How to Straighten a Warped Barn Door

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Barnboard has become very popular in home decor; wood reclaimed from old barns being demolished.  That rustic look left unfinished adds a warming, countrified look in both new and old houses. 

Home decor has also borrowed barn door design and functionality, now often seen in house construction.  A top-hung sliding door between a home’s rooms is called a barn door for aesthetic purposes and functional benefit.  These interior doors look good, and they don’t take up any floor space opening and closing.

In building a barn door for an interior doorway in your house, there are a few things to consider to avoid the common problem of warping. 

Why Did My Barn Door Warp?

Solid wooden doors are susceptible to warping as humidity and temperature fluctuate.  Over time, that push-pull of swelling and contracting from increased moisture content and warmer temperatures will affect your barn door, and they’ll become bent or bowed.

If that bend or bow is minimal, it may not be apparent and may not interfere with the smooth sliding to open and close.  But if it is something more, it will show, and it will neither sit flush with the wall when open nor close fully.

You can hermetically seal your home and thereby prevent warping, but we know that’s not going to happen.  Humidity and temperature are going to affect your barn door, so we need to look elsewhere for solutions. 

Can You Straighten a Warped Wooden Door?

Yes, you can.  If the wooden door is only slightly bowed, take it down, lay it on the floor with the bow up, and place a heavy weight across that area of the door.  Leave it on the door for a day or two, and check the warp again.  Slight bows will respond to this cure.

If your entire barn door is warped, though, more drastic action will be required.  Place heavy, wet towels or blankets and lay them on the door.  Evenly distribute weights on the door, and increase the weights each day until the door has straightened.  Be sure to keep the towels or blankets wet during this time as well, as this will keep the wood flexible and more prone to straightening under the weights. 

When you see the door has flattened, remove the wet towels or blankets, but leave the weights in place.  Allow the door to dry fully under the weights before rehanging.

If it happened once, though, it’s likely to happen again. It’s an annoyance having to straighten a warped door, but it’s not the end of the world.  Perhaps there are steps to be taken, though, to prevent or at least lessen the odds of warping.

How Do You Stop Barn Doors From Warping?

Barn Doors

Are there measures you can take to prevent an interior barn door from warping?  Yes, there are, and they do not necessarily require expert woodworking skills.

Sealing Wood Ends

Moisture enters and leaves wood much faster from its end grain than from its surface.  Warping is caused by uneven drying of wood that has absorbed moisture.  By sealing wood ends, they will not dry faster and shrink more quickly than the rest of the wood.  An even drying eliminates the stress that can cause warping.

Use Engineered Wood

Engineered wood, also called manufactured wood, can be used to stabilize a barn door.  Engineered wood is manufactured by binding wood strands, particles and fibers, and board with adhesive and high pressure.  The composite thus formed, when of high manufacturing standards, is highly durable, and has a greater temperature tolerance, and is moisture resistant.

Using engineered wood for the stiles and rails of your barn door will give it greater structural strength, along with the added value of withstanding temperature swings and higher humidity.

Stiles and rails are the framing and cross strips on the door, whether in the shape of a cross or corner to corner.  They will prevent the doors’ boards or panels from bending or bowing from season to season and add strength to the door’s structure.

Engineered wood can be finished with veneer, but it also can take staining and painting as well. The stiles and rails add a nice architectural feature to the doors and keep with real barn doors that are the inspiration for interior barn doors.

They make a nice statement in the decor of your home.  They are easy to build and easy to hang, and following these two simple suggestions can lessen the chances of a bend or a bow.  As you can see, though, even in the worst of circumstances, a bend or a bow can be cured.  

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