For several years now, I've been in charge of designing
and building our annual shed. The photo here gives you a sneak preview of the
shed that will appear in our July/Aug. '12 issue.
One of the details that always demands my attention is the
number and type of doors to include. Several of the sheds I've designed have two
doors—a regular entry door and a large door for riding lawn mowers and other
big stuff. Entry doors are easy. I usually just buy a prehung exterior door like
you'd install in a garage or house. Big doors are a little more challenging. After
experimenting with various methods, I've settled on sliding doors as the best
Sliding doors have several advantages over hinged doors for
wide openings. First, there's practically no limit to the size of the door you
can use. And since the doors hang from the top rather than from one edge like a
hinged door, they don't have to be quite as strong. Plus, they don't require as
much room to open as hinged doors. I had a pair of hinged doors on a shed at my
last house, and in the winter I had to keep a large area in front of the shed
free of snow and ice buildup or the doors wouldn't open. This isn't a problem
with sliding doors.
The key to sliding doors is using the right hardware. I
think the heavy-duty bypass door hardware from Johnson Hardware (johnsonhardware.com)
is the perfect solution. The system consists of heavy-duty three-wheel
ball-bearing hangers (Part No. 1025) that can support doors up to 150 lbs. and
an aluminum track Part No. 111). An 8-ft. track and a pair of hangers for a
4-ft. door cost about $40. For the bypass hardware to work on a shed, you have
to have a strong place to anchor the top track.
I accomplish this by ripping a 2x4 down to between 2-1/2 and 3 in.
(depending on how thick the door is) and attaching it to the shed wall with lag
screws. Then I screw the aluminum track to the 2x support. The last step is to
mount the hanger plates to the top of door. You'll find all of these details in
the upcoming shed story.
Sliding doors offer a good alternative to hinged doors, but
they do have a few drawbacks. First, they're harder to lock. I haven't found an
elegant solution for locking a sliding door and usually end up using a hasp and
padlock or a lockable gate latch if there's a pair of doors. The other problem
with sliding doors is that they're trickier to seal. If you're worried about
bugs or small creatures getting into the shed, consider hinged doors instead.
But if you want a door that's easy to build and install, easy to operate and
doesn't take up much space, then it's hard to beat sliding doors.
— Jeff Gorton, Associate Editor
Here's a shed project from our magazine with hinged doors.
Build this economical shed with plans from our magazine.