I’m obsessed with the look of sliding doors. So, when we expanded the closet in Dexter’s room during the One Room Challenge, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to build the DIY modern sliding doors I’d been dreaming of! So many projects of mine start with scrolling or drawing out a design. I loved the idea of the doors being mirror images of one another. (See more projects like this on Instagram.)
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- (2) .5″ Plywood 8′ x 4′
- (22) MDF Boards 1″ x 4″ x 7″
- (6) Select Pine Boards 1″ x 2″ x 8″
- Liquid Nails with Caulking Gun
- Finishing Nails (For these doors 18 gauge 1″)
- Placeholder Blocks (Pine 1×2 scraps, about 6)
- Plastic Wood
- Sandpaper (220-grit)
- Flood Floetrol (To thin paint)
- Mineral Spirits
- Sliding Rail Kit
- Chop Saw (for frame & mdf front angles)
- Circular Saw or Table Saw (to cut plywood)
- Pneumatic Nailer/Brad Nailer
- Paint Sprayer
- Paint Brush
- Mini Roller
Step 1: Measure the Opening
Start by measuring the opening of the door frame. In general, you’ll want your completed doors to have two inch overlap on each side. If you’re building one door, that means you’ll measure the opening and add two inches on each side. If you’re building two doors, you will still do that–you want the doors to overlap the walls on each side by 2 inches + overlap each other in the middle by 2 inches.
One door to cover a 24 inch opening: 24 inch opening is a door that spans 24 inches + 2 + 2 = 28 inches wide
Two doors to cover a 40 inch opening: Split in half, that’s 20 inches per door to cover + 2 + 2 on each side. You’ll need to make each of your doors 24 inches wide.
For the height of the door, you’ll need to refer to your rail kit specifications. They might be different whether you’re doing a system that attaches to the back vs one that hangs from the top. In general, you need to know how tall the opening is so you can overlap at the top with the necessary amount.
Step 2: Cut the Plywood to Size
If your doors need to be 24 inches wide, consider the frame into that measurement. I used 1″ x 2″ pine boards for the frame. Add the .75″ width to both sides, and that gives you 1.5″. That means your plywood width should be cut at 22.5″. (22.5 + 1.5 = 24)
For the height, I added 4″ to the size of the door frame, since the rail kit I used would hang the door from the top. Don’t forget to add your frame measurements into the equation when you cut your plywood. It will be another 1.5″ additional height.
Step 3: Build & Attach the Frame
Building a frame out of 1×2 pine boards offers a clean look for any project. I cut my pieces at a 45º angle to match up in the corners. Keep in mind that you should cut the angles slightly longer than you need. You can always cut the pieces down to size them perfectly. Once the cuts were done for a custom fit to the plywood, you’ll want to add a bead line of liquid nails to the edges before nailing. The plywood can rest on the floor, with the pine boards flush at the floor level. They will extend up above the plywood, ready to frame in the mdf boards for the design.
Step 4: Make Your First Cuts “The Center Point”
To make mirror images of your doors, you’ll want to designate the “center point,” and build off of that. For me, this was a piece that went from the top corner and crossed over to the middle on the other side. I matched and measured these boards for both doors so they would align perfectly to one another.
As long as those first angles line up, the rest of the measuring is standardized, so it should be pretty simple to have the whole thing line up. I used 45º cuts–being careful to cut slightly longer than I needed so I wouldn’t cut it short.
Step 5: Set Up a Stop
For my doors, once that first angle was in place, I needed 5 more of those on each side. They were opposite each other, so I had to keep that in mind as I cut. But, the best thing you can do if you’re cutting boards of the same length is to set up a “stop block” of some kind. This is a brace you put in place for your saw with the measurements pre-determined.
Step 6: Have Placeholder Blocks on Hand
Placeholder blocks are those pieces of scrap wood you’ll use to put in place before gluing and nailing to ensure the spacing is even. For this project, I had about 6 of them that I used, depending on the section. I would put my new cut piece in place, with placeholders in two spots to keep the correct distance from the previous cut piece. Then, I would add placeholder blocks and add the next cut piece.
Once I had 2-3 new cut pieces in place, I would add glue and nail them. You can remove the blocks once the pieces have been attached to use for the next few pieces.
Step 7: Build Your Pattern in Sections
You’ll want to build each small section at the same time, before moving on to another area of the doors. It’s easier to make correct cuts and measurements when you’re working in the same section all at once.
Step 8: Fill Nail Holes & Gaps
After you’ve attached all of your boards, you’ll want to fill the nail holes with Plastic Wood. This is a lengthy job, but you’ll be so glad you took the time to do this!
Step 9: Prepare to Paint
Filling nail holes means you’ll have a bit of sanding to do. But, it will go fast! Sand everything down with 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned everything by using the shop-vac for all the dust, and then I wiped the doors down with Mineral Spirits.
Step 10: Spray Paint
I sprayed the doors with my paint sprayer for the first coat of coverage. I did the backside first. Then, I used my “door painting hack” to keep going with my progress. With the door dry, but maybe a bit tacky, you’ll be able to turn it, paint the front side, while the back continues to dry without getting smudged.
Get two small pieces of scrap wood/mdf. Using a small finishing nail, nail the scrap wood piece on each of the two top corners of the backside of the door.
You can see that I didn’t nail them too tight–these will be removed after the rest of the door dries, and all you’ll have left is a little tiny nail hole. Works like a charm. Now I was ready to paint the front.
They turned out pretty nice. After they were dry, I went in with a paint brush and spot painted any areas that needed it, since the grooves can be a challenge, and there’s a chance you’ll miss a spot or two. For the final coat of the flat pattern, I used a small roller to just roll a top coat–I really like the way doors come out with a rolled final finish.
Hanging Your New DIY Modern Sliding Doors
Depending on the brand you buy, it can be somewhat tricky once you get to this step of the process. I highly recommend checking for installation videos the company might have on YouTube, or even bloggers and DIYers. Chances are, you’ll be able to find your brand and follow along. I say this because with all the hardware, it can be confusing. The rail kit we used included everything, and once we got a system in place, it just took time to install all the hardware.
Hubs & I did this project together in one afternoon. The other recommendation is to attach a board above the doors so you can install the board to the studs in the wall, and then install the rail kit to that board. We did not do that because we had just replaced the opening of this closet, and the entire length across the top of the closet is a huge header board, under the drywall.
This is right after we installed them–can you see the pencil marks? Lots of leveled markings to get these doors hung properly!