Before you start researching how to build barn doors, you need to determine which type of door you need. Here, we lay out three types of barn doors and which is best for your building.

Are you looking to construct a farm workshop or implement a storage shed? Or are you building your dream horse barn? Keep in mind that the type of door you need to install differs depending on what type of pole barn building you have and how you intend to use it.

There are three common types of pole barn doors — sliding, overhead and hydraulic. Here, we break down these three types of barn doors to help you make the right decision.

If you’re on a budget, choose a sliding door.

Sliding doors are a great bargain if you do not plan to move your equipment in and out of your building on a daily basis, or if you don’t mind manually opening and closing the door.

Each time you enter or leave your building for an extended period of time, you’ll have to unlatch and slide the door open, and then slide and latch it closed again.

This takes takes time and effort, but the good news is that if you do it often enough, it does build arm muscle!

Sliding doors are the most cost-effective type of door

The facts:

  • Your sliding door will typically be either one piece and slide in one direction, or split in the middle. If you choose a split slider, the two door halves slide away from each other.
  • These doors can either be mounted on the outside or the inside of your building. Mounting them on the inside can be helpful in northern climates, as you won’t have to shovel away snow blocking the door, or worry about ice in the track.
  • Your sliding door will typically come with steel framing, or steel and aluminum framing.
  • They’re the most cost-effective type of door. With improvements in tracks and trolleys and the usage of lighter materials, sliding doors are much easier to open and close than back in the day. (Remember mom and dad’s barn?)

They’re great for:

  • Homeowners with a storage shed stuffed with seasonal items — a boat and jet skis, for instance — that aren’t used every day.
  • Farmers who don’t need access to their implements, trucks, combines and tractors regularly.
  • Horse barns. Because sliding doors are not as noisy when opening and closing other types of doors, you’re less likely to spook your horses.

If you are using your door as an entrance every day, and have more than money on your mind, an overhead garage door with electric opener (details below) may be a great investment for you.

If you’re looking for convenience, consider purchasing an overhead door.

An overhead door is a typical garage door that opens upward. Although it’s more expensive than a sliding door, it’s relatively cost-effective for a door you’ll be using regularly.

Overhead doors are the most convenient door

The facts:

  • A overhead door can be opened manually, but most people purchase a garage door opener to open it electronically with the push of a button.
  • You can purchase a wide overhead door — up to 40 feet. This is great for accommodating large equipment, like a tractor or combine.
  • People usually dress up their overhead doors — especially if it’s for their home garage or storefront — with window panels, or by painting it to look like wood. There’s a lot of flexibility with style and finishes.

They’re great for:

  • Homeowners storing their everyday cars and bicycles in a pole shed or garage.
  • Farmers storing frequently used tractor equipment.
  • Shop owners expecting deliveries multiple times per week.
  • Municipal and commercial buildings and workshops.

If you’re looking for something really big and heavy-duty, go for a hydraulic door.

Hydraulic doors are big, wide, heavy-duty doors that swing open. They were originally used for airplane hangars, but are now commonly used for agricultural and commercial buildings, too.

Hydraulic doors are the most heavy-duty type of door

The facts:

  • You can purchase a solid, single-piece hydraulic door, or a two-piece hydraulic door (called a bi-fold door).
  • Hydraulic doors are large and heavy-duty, and are fairly expensive.
  • A single piece hydraulic door will swing straight out if it’s hinged at the top. Some swing partially inside the building. It has two hydraulic rams that push it up. Provided it is designed strong enough, this creates a shaded rain cover. People often pull their equipment underneath for an extra working space with relief from sun or rain.
  • People will often place lights on the inside of the door, so when it is up, it’s like having lights on a ceiling.

They’re great for:

  • Agricultural buildings, as hydraulic doors are made for hauling big pieces of equipment in and out of buildings.
  • Commercial buildings.
  • Not common for suburban or equestrian buildings, as there’s no need for that big of a door.

If you have further questions, communicate with your builder to find your best option. It’s important to strike a balance between cost-effectiveness, quality and convenience — especially for a door you could be using on a daily basis.

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