Rick BissonFlip through the pages of a favorite home design magazine or website and sliding, barn-style doors are likely a recurring feature. Whether the home’s design is contemporary, rustic or eclectic, the look and feel of barn doors, also known as sliding doors, matched with their space-saving advantages, have captured the imagination of homeowners.

A study by a real estate website found that sliding doors can help a home sell as many as 57 days faster and at a higher price point. The study analyzed listing descriptions of more than 2 million homes sold between January 2014 and March 2016 to see how certain keywords affect a home’s sale.

Of all the terms analyzed in the study, “barn doors” brought the highest premium, with homes whose listings mentioned this door type selling for an average of 13 percent above expected values.
Looked at from a spatial and financial standpoint, a traditional door’s swing space can use up to 9 square feet – a pair of French doors can take up even more. While that may not sound like a lot, when designing or redesigning a home or room, every inch counts, especially considering the average home has 10 doors which occupy 90 square feet of the home’s valuable interior space. If the cost to construct a home is $200 per square foot, the “door space” cost is $18,000.

In contrast, installing a door on a sliding track requires only a few inches of floor space. However, the application of a sliding door may not work in every area. For example, a room must have enough wall space adjacent to the doorway to slide the door over.

To help determine if a sliding door is right for a particular room, consider the following.

First and foremost, determine whether adding a sliding door will compromise the structure and integrity of the supporting walls in any way. While modern homes are built with sufficient framing, older homes, additions and arched doorways should be double-checked. An architect, builder or structural engineer is the best resource to make this determination.

Consider the function of the door and the room’s privacy and sound requirements. Because a sliding door hangs over the opening on an exterior track, the door covers the opening, however, it does not seal it the way a typical swinging door would. There will likely be a small gap between the door, adjacent wall, and the door and floor. Keep these gaps in mind when pondering a sliding door.

Discuss the room’s security needs. Because of the way they are installed, sliding doors are not meant to be locking. While this may be ideal for families with small children, it can be a cause for concern if the sliding door is meant to be used for a bedroom or guest bathroom. There are, however, options for adding a lock — such as the hook and eye closure.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, consider the aesthetics of the sliding door. A weathered barn door provides a warm rustic feel while an etched glass slider gives a fresh modern touch.
Perhaps as important as the material of the actual sliding door is the hardware that accompanies it. A door that is meant to be actively opened and closed should have a substantial enough pull that the door can be easily moved. Choose hardware that matches the sliding door and use scale and placement to complete the style.

Whether it’s the way they help save space, their attractive hardware or their ability to separate spaces, there’s little question that sliding doors are becoming a popular choice in today’s home designs.

If you or someone is considering sliding doors in a new or existing project, be sure to consult with your architect, builder or structural engineer. For an idea of how the project’s outcome will impact your home’s resale value contact your trusted Realtor.

This column is produced by Rick Bisson and his family, who own Bisson Real Estate with Keller Williams Realty of Midcoast and Sugarloaf.