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Boat Barn:  Insulation, Windows, and Doors 

Along with the electrical installation and wiring, I chose to do all the work on the windows, doors, and insulation in the barn.
Raising the Walls           
Roof and Trim
Clerestory Windows
Back Windows
        Man Door
        Vapor Barrier Plastic

Rolling Barn Doors
Barn Home Page

Rolling Barn Doors

After weeks of wondering and worrying, the time finally came for me to start building the large barn doors.  The 18' wide front opening will be covered with three rolling doors (more on that later), and the 10' x 6' side door on the south wall gets a similar door.  I decided to begin with the "small" side door to test my construction technique and figure out the rolling door hardware.

sidedoor.jpg (35524 bytes)I built the door out of 8" v-matched (tongue and groove) pine boards, with a 3/4" pine frame screwed to the backs of the boards.  On the shop floor, I laid out the boards, face down, beginning with a full board spanning the centerline and working outwards to the proper width.  For the two edge boards, I trimmed them to the proper width as needed, which also removed the outer tongue (or groove), leaving a clean, straight edge.  With all boards laid out and the tongues fit into the grooves, I began securing the frame pieces to the back, screwing them into the boards.  Of course I made sure the door was square before securing the framework pieces.  The frame consisted of a basic 3-1/2" wide frame around the perimeter, with a 5-1/2" board across the middle of the door (horizontally), and two angled braces running from the top and bottom corners to the center.

With the frame built, I filled in the open spaces between the frame members with 3/4" foam/foil board (polyisocyanurate), which has an R-value of 5.2.  I temporarily secured the foam with drywall screws; later, I'll add some additional screws with large washers to help hold the foam in place.

doorhardware.jpg (41431 bytes)The rolling door hardware consists of a simple U-shaped track, and a bewildering array of brackets, rollers, and other unidentifiable pieces.  I scratched my head for some time over the proper arrangement of these pieces, and how to make it all work properly.  I had never used this sort of hardware before, and since Bob had some experience with it, I asked his opinion when he arrived Thursday morning.  Even he couldn't puzzle it out correctly, and we wondered what was wrong:  the hardware, or us.  The way we were trying to set it up, we couldn't figure out how a certain nut was going to allow adjustment, and we even went for a ride on a wild goose chase for a different sort of hardware.

rollers.jpg (35785 bytes)Later, after Bob had left (completing his portion of the barn construction), I sat there, annoyed that I had this hardware but that it was seemingly unusable.  There had to be something missing or incorrect, and as I looked at some of the pieces, something clicked in my mind--and I figured it out!  I was thrilled, and immediately set to work installing two sets of the rollers on my newly-completed door.  (If you want more installation details, email me.)

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The door track was a snap to install on the outside barn wall.  I installed a 14' section with special brackets spaced every other stud; the brackets went up quickly with a single lag screw each, which I buzzed in with my electric impact driver.  As I was about to try and install the door, Bob fortuitously arrived with his utility trailer to pick up the remaining construction debris, and he gave me a hand.  In seconds, the door was hung.

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The hardware worked very well, and the door rolled easily on the track.  I installed a couple accessories:  a metal bracket at the right (front) side of the door to capture the base and limit movement when closed, and a roller assembly at the back edge of the door that captures the bottom of the door when it is rolled open.  

There are still some finishing details to take care of on this door:  trim over the door track, weatherstripping, an interior handhold to operate the door, a latching system, etc.  But at least one of the large holes in the wall is filled, bringing the barn one step closer to weathertightness.

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Front Doors

After a series of measurements and calculations, I determined a size for each of the three doors required for the large opening on the front of the barn.  With such a wide (18') opening, I was attempting to create doors that would not only one be too large and unwieldy, but would also be able to be opened completely without protruding past the sides of the barn.  The logical solution would have been two doors, meeting at the center--but these would have stuck 3' or more past the sides of the building when opened.  Therefore, I chose three doors--two side sections with a third overlapping section in the center.  Because these doors would be smaller, they'd be easier to handle.  Plus, the three sections would give greater flexibility in terms of opening various sections according to need.

doorsbuilt.jpg (33779 bytes)Once the door opening was trimmed out, I measured the opening to determine the size doors required.  With the appropriate overlap, each door section needed to be 79" wide and 186" tall.  I built the doors using the same construction techniques outlined above.  As I laid out the boards for each door, I realized I was several short of what I needed, so for the last door I had to substitute some shorter boards (all that I could obtain locally at the time), with short pieces spliced on at the end.  As it turned out, this was hardly detrimental in the least, and the splices are not noticeable.  When I paint the doors later, I'll simply caulk the small seam and no one will be the wiser.  I also ran out of the 3/4" foam board insulation on the third door, so I filled in the top half of the door with what I had left, and left the bottom half for later.  Even with the door hung, insulating this portion of the door would be easy later on; it was more important to get the doors hung.

readytoraised.jpg (56471 bytes)With all three doors built, I contemplated installation.  The first thing I had to do was  install the door track.  I had determined earlier that in order to provide the proper clearance against the building, the door track brackets needed to be installed on a 3/4" trim board, so I installed a full-width pine trim board at the appropriate location above the door opening first, nailing it into position as required.  Next, I installed several of the brackets; each bracket consists of an L-shaped piece onto which are bolted, through slotted holes, two U-shaped track holders for the double track needed for the three doors.  Each bracket is secured to the building with two lag screws, so installation was quite straightforward.  Some years ago, I purchased an electric impact driver for some other project.  It's a tool I use infrequently, but sure is nice to have for such times as this, and the tool made short work of driving the lags home.

doortrack1.jpg (42189 bytes)With several brackets installed, I slid two10'  sections of the track into place in the parallel brackets.  I found it was easier to install the track through just a few brackets, then to install the remaining brackets around the track.  I continued installing the brackets, approximately 24" on center, and positioned the last bracket so that the splice between the two adjacent sections of track would be contained within.  Then, I installed the next two 10' sections, so that about 2/3 of the entire width of the opening now had track installed and ready for use.

I left the final section of track off for now, so that I could more easily raise the doors into position and get the rollers inserted into the track.  For weeks, I had been anticipating--with some foreboding--this moment:  the raising of these huge doors.  How would I do it?  How much help would I need?  Would I suffer a disaster?

raisedoor5.jpg (72505 bytes)I have this ridiculous rolling dolly that I built years ago out of a couple scraps of plywood and four casters.  It's about 3' x 4', and has proved to be invaluable for so many purposes over the years.  I've used it for moving pianos, engines, dinghies, and myriad other things.  Now I pressed it into service to help me move these large, unwieldy doors around.  I lifted the bottom edge of one of the doors onto the dolly, and then rolled it outside to the front of the barn, with the door's top edge away from the building and the bottom edge butted up to the base of the building.   

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To raise the doors, I installed an eye screw into the header above the right side of the door opening, far enough away from the termination of the door track to allow the door to be raised into a vertical position without hitting the track.  I ran a line through the eye and then secured it to a hole that I drilled through the top of the door. (I'll plug the hole later.)  I had considered tying the line around the two door rollers, but decided that it would have put an unwanted strain on the hanging bolts that might have bent them, so I came up with the other solution.

raisedoor6.jpg (77251 bytes)I secured the other end of the line to my truck, and then slowly drove forward.  As I did so, the line pulled the top of the door skyward, while the bottom of the door was immobilized by its proximity to the barn.  I admit that this process was easier--and worked better--than I had imagined, and the door was raised with no drama whatsoever.  Once vertical, I found that the door was very stable and showed no inclination to tip or fall.

1doorup.jpg (34114 bytes)With the door vertical, I raised it on some scrap blocking until the rollers were roughly in line with the track, and slid the door sideways to begin engaging the first set of rollers.  It took several trips up and down a ladder, and some shuffling of the door and its height, to get the rollers started, but once the first set was in the track, it was relatively simple to get the second set engaged.  It took about 30 minutes to raise the firsts door from start to finish, what with my general trepidation about the process.  The subsequent two doors went much quicker, once I realized how simple and effective my technique was.

2doorsup.jpg (61336 bytes) With the doors installed, I adjusted the hanging rollers as needed to level and plumb the doors, and to set them at the desired height.  Mission accomplished!  Later, I installed the final sections of track needed to span the entire width of the building, and took care of a few minor adjustments to allow the doors to operate as intended.


Final work needed to complete the doors, as of this writing, includes weatherstripping, handles and latching hardware, and more minor adjustments as needed to provide a weathertight seal.  I will also install some significant trim pieces to hide the track and enhance the weathertightness of the top portion.  All this is on the way soon.

Click here to see the trim details.

For the time being, I propped two long 2x4s along the bottoms of the doors to prevent them from swinging when closed.  A plan for the ultimate securing is coalescing in my mind as I work on and around the building, and within the next week or two I should have it all set.

bigdoors93003-o.jpg (72126 bytes)     bigdoorsopen-93003.jpg (77828 bytes)

Securing the Doors

The final stage of door construction involved figuring out a way to hold them tightly closed, to minimize drafts during the winter and prevent the doors from knocking around in any wind.  The first thing I did (though it was not ever intended to be the only thing) was to install roller guides at the base of the doors.  The guides are installed on angle brackets that I secured to the door trim on each side.  In the center, to guide the middle section of door, I secured two of the roller guides to a 2x4 that I placed before the entrance to the slab, beneath the door opening.  This board is simply held in place by the gravel and crushed rock outside the building, and also serves to span a gap that is required to allow the doors clearance to roll closed.

The roller guides were enough to prevent the doors from flopping around, but as colder weather arrived I had to face the inevitable task of finding a way to seal the air gaps around the doors, as well as to better secure them.  To begin, I installed some garage door weatherstrip on the sides of the door opening and on the center edge of the two side doors.  This material features a rubber flap that helps seal the opening as the doors slide past it.  The big pine doors tended to bend and warp depending on the weather conditions and humidity, so there was often a good-sized gap about halfway up the doors, negating the seal.  This is fine for warmer weather, but with heating season underway, I had to take action to get the doors sealed for winter.

doorhw4.jpg (60591 bytes)My first attempt involved some standard hook-eye latches.  This was lousy, and as soon as they were installed I realized it was useless.  It was difficult to get the hooks into the eyes, and impossible to pull the doors tightly enough together.  It did, however, give me the idea than worked in the end:  turnbuckles.  I purchases several turnbuckles from the hardware store, and installed them with hooks and eyes to the doors:  one on each side door, secured to the door frame, and two on the center door.  Since these are adjustable, it makes it easy to install them, and then pull the door tightly into the weatherstrip.  To hold the two side sections in the proper position relative to the opening, I installed simple barrel bolts in the center side of the door.

doorhw2.jpg (39436 bytes)Securing the center door was a little more interesting, as there was nothing to secure the turnbuckles to that would hold the door.  To get around this, I built a beam out of three 2x4s that spanned the entire door width.  I built simple brackets to hold the beam in place flush with the inside of the door frame, about halfway up the door.  Then, I could install turnbuckles from the center door to this cross beam, which pulled the door in tightly.  To prevent the beam from bending towards the door, I installed spacers against each side door, so that when the turnbuckles were tightened, it would only pull the center door in.  It worked great.

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doorhw3.jpg (42626 bytes)I only need these measures during the winter, during which time the big doors will rarely, if ever, be opened.  In the warmer weather, I'll leave most of this gear off, as the doors will be rolled open frequently.

To seal the air gaps at the bottoms of the doors, I made up the world's largest* draft stopper out of some leftover 4" insulation batts wrapped in plastic to keep them clean and dry.  This worked less well than I had hoped, so modifications are under consideration.

*Unsubstantiated by Guinness :<)

All photos and text on this site 2002-2009 by Timothy C. Lackey and Lackey Sailing, LLC
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