An Old-Fashioned Barn Raising

DIY Barn doors are a great way to bring neighbors together to work on a project and build relationships that last.

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Our neighbor, Shelby, called and asked if my husband, Brian, and I wanted to help her with an old-fashioned barn raising. Then correcting herself, “well, maybe just the door.”  My husband had built a beautiful barn door for the storage area in our basement, I liked to refinish furniture and have a paint sprayer, add in Mike, a neighbor that’s an engineer, and his wife, Chris, who is the life of the party and you have yourself a “barn-raising”! We would accomplish this over a couple of weekends and the finished product was something that brought us all together and helped strengthen our sense of community with our neighbors and dear friends.

This post isn’t necessarily going to be about building the doors, which I will show the steps, but about being a good neighbor.  To live in a great neighborhood, you first have to be a good neighbor. If you focus on what you can do to improve those living around you, then most likely it will come full circle.

Be Hospitable

My husband and I are the “newbies” of the neighborhood, we’ve only lived here for 6 years. Moving into a neighborhood where there are already established friend groups can be difficult, but fortunately for us, the neighbors were welcoming and invited us to their gatherings.  In return, we love to host impromptu get-togethers as well.  Usually, a quick text message to the group can lead to drinks and appetizers at a willing house.

Be Charitable

Shelby sent me a text saying, “if you pick up your dog poop, I’ll cut your grass”. Confused by this, I sent a questioning text back. Her response, “I wanted to free up Brian’s time, so he can help me build the doors”. Hilarious!! Of course, she didn’t need to do anything for us in order to get help.

A good neighbor should always be willing to help each other out with projects, yard work, moving furniture, choosing paint colors, etc.  We definitely utilize everyone’s talents in the neighborhood, hence, the barn door.

Setting the header and track- This is where the engineering minds came into play. The door opening is huge! Factor in the length of having the doors open, which extends past the actual doors, and we had a run of 16 feet.  My husband has a great supply of tools and is more than happy to loan them out for the job.

Building the door- Mike asked if Shelby was wanting a Norm Abrams door or a Chip and Joanna door? Norm is from “This Old House” and is a master carpenter, Chip and Joanna are from Fixer Upper and tend to have a more “rustic” look.  She chose to go for the “rustic” look.

Each of us can pitch in and share our talents. My husband and Mike are great with building and figuring out the design.

Adding the finish- Now for the fun! I have done a multitude of finishes on furniture before and Shelby was wanting to learn, so she did all of the work, I just gave a bit of advice.

  1. Caulk & fill nail holes with wood putty, Sand when dry.
  2. Prime doors- use a good quality primer, roll on or brush as needed
  3. Paint doors- We did this on a warm, sunny day using an electric paint sprayer. Use the recommendations on your paint sprayer with how to dilute your paint. Spray on thin even coats and reapply as necessary.  Shelby knew she wanted a rustic look, so she experimented on scrap lumber. Make sure the paint is completely dry before turning over to do the back side.
  4.  Sand- After the paint is fully dry, she then sanded rough spots to give it a worn look.
  5. Stain- Once the paint is fully dry, take any color stain you choose (she used ebony), wipe on and wipe off until you get your desired look.  She then sanded further to give her the exact look she was going for.
  6. Sand- with fine grit sandpaper

Hanging the finished doors- this is where all hands were needed.  These doors were heavy. The hardware was purchased on Amazon was fairly easy to install. The handles were found at Hobby Lobby. They turned out beautifully and were exactly what Shelby wanted.

Be Generous

Another aspect of being a good neighbor is generosity.  We all pitch-in for numerous things.  Whether it be helping on a project, our Christmas gift exchange of homemade turtles, cheeseballs, or cookies, or making sure each other’s animals are let outside when their owner can’t make it home. It is this spirit of family that makes our community such a great place to live.


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