I remember 15 years ago when I would tell friends that I manufacture barn door hardware and barn doors. They would always ask “Are there a lot of barns around here?” The concept of using barn doors inside the home was very foreign and uncommon. Now, it is a staple of interior design! However, there are still lots of questions from barn door hardware fans that we are still here to help answer.
When ordering barn door hardware, the most common question I hear is all based on whether or not to order the track with holes in it? There really is an easy answer here but it largely depends on the state of the wall to which the hardware will be installed.
You will want to order your track with pre-drilled holes IF;
1. You have solid blocking in your wall to which the track will be mounted.Blocking is typically a 2x6 or 2x8 that is cut to fit between your studs and affixed to mount flush with the edges of the wall studs with the bottom of the 2x6 or 2x8 lining up with the top of the door opening. This should extend from the edge of the closed side of the opening all the way in the direction that the door will slide open at least double the full width of the door. This is the solid framing to which your track will be affixed.
2. You are using an external header board.An external header board is a solid piece of lumber that takes the place of solid blocking within your wall framing. It is typically a 1x6–1x8 and extends 2” further from the end of your track on either side. The header board can be ordered as a paint grade plank of hardwood or a stain grade. You may choose to paint the header board to match your wall or stain to match your door. The header board is installed to the studs and then your track is installed to the header. The possible downside of using an external header is that is will change the look of your barn door hardware system. Instead of affixing your track to the wall, you will be installing it to a stepped out header board. This will create more dimension and depth to your barn door and hardware system. This is only bad if you are trying to achieve a more clean and simple look. However, it can be a visual advantage if it fits the look you are going for.
When you consider ordering track without holes and without a header, keep in mind that the possible downside is that you are now going to have to identify where your studs are and make corresponding marks onto your track. Then you will have to drill 7/16” holes into your track. This can be tricky if you are not familiar with drilling into metal. It is not the same as drilling into wood and you run the risk of ruining your drill bit as well as heat treating the metal track if done improperly.
To properly drill into your track, you will need a smaller pilot hole that you drill with a cobalt 3/16” drill bit for heavy steel. Then, using your drill on the slowest setting and centering the tip of the drill bit on the mark on your track, apply about 1/4 of your upper body weight in pressure and begin drilling. Often times the tendency is to drill faster to muscle through the steel. However, steel cuts very differently than wood and a slower RPM with higher pressure will result in a faster and cleaner cut. This technique will also prevent the steel from heating up and becoming harder the more you drill. If you make this mistake, you will notice that the bit is not discharging wiry strands of the cut metal but rather very small chips or even metal dust. If this is happening then don't keep drilling. You will burn up the bit and harden the steel making it even more difficult to complete the hole. It is likely that you need to apply more pressure and/or reduce the speed of the drill. Once you have completed the pilot hole, then using the same speed and pressure, drill the larger hole. WD40 or another lubricant for steel can be used to make a clean cut hole but is not necessary if the proper techniques are applied.
Other tips for drilling holes into your barn door hardware track;1. Keep the drill bit very straight. Tilting the bit during the drilling process can result in the bit snapping under the pressure and torque.
2. Use a bit of painters tape over the area to be drilled and mark your hole over the tape.This will help protect the surface of the track while drilling as sharp strands of metal will be twirling around with the rotation of the bit and are very likely to scratch the surrounding area of the hole.
3. Place a piece of scrap wood like a 2x4 under the track before drilling the hole. The bit will have a place to go once through the metal without damaging your floor or the bit.
4. Once you are close to drilling through the back side of the track, you will want to speed up the rotation just a little as well as back off the pressure. There will only be a very thin pice of metal at this point to drill through and the bit will have a tendency to bind up as it starts to pierce completely through. The higher speed and lower pressure will cut less aggressively and help to avoid binding the bit.
5. Wear safety glasses and gloves. When drilling into metal, small shards can be propelled toward your face and they are going to be hot! These shards can be very sharp and are likely to cut you if you handle them without gloves.
All of Rustica’s flat track barn door hardware is offered with the option of pre-drilled holes in your requested locations or no holes (except for end holes). Note: End holes are required as they are used by our finish team to hang the track in the powder coating ovens for the final premium baked powder coated finish on each barn door system.
View all our flat track barn door hardware options with pre-drilled holes or end holes only here.