Barn Door Installation

Barn Door Installation Started in April of 2019

I started this project before I left for Backwoods at Mulberry Mountain this year, and it’s still un-finished. I’d say it’s 95% there. The main reason it’s not finished is that I have to have the tile completed in the dining room before I can screw down the floor tracks that keep two of the 6 doors from swinging back and forth bumping the wall. I have indeed finished 4 of the 6, the ones that run down the hallway and cover Liam’s room and the laundry room.

This project was much bigger than I anticipated. In the end, the doors and hardware cost me around $14,000 by the time everything was shipped here, and of course as all prices outlined in this blog, not including my labor. They sure are beautiful though and worth every penny.

I started by designing a door that was going to look and feel like a quality door. That meant real wood, something a bit exotic, and thick/heavy/large construction. Additionally, I wanted to pay homage to our location and ensure there was a Caribbean feel to them. I settled on a slated door (like a Plantation Door) which not only shows well in the Caribbean, but also is functional for a home like ours which uses the natural Eastern Tradewinds as our form of air conditioning. The doors breath while providing privacy. Normally, a slatted door has a solid center piece that crosses it, around where a handle is usually installed – but since these are barn doors, I didn’t want the center panel as it wasn’t needed, and I thought the more simplified custom look would bode well on the wall. I’m trying to think of everything we do here as a statement or art piece when it comes to the larger pieces in the house.

Custom Barn Doors - Wormy Maple
Custom Barn Doors – Wormy Maple

In the end, I chose wormy maple which shows not only some nice zebra striping in the wood, but also the little holes which the worms have eaten through. I had them oversized built, and 1 3/4″ thick so they look beefy and hang heavy. I couldn’t believe how beautiful they were when they arrived. The guys who built them custom for us are at Sun Mountain Doors, and they did a great job!

Wormy Maple Detail
Wormy Maple Detail

A note on getting them here… along with other things I’ve shipped like Granite (in the next article) … pay the extra money ($400-$800 depending on the item) to have it crated well by a professional before it starts it’s long journey to the Caribbean.

Our Custom Doors Traveled the Distance of 3,723 Miles

Your product will be handled by multiple people on multiple trucks, sometimes on multiple boats, and a good crate is worth all the hassle to ensure the product arrives in perfect condition. The doors did just that, and I was impressed with the crating job. These were shipped from California, across the country to Miami, and then put on a boat to get to the island of St. Croix, and finally moved from the port to a truck that delivered it to my house. They have traveled many-a-miles to be here. 3,723 miles to be exact.

For the hardware, we went again, with something big, heavy, and statement like. We wanted a little bit of “stand the test of time” to the design, so we chose a hammered black powder-coated iron with stainless steel bearings. This will keep them from rusting and the sheer weight of these are looking mighty nice. Everything we do here, even indoors we try to get rated for outdoors, as it prevents against rust. (Because EVERYTHING RUSTS on an island.) – Here’s a link to the barn door hardware we purchased.

Barn Door Hardware
Barn Door Hardware

The next challenge was deciding how to hang the thousand pounds of wood and iron on the wall without it crashing down in a safe manner. I decided on what’s called a header board for the track installation, which created a multi-step process to hang them. Step 1 was creating the header board and installing it, and Step 2 was then installing the track rails to the header board. After that, we could hang the doors and make all the adjustments to the soft-close mechanisms we also purchased.

Step 1 – Creating the Header Board

I needed two header boards for this since two separate walls were to house the barn doors. One was approximately 12′ in length, while the other was 26′ long. I started with three 16′ long 1″x6″ boards. After cutting the length to size, I routered the edges to give a more designed and polished look to the boards.

A Fine Routered Edge I Cut for a Classy Touch
A Fine Routered Edge I Cut for a Classy Touch

I then used a total of 96 concrete anchors and screws to install the boards on the wall. Each with a rated weight capacity of 45lbs. That’s right… 96 times (32 per set of doors) I had to use a hammer drill into the concrete wall, only after properly measuring and drilling pilot holes in the boards themselves so that all the anchors would line up with the screws in the boards. (That means putting up and taking the board down once or twice after installing just the end screws.)

After getting the boards on the wall, which took a few hours, and a painful right arm when finished, I caulked all the edges for a seamless look. I also took the time to sink the screws a bit when installing the board, so that I could cover over the screw heads with spackle to hide them before painting the header. (Good luck to the next guy who tries to take these off the wall!)

Routered Edges for a Polished Look
Routered Edges for a Polished Look
Header Board Installed, with Spackle to Hide Screws
Header Board Installed, with Spackle to Hide Screws
Header Board Installed, with Spackle to Hide Screws
Header Board Installed, with Spackle to Hide Screws

The finished header boards looked great.

Step 2 – Installing the Track to the Header Board

Getting the track onto the header board was the next step, and to do so it meant installing 5 half-inch lag bolts into the wall and header board for each track/door – a total of 30. That’s right, more hammer drilling! But for a 1/2″ lag bolt, you’ve got to drill pilot holes first… so double the workload again for another 60 drills!

1/2" Lag Bolts are No Joke
1/2″ Lag Bolts are No Joke
Installing the Track
Installing the Track

The tricky part about this is that you must install the tracks as you go to ensure they are level. Since we are splicing tracks (meaning two doors will meet in the middle to create a set for a larger opening) both tracks that connect also have to be level with each other. You only get one shot at drilling these holes level… if it’s off ever-so-slightly you will get a gap where the doors meet that is uneven (the top of the doors touch while the bottom has a gap for example.) You can’t re-drill your holes because they would only be off by a fraction of an inch, yet the holes themselves are 1/2″ around. I think you get the importance here.

Splicing the Two Tracks Together
Splicing the Two Tracks Together

Step 3 – Preparing the Doors

Routering the Floor Track Channel
Routering the Floor Track Channel

Taking the heavy doors outside for a bit of prep work, I drilled holes (very scary considering how much each door cost) for the wheel hardware in the tops of them and also routered a 1/2″ x 1″ deep channel through the bottom of them so that the floor track would be hidden. Some people choose to put this on the front and back of the door – but we wanted to continue with the clean look by hiding the track inside and under the door so it wasn’t seen. It’s extra work to cut the channel in the door, but worth it… Here’s an image showing the difference.

We went with T-Guide that Doesn’t Show on the Outside of the Door
Routering the Channel in the Bottom of the Door

Step 4 – Hanging the Doors

Hanging the doors required simply lifting them onto the tracks. I realized though that I did this preemptively at times getting excited. I needed to have the T-Guides down on the floor first to slide them over top of into the channel, and the soft close catch holes and end-stops drilled installed on the top of the doors before hanging them.

The first time I hung them I didn’t have the top soft close catches installed or drilled, and the second time I didn’t have the track channel routered, So I’ve taken them on and off a couple of times now. I’m not sure I would have done it differently though because each time I hung them, I learned something new and also made sure I was moving in the right direction. With doors these expensive you want to measure not twice, but 5 times, and cut once.

Step 5 – Adjustments to Soft Closes and Floor Track Installations

The soft close mechanisms (12 in total, two for each door) allows the door to catch itself and slow down before coming to a stop on each end of the slide/track. This means no pinched fingers, and we can stop the doors exactly where we want them. Check out the video below. These again were an expensive upgrade, but well worth it for these extremely heavy doors that would probably just fly off the tracks without them.

Soft Close Example

Door Gaps… I spoke of them earlier and of course I had a bit of this going on with such a large installation and long run of track. As much as I tried I was still a little off at times on the leveling where the splicing of the tracks met. I was able to counter act it though by slightly adjusting the hardware wheels attached to the tops of the doors after installing them the first time however, having to redrill a couple holes larger, to raise or lower the wheel on the door – effectively leveling it by way of changing the door angle ever so slightly with one side up or down. This worked, and they ended up looking great. Of course, I had to take the doors off again to do this, so we’re talking like 4 times I’ve re-hung these things. (The third was a channel that wasn’t deep enough for the T track on the floor and needed to be re-routered.)

I installed the handles as well which matched the hardware above, on both sides of the doors with the exception of the laundry closet – which hopefully no one finds themselves in our washing machine trying to get out.

Laundry Doors - Our Bedroom Door Looks Weak Now
Laundry Doors – Our Bedroom Door Looks Cheap Now in Comparison

In the end, we absolutely love the doors and it was well worth the few weeks of work to get them built and hung. They are surely a statement piece in the house. Unfortunately for my budget and I, they make our bedroom and bathroom doors look weak and cheap… We will definitely be upgrading these in the future to finished custom wormy maple doors as well from Sun Mountain after our kitchen is done.

The Finished Product In Liam's Room
The Finished Product In Liam’s Room

Now, enjoy this video of a baby deer running through our driveway!

Installing New Doors at Windchime Estates

The following took place in March of 2019

Dave’s last trip down a few months ago was a tough one on us. We literally were cutting through 10” of poured concrete with a 17” concrete saw. It was not easy work. Dave is a machine. It’s no wonder why he is probably reconsidering another trip down. I may have over-extended my ask of him last time. None the less we plowed through and got a few french doors installed in The View. I owe Dave a huge favor.

Dave with the Concrete Saw
Dave with the Concrete Saw
Here I am Wielding the Beast

I’ve got another set to do, but we had some glass break on one and it took them 4 months to repair it, so it’s still waiting to be installed. I plan to get to it next week. There is one more window to be replaced in there as well, which I will also tackle. Then some plastering and finishing. It all has to be done quickly, as we have our first AirBnB guests since KC moved out arriving mid August in the View.

Installed, Just Needs Finish Work

The doors we put in were also made by Airmaster. I referenced in my windows post the issues we’ve been having with the handles on the East side of the house. They are showing rust already. This is the ocean view side where the wind whips in from and rain constantly batters agains the house. The other handles on other doors are not showing the light rusting yet, but they don’t get beat nearly as much by the rains from the Eastern Tradewinds. I will let you know how the Brasso works out when we get to polishing them.

A Little Plaster and Paint Needed Inside

The doors turned out nice. Large viewing windows at the top really set off The View, and the jalousie bottom halves allow the breeze to blow through the house. They are the perfect mix I think and exactly what was needed. These doors have been put in rather than windows on the East side of the house because the plan is to have them open to the pool patio once it is complete. At that point The View will be the best spot in the house for a guest. A one bedroom apartment poolside with a view. It doesn’t get any better.

My brother also came and visited, and we replaced the back door upstairs to our back patio. He got a taste of a bit of the concrete home construction Dave and I were doing. 🙂 I’m not sure he enjoyed it. But it turned out great!

Chris Doing Some Demo

Replacing New Windows in a Concrete House

The below took place from January 2019 to July of 2019

The below activities took place over the last 7 months, but I’ve coupled it into one article from “receiving” to “replacing” a couple of our windows, the majority of which we have not done yet. I’ve got a long way to go in regards to replacing the windows in the house. The biggest pain in the rear will be doing those on the second floor. My neighbor said he has some scaffolding, so I will most likely borrow that when I get upstairs. This will not be the last article on windows I’m sure…

Window Delivery!
Window Delivery!

When they arrived, Sebastian helped me pull them off the truck. I forgot just how many there were. 47 windows and doors all together. 47! That’s a crap ton of work to be done. So far it’s been 7 months since they first arrived and we haven’t replaced them all. They have been just sitting on the back porch, covered from the elements. We have installed some doors – which I’ll mention in the next update.

Sebastian and I Moved all the Windows and Doors to the Back of the House One by One
So Many Windows and Doors
So Many Heavy Windows… the Doors Not Showing Here Either

The last few months I’ve been so busy, and before that my friend Dave ran into a medical issue (and I was sort of waiting on his help again to start on the windows.) I’ve decided to move forward though as I need to get this done now. I’ve done two so far downstairs in The View.

The windows we purchased are from Airmaster out of Puerto Rico. We didn’t have many options when it came to jalousie type windows for homes without AC. Since Florida changed their energy codes, not many companies are making them anymore. (They used to be popular in Florida.)

Rust on Stainless Steel Hardware
Rust on Stainless Steel Hardware

I have to admit I’m a little disappointed with Airmaster’s quality control. While the windows themselves seem to be made out of quality materials (heavy, durable aluminum with thick glass and hurricane glass on the door panes) I have had a few issues already… A couple pieces of the glass have not been properly inserted into their window rail/holder which I’ve had to re-glue with clear caulking, the “stainless” handles on the doors are already showing rust to which they told me I need to regularly polish with rubbing compound to keep looking nice, one of the handles was missing and not even cutout into the door itself, none of the adjoining screws for the windows were included so Home Depot gave me $120 in free hardware when I complained, and they’ve shorted me a window crank already and I’m only on window #4. I know Airmaster is busy as hell from the hurricanes still, but they really need to get it together and make sure they’re sending out a quality product. I spent 10’s of thousands of dollars on these and to have this many issues, well – you understand, I’m sure, how I feel at times. Luckily though in the end, all of these things are fixable, and they don’t affect the end quality of the product after its installed properly, so life goes on.

Removing Old Window Frame
Removing Old Window Frame

Tearing out the old windows I noticed they were only in with four 1″ screws… and some plaster of course. I could not believe they’ve held in this house so long with the storms that have come through. My plan is to use 4.5″ concrete Tapcons. On the first two sets of windows I installed, I used 8 of them in each. Six on the sides, one top and one bottom. These aren’t going anywhere in a storm, even if the glass breaks.

We do need to work on getting hurricane shutters for the house. I want the roll down electric kind, which of course are the most expensive. It’s going to be a while before we get them. Half the house already has the accordion shutters and we have some metal shutter panels for other windows on the house. There will be some that are completely exposed that I have to worry about first (and those will be the ones who get the first sets of roll downs.) I did a quote on a couple sections of the house and it seems that its going to cost another $35-40k or so by the time we’re done with the entire thing (materials only if I install), which is almost double the cost of the windows themselves, mind you.

One thing I learned is that jalousie windows, only come in certain heights depending upon the size of the jalousie window you buy. For example, 3″ heigh panes come in heights divisible by 3″, 4″ heights by 4, and so on. We had selected 6″ heights for the most viewable window space to show off the view, so of course my height had to be increased or decreased by a factor of 6. This means I will have to do a lot of “filling” and building up of the window sills before installing each window. Some are 1″ shorter than the space, some windows 4″ shorter than the space. This is a huge pain in the rear as it must be level and exact, although I think the end product will be worth it with more viewable window and less bars across. It’s also better than having to cut concrete everywhere. At least they can make them any width, exact, and there isn’t much to do on the sides of the rough opening. Let’s just hope my measurements were right.

Building Up the Window to Fit
Building Up the Window Opening to Fit with a Form I Made and Concrete
Just Needs Plastering!
Just Needs Plastering!
Plaster and Paint Needed, Cranks Not Yet Installed, View from Inside
Plaster and Paint Needed, Cranks Not Yet Installed, View from Inside

I’ll for sure have another article on installing windows in the future as we do more. The next article will show you what it took to get the doors in. (Thank God for my friend Dave.) I only have one set of doors left to do, which I plan on tackling in about a week from this writing.

You may have noticed I’ve also not put the total spend above recently… Since I’m playing “catch up” on these articles right now, I’m not sure exactly where we were in the spending, or the number of days at the time of the projects I’m writing about. I figured if I catch up completely in about a week and a half – I’ll then post exactly where we are today again with the budget. It’s not pretty… but our granite selection for the kitchen sure is. 🙂

The Sunrises have been beautiful lately. Here’s another I captured at our place.

Sunrise at Windchime Estates Facing Buck Island
Sunrise at Windchime Estates Facing Buck Island

Building a Closet and Bricking Up an Exterior Doorway

I know, it’s been a while. I’m still playing catchup on this blog writing stuff. Liam has taken up so much of what used to be “free time” I find less time to write anymore. Just getting further behind! Not to mention the last couple of months we were away to run Backwoods at Mulberry Mountain for the year – but I digress. Have patience with me, I will eventually report back on it all…

The Below Took Place in February and March, 2019

In our master bedroom there was a space between two closets, which looked like it was used for an old TV set placement. The issue was that it was only about 36 inches across, and well most TVs now-a-days are much larger than that. The awkward space seemed to collect junk, so I went ahead and built a third closet in our bedroom and tried to match the doors as best as possible. In the end, it turned out great, now hiding all of my scuba gear instead of having it out in the open.

Closet Before Painting to Match
Closet Shelves Built, Frame Added, and Door Installed
Closet Before Painting to Match
Center Closet Before Painting to Match

We mounted the TV above the closets more towards our ceiling as well, which is great when you’re laying in bed. No neck strain! I also cut out the top panel that was above this area to create an indirect light that served a dual purpose of lighting the closet so I can see my scuba gear, and lighting the room when you first walk into the bedroom. I used a piece of plexiglass on the front, and as the closet ceiling, and used a high grit sand paper (and sander) to give it a frosted look. It turned out great and provides a soft light!

Finished Closet After Wiring TV Through Wall
Finished Closet After Wiring TV Through Wall and Adding Frosted Light in Top Shelf

I’ve also gone ahead and blocked up an exterior door way that lead to our back patio which is no longer needed now that we’ve torn down kitchen walls and created an open floor plan. The doorway was redundant as we have another just 155″ away on the same wall. We’ll be using this space for kitchen cabinets now in the new kitchen layout.

Doing Some Demo

I’ve never bricked up a wall before, so this was not only a learning process but my first attempt on an important aspect of the house. I had to get it level so you wouldn’t notice it, which I think I did a great job at in the end.

It turned out lovely. I’ve learned a lot about plastering lately which will be needed for all the window replacements. I’m not horrible at it, but I will tell you I’m not a fan of the work itself.

The Finished Product, Plastered and Painted. I Can’t Believe There Was a Door There!
Check out this Sunrise Photo Taken at Our House. I Still Can’t Get Over Our View!