What’s the Best Wood to Use for my Barn Door?

What’s the Best Wood to Use for my Barn Door?

Now the next thing on your list of things to do for your barn is to pick a door. Of course, wood door is the immediate answer that can come to your mind but there are a lot of factors that you need to consider. Most of all – what kind of wood do you want to use and what is the best wood for a barn door?

Here are some factors that you will want to consider before making your choice.

  • What is your budget?

Different types of woods have their own advantages, disadvantages, and distinct appearance, but one thing that will narrow down your choices is how much you have to spend on your barn door. Some woods are cheaper than others, while some may also be more expensive, they can last longer.

Solid wood barn doors are sturdier and last much longer, but they are heavier and cost more. You might want to consider a wood veneer door instead as a cheaper option.

  • Wood treatment and finishing

What kind of weather is your barn going to be in? Exposed to strong sunlight? Rain? Your barn door, especially if it’s made of wood, may need to be treated based on these things. Wood can expand or contract depending on the weather, and sometimes also needs extra treatment for pests like termites.

  • Durability/ Hardness

Some woods are considered harder than others, so you might want a harder wood if your barn door will be exposed to a lot of possible wear and tear from animals or equipment. Make sure take note though, harder woods may be more durable, but they’re usually more expensive and may not fit your budget. Softer woods are usually more common, cheaper, and easier to fit into your budget and with the right wood treatment, can last a long time.

barn wood door
  • Maintenance

Wood, no matter how durable, is still susceptible to weather exposure, especially if it’s an exterior barn door. Wood can warp and shrink if not treated and maintained properly. Always check your barn door for any patches that might look like they hold moisture or cracks that need repairing. Don’t wait, it’s always best for you to refinish parts of your door that need fixing as soon as you see the problem.

  • Purpose

What are you going to use the door for? This will dictate the dimensions of your door, which may mean that you might need a light-weight wood for a bigger door. Maybe weight doesn’t matter much and you need the wood to be extra sturdy for better security or resistance against wear and tear. Different wood types can be heavier, lighter, harder, more resistant to moisture, and other properties that you might want to consider based on what you’ll use the barn for. Livestock? Storing hay?

1. Pine

Pine Barn Door

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Pine wood comes in various colors and grains, depending on the species of tree it’s from and how the wood is cut. If you are going for a lighter brown wood color, pine is the way to go for you. If you choose a pine barn door, you can get a very smooth and glassy look that can look very clean sleek with the right finishing.

Pine doors usually cost less than most other wood types, however pine is also considered a softwood. This means that this type of wood can dent and scratch easily. However, if the wood is treated and maintained well, pine doors can typically last around 10-20 years. To keep your pine barn door well maintained- make sure to sand and refinish areas that look like they’ve absorbed moisture or if you see any dark streaks in the wood.

2. Knotty Alder

Knotty Alder Barn Door

Alder wood is also considered a softwood like pine. This means that it is easier to scratch and dent compared to hardwoods. There are different types of alder wood, but red alder is what is commonly used for woodworking. Alder wood can provide you with a very fine and straight grain, smooth texture, and a reddish brown to light honey color for your barn door. Because of its smooth texture, alder wood can be easily stained and painted to simulate other woods.

In Europe, alder wood was used for water management equipment for many years. From this, you can tell that this type of wood resists moisture well. This is a good trait to have for your barn door, which will likely be exposed to rain and other weather elements.

Knotty alder, like the name suggests, has many knots in the wood. These knots can give your barn door a very rustic and ranch-style appearance, which can be perfect for your barn. Just be careful when you’re cutting knotty alder wood, saws can jump a bit when coming in contact with knots. The cost of alder wood is somewhere in between the middle and high priced types of wood.

3. Poplar

Poplar Barn Door

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Poplar wood is one of the most commonly found hardwoods in North America. Because it’s common, the price of poplar wood is one of the cheapest for any type of hardwood. That’s good news for you and your budget. However, poplar is a little bit susceptible to insect attack, so make sure that it’s treated properly if you will use it for your barn door.

Poplar has a straight grain and uniform texture, which makes it easy to work. However, its medium density can leave some fuzzy edges when you cut the wood, so you’ll have to sand and properly finish the wood to give it a nice clean finish.

For a barn wood door, poplar can give you a light colored sapwood that sometimes has stripes. The heartwood has different colors ranging from green, frown, purple, black and blue. The variety of color sometimes poplar wood the name rainbow poplar. If you want a more unique and colorful material for your wood barn door, poplar can be a good choice.

4. Knotty Pine

Knotty Pine Barn Door

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As mentioned before, pine wood is a softwood, so it can get damaged more easily than other woods. Still, if you treat the wood properly before using it for your wood barn door, pine wood can last a very long time.

Knotty pine adds a little more unique style to a plain pine barn door. The knots can give you a more rustic feel and can definitely fit for a farmhouse look. As with any wood that has knots, be careful when you’re cutting it because saws can act unpredictably when coming into contact with knots. With the proper treatment and finishing, knotty pine can be perfect for your barn door.

5. Hardwood

Hardwood Barn Door

Hardwood can offer you the most important features for your wood barn door- longevity and durability. That means that they can last longer and survive a lot of wear and tear that can come with being used for a wood barn door. Hardwoods are also very easy to maintain and clean, a simple sand and varnish job can easily make your barn door look like new.

One of the downsides to choosing a hardwood for your solid wood barn door is the cost- hardwoods are generally much more expensive than softwoods. But one thing to ease your worries is that you get what you pay for when it comes to hardwoods.

Also, because hardwoods are denser, they are also less workable and a more difficult to shape. Some common hardwoods you can find are oak, beech, mahogany, walnut, and many more.

6. Oak

Oak Barn Door

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Oak is a very sturdy hardwood, making it very durable and resistant to wear and tear, a good trait to have for your barn door. You can choose from white oak, which comes in beige to brown colors, or red oak, which has pinkish and reddish hues. This wood is known to be resistant to insects and fungus as well, which is a good plus as a choice for your barn door.

Oak can be a bit pricey, but it can be well worth the investment because of its durability. It also has good resistance to water and is less likely to warp if it’s exposed to sunlight. Other disadvantages of this wood is that it’s a very heavy wood type. Barn doors tend to be larger, which means heavier doors. This means that when installing oak barn doors, you have to be sure to use high quality hinges that will be able to carry the weight of an oak door. Make sure that you use longer screws as well.

If you want to save a little on the cost and go for less heavy doors, you can opt for an oak veneer door instead of solid wood. However, keep in mind that you should still go for high quality oak veneer that isn’t too thin.

When it comes to maintaining oak doors, especially exterior doors, you’ll have to refinish oak barn doors every three years or so. With the right maintenance and care, these very sturdy and strong oak doors can last a lifetime.

7. White Cedar

White Cedar Barn Door

White cedar is a softwood that is very common in the northeastern part of the US. White cedar wood contains natural oils that help make it resistant to mold, moisture, insects, and changes in temperature, which can make this a very good choice for your barn door. Because of the natural oils in the wood, you won’t necessarily need to coat your door and you can leave the wood to age naturally. Because it is a very common type of wood, cedar is one of the best choices for a smaller budget. It’s also environmentally friendly because its resistant to rot and infestation, which means that it can last longer.

White cedar is light both in terms of color and weight. A light-weight wood like white cedar is good as your barn door will likely be large and you don’t want your door to be too heavy. White cedar is very easy to work with and it’s easy to place nails and screws. It’s also easy to cut and because the wood is a neutral color, ranging from white to tan and brown, it takes both paint and stains easily. White cedar is also known to have straight and consistent grain with small knots, which can add that rustic and ranch style look to your barn door.

8. Birch

Birch Barn Door

Birch wood is light colored and has a straight grain. Because it is a hardwood, it is also more resistant to wear and tear, which is a good characteristic for your barn door. Birch wood yellows the more it is exposed to sunlight, so keep that in mind for exterior barn doors. This type of wood may also tend to crack if it becomes very dry, so it might not be suitable for your barn door if your barn is in a very dry location.

Birch is actually one of the lowest cost hardwoods because it is very common in most parts of the world, so that’s good news for your budget. However, it is still a hardwood, which is more expensive than softwood. Also, birch wood is more suitable for indoor use because it is vulnerable to both fungi and insect infestations. So, if you plan to use birch wood for your exterior barn door, make sure to treat it properly.

9. Fir

Fir Barn Door

Because fir wood is common in most places and is readily available, it is relatively inexpensive, but still a bit more costly than most softwoods. Though it is a softwood, fir is known as one of the strongest and most durable types of softwoods out there. It’s also a type of wood that is fairly hard, medium weight, and has low shrinkage. Depending on the type of fir wood you want to get, the color can range from a light cream to a rich reddish brown.

Fir wood is workable, especially when it comes to using a machine. This means that you can easily cut and work curves into this wood. It also holds nails and screws very well. Fir wood is a good choice for your barn door as it resists moisture very well. It’s also highly resistant to rot and decay. Still, if you want your barn door to last longer, it’s a good idea to maintain it by checking if it needs to be refinished.


There are different types of wood for you to choose from for your barn door. What you need to remember is that each wood has different properties that will or won’t be suitable for your barn depending on the purpose of your barn, where your barn will be located, and what your budget is. With the many types you can choose from, you can definitely find a type of wood for your barn door that will fit your needs and your budget.

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