Our pantry doors were driving me batty! They opened out, which covered up the silverware drawers when open, which made unloading the dishwasher impossible.
I solved this problem by removing those doors and installing a sliding door:
Much better! So, how did I turn this old door into a sliding door? Here’s how.
First, here’s what you need for this project:
1 door (see cost below, then gasp with surprise)
3 eyebolts – large. Mine were 3/8″ x 4 7/8″ ($3.28 each = $9.84)
3 rigid casters – I used 2″ casters ($2.98 each = $8.94)
2 floor flanges – 1/2″ size ($10.21 each = $20.42)
2 90 degree elbows – 1/2″ size ($1.92 each = $3.84)
2 connecting nipples – 1/2″ size ($1.58 each = $3.16)
1 galvanized pipe – cut to size and threaded, 1/2″ pipe ($13.54). Home Depot will cut the pipe and thread the cut side of the pipe for you; other hardware stores may charge you for this.
Measure the size pipe you need by where the flanges/brackets are going to be screwed into the wall. Make sure that the flanges are being screwed into studs; this sucker’s heavy. Go ahead and mark the studs when you measure; you’ll thank me later.
2 pull plates in satin aluminum ($16.98 each = $33.96)
I found the door at a thrift store for a whopping $1.99! No, I’m not kidding. I was somewhat baffled by the price, but I didn’t ask – lest they change their minds! Anyway, the door was about 2 inches wider than my door frame, which was fine since it would be sliding in front of the frame. When choosing a door for this project, it’s better to have one that is about an inch larger than the frame on each side.
OK, here’s what to do to turn a door into a sliding door:
To get the door ready for this project, remove all the old hardware from the door – i.e., the hinges and doorknob. Because this was an old door, the hinges had been painted over several times. To get the hinges off, first I had to get the paint off.
To do this, I used a variation on the crockpot method of cleaning door hardware. Do you know about this? You can put paint-covered door hinges in a crockpot with hot water and the paint will eventually just fall off the hardware. (If you watch Rehab Addict, you know what I’m talking about.)
Obviously, I couldn’t fit a door in my crockpot, so I made a portable method. I took a rag and soaked it in really hot water. Then I laid the rag on the hinges and left it there until it was cool again. Once I removed the rag, the paint had softened and easily came off!
Once you have the hardware off, you can use wood filler and paint to cover up where the hinges were.
For the sliding track, I could have ordered sliding barn door hardware, but, let’s face it, I’m
cheap thrifty. I didn’t want to spend that much on this project. So, I did what any cheapskate would do and found a DIY alternative.
I basically followed Mandi’s tutorial at Vintage Revivals, which you can find HERE.
First, I screwed the casters into the bottom of the door. I predrilled the holes because this door is old solid wood. Solid. Solid as a rock.
Make sure that the casters are in line along the bottom of the door. To do this, draw a straight, level line across the bottom of the door and line the casters up along it. I added three casters, because the door is heavy (the Vintage Revival tutorial uses two casters).
Also, make sure your casters are RIGID and not the kind that swivel. You just need them to roll in a straight line; if they swivel, you will be sorry. (Can anyone say “door on the loose”?)
Next, I added the eyebolts to the top of the door. I found the largest eyebolts that Home Depot had that the pipe would fit through (3/8″ x 4 7/8″). I predrilled the holes and screwed them in.
Space the eyebolts evenly along the top edge of the door.
Here’s the tricky part: Ideally, you want the eyebolts to be level with one another; in other words, each screwed in to the same height. Here’s the problem: I live in an old house. Nothing is square or level. So I needed the eye bolts to mirror the slant of the kitchen floor.
Why? Because the eye bolts are just a guide for the door; you don’t want the weight of the door on the eyebolts. The weight of the door should be on the casters.
So, the first time I tried the door, I had the eyebolts level with one another, and I heard this horrible nails-on-chalkboard sound when the door slid along the track! ACK. One of the eyebolts was too high – given the slant of the floor – and it was rubbing against the pipe when it slid.
Trust me: you do not want to hear this sound. (The dogs hid after hearing it.)
Moral of the story: gauge the slant of the floor (or, if you are mathmatically inclined, calculate it) and then mirror the height of the eyebolts to that slant.
(Interestingly, I later saw homeowners tackle this very same problem on American Rehab: Detroit. It was nice knowing it wasn’t just my old house problem!!)
Anyhoo…if you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to mark where the studs are in the wall where you’re going to attach the flanges.
Next, put together the track.
Screw the connecting nipple into the floor flange, then screw the elbow onto the nipple. Make sure these are nice and tight. Then screw the pipe into one of the elbows.
Thread the free end of the pipe through the eyebolts. Then screw the remaining elbow/bracket onto the pipe. Now you should have the track installed on the door and you just have to affix it to the wall.
Before you start the installation process, find a friend or partner or someone who can help you. This is a two-person project.
sucker helper to hold the door level against the frame, where the door is going to slide. While your friend is struggling holding the door, your job is to install the track.
Make sure the pipe/track is level. A level with a magnetic side is helpful here (or you might need a third person to hold the level). Mark the holes in the flange on the wall and pre-drill the holes. You should be drilling into studs, so pre-drilling will help. I used 2″ deck screws to attach the flange to the wall.
Attach both flanges to the wall and try sliding the door. Did you hear the creepy scraping sound? If not, woo hoo! You did it right!
If you hear the crazy scraping sound, you’ll have to adjust the eyebolts, which means removing one flange from the wall and unscrewing the pipe and adjusting the eyebolts.
In other words, you really don’t want to have to do this. That said, naturally, I had to do this. Twice. Did I mention I live in an old, not-level-or-square house? Right.
Lastly, install the door handles. I used handles I bought at the store, but you can DIY these with pipes and fittings as well (see Mandi’s tutorial). Draw a level line on the door so that you install the handle level. I installed it over the hole where the old knob was. Do the same thing on both sides of the door.
I love, love, love this door!
It’s a vintage door. It’s industrial looking. The whole thing cost about $100 ($102.38, to be exact). And I can load my dishwasher without wishing evil on a door.
Please let me know if you have any questions about this (or any) project!
For more projects using repurposed doors, please see THIS POST.