMDman
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 0:21

Another way you may possibly solve your problem, while also avoiding the problem with size and the gap left by a sliding door, is by using either a lengthwise split or bifold door, going into your existing jamb. The open door should then only reach halfway as far toward the shower as your current full-size door. (I guess one could also get 2 bifold sections with a split in the middle to get up to a quarter of the size required.)

I have seen a bifold door in practice at a friend's house that had a small guest toilet with limited space under the stairs. Split doors are of course common in e.g. cabinets.

A websearch returns various pictures, some even for bathroom doors. I do not want to limit the possibilities by adding just one example (and possibly injuring someone's copyright) :-)

One potential problem I can foresee is that it is somewhat difficult to keep the door fully closed (locking in the middle is more difficult than with a single-leaf door). Various hardware solutions have been developed over the years. Obviously the more mechanics, the more finnicky the installation (and usage) can be, so one has to be aware that there are trade-offs.

Whether this answer is useful will obviously depend a lot on the particulars of your situation and hardware available in your locale.

  • That is an interesting possibility
    – Joe W
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 16:59

Have you looked into doing a Pocket door? I love a proper, well done barn door, but in the instance of a bathroom, not just for privacy reasons, but steam, moisture, etc. aswell as your limited available wall space, pocket door may be more suitable, granted not as easy by any means, but I have seen several people do it(ie: YouTube) and rather well I might add. There is a Old Construction Kit or two out there on the market aswell if I’m remembering correctly. Good Luck!

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    Adding a pocket door is a lot more work and it doesn't look like it would really work in the space that is available.
    – Joe W
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 17:24
  • @JoeW It's hard to tell from the picture. What's the measurement from the opening to the corner? Is there any plumbing or electrical on the inside of wall? Harder question: do you know which way to the ceiling joists run?
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 20:48
  • @JimmyJames I included the measurements in the question as well.
    – Joe W
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 21:22
  • My first thought as well. Even though the wall (on the left) that would hold the pocket frame may not be quite long enough, it would be fine for the door to stay an inch or so out of the frame. Some hardware options actually require that. Although, pocket kits I've used only have 1/2-3/4" end frame and have a finished opening about 1/2 inch narrower than the door itself to prevent a gap when closed, so it might sit flush after all. If that wall isn't bearing and free of immovable utilities, it would be worth measuring a kit to verify final dimensions.
    – brichins
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 5:13

In the UK it's common to have 3 hinges on a fire door. I don't think I can see intumescent strips on the frame or the door (which would further indicate a fire door) but thought I'd mention it. Even if it is a fire door, it might not need to be one as it's a bathroom. In summary, make sure it's not supposed to be a fire door.

An alternative to a barn door, is a pocket door, but check for hidden electrics / plumbing if you opt for a pocket door. If there's a wall mounted sink for example, you'd need to relocate the plumbing for that.

Another alternative might be just to hang the door on the other side, so that the hinges are on the left as viewed.

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    It would be rather odd to have a fire rated door on a bathroom...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 12:56
  • I would be shocked if a bathroom door in a bedroom required a fire door. Also a pocket door is not desired due to the extra amount of work and money that is required to put one in versus hanging a sliding barn door.
    – Joe W
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 13:36
  • @FreeMan. I agree, but it's not impossible. If this is a protected stairwell and the bathroom had another exit leading to a bedroom, which itself did not have a fire door, then I believe that the door in question would be required to be a fire door. For an example layout, see nhbc guidance Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 15:08

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