In the world of barn door hardware, while fielding calls, we are relegated to the task of answering questions from the mundane, “What color does it come in?” the technical, “What is the chromium level in your stainless steel door pulls?” and everything in between. Far and away, the most common question we get is, “How do I install my barn door hardware?” or some aspect of installation such as, hangers, bottom guide, and so on. Well, we finally have a definitive, step-by-step answer in the form of an installation video. Check it out and see if you have any installation questions when you’re done watching.
We continue to get calls from upset customers who are confused about who they are buying from. A company called Rustica Hardware copied our “barndoorhardware.com” website by adding an “s” to door. This is a cheap and unimaginative attempt to capture a market we helped to create. We are finding the vast majority of people believe this is unfair and misleading to the consumer and refuse to deal with Rustica.
Consider the mechanism, the material, and the style when choosing sliding closet doors.
The simplest mechanism is the bypass sliding door. The doors are suspended from an overhead track. They are kept in place with a locator track on the bottom.
There are normally two tracks, next to each other. They allow half of the width of the sliding doors to be opened at any one time.
To provide a wider opening, three tracks can be used. Each section of three doors can be slid next to each other, so that two-thirds can be opened at any one time.
The alternative mechanism is the sliding folding door.
This consists of a number of vertical door panels, which are hinged to each other. Each is suspended at the top from an overhead track.
They can then be opened with pairs of doors folding into the room.
This type of mechanism is rather more complicated and has more possibility to fail. It has the advantage that the whole width can be opened up at the same time.
There are three main kinds of sliding doors:
- Sliding Closet Doors
- Internal Sliding Doors
- External Sliding Doors.
In all cases the sliding door may be made up of panels which slide next to or in front of each other. Those are called “bypass doors.” The sliding doors may have a folding construction. Each panel is hinged to the next, so that the door can fold up.
A Sliding Door may be used as an individual internal door or as a room divider.
A Sliding Door may also be used on the exterior of a building.
The most critical part of the sliding door hardware is the sliding door track.
This needs to be able to carry the required weight. The sliding door hardware track may be single, dual, or triple.
Special door hardware, including sliding door handles, is needed for sliding doors.
Sliding doors may be a sliding folding door.
The advantage of a sliding folding door is opening the whole side of a room to the outside.
Sliding doors are usually made of wood, but glass doors are also available.
This is the largest trade show in the world and I did not want to miss out.
It comes every two years to Munich, Germany and this year attendance was 250 thousand people including my wife and I. There were 2000 exhibitors from 43 countries and I was convinced that I would find a new and amazing product that we could sell on our website. After 5 days at the show with tired legs and sore feet I gave up. I found nothing new or amazing.
What I did come to realize is that there is nothing that compares to “German Quality”. We viewed many knock-offs from China and it is crap by comparison. I’m not sure why German stuff is so much better; but it is.
However, Munich is a very cool city with excellent transportation and very friendly people. So, on day 6 my wife and I went to the BMW museum. WOW! This should be part of any trip to Germany. BMW spent $600 million on the building alone. It truly has to be seen to be believed. And we don’t even own a BMW.
They actually have cars hand-painted by big time artists and a kinetic sculpture made of steel balls that turns into a BMW, set to music. A trip and a half. My wife is such a trooper to put up with me at these shows. I owe her… big.
With square footage at a premium most everybody is looking for ways to make a room larger. Most hotels have these curved shower curtain rods designed to add a few inches to your space in the shower. The hotel bathroom door swings into the bathroom just missing the toilet and shower curtain by an inch.
So how can you grow a room without increasing its size? Use a sliding door instead of a swing door. Some folks still call them barn doors.
When you think about it one standard 36” wide door takes up about 16 square feet just for clearance to swing it. So if you use the hotel example instead of saving inches, you’ve just saved several feet.
If you do that to enough swing doors you’ve just added a new room for the modest price of some barn door hardware. Sliding door hardware is cooler than ever and some folks even call it, “Jewelry for my doors.” I liked the idea so much I started Specialty Doors.
So go ahead… grow a little!
Back in the 50’s and 60’s Pella Corp. of Pella Iowa was manufacturing accordion doors of the highest quality. They used real wood faces, concealed hinges and heavy-duty hardware.
They also accomplished one very important feature: They saved the room or square footage used by a swinging door. A 3’ wide swing door takes up to 16 sq.ft.
Pella stopped producing this product many years ago because it was too expensive to make and the margins didn’t match the market place.
Today, retro is in and bigger than ever. Two great companies are now manufacturing accordion doors; Woodfold in the northwest and Panelfold in the southeast. These companies make custom sized folding doors that are extremely functional. Not only do they save floor space, but they also reduce heating and energy cost by a huge amount. In today’s economy we have seen folks taking on roommates by using accordion doors as room dividers.
The very latest is called the “Nuvo Designer Series” by Panelfold. This modern accordion series includes translucent, full lites or transparent lites with white “frosted” squares. One of the coolest features of the Nuvo Series is that it can allow light in while still providing visual privacy. Great for bathrooms!
So it’s true, old ideas resurface in time and become new again.
I lost my job
On June 6, 1996 my boss showed up at my job location. He told me I had one month until my division was shut down and I’d be let go.
I was in my 50’s.
When I called my girlfriend (now wife) she said, “That’s great – now you can start your own company.”
I had dozens of reasons why starting up a new company without capitol was a bad idea.
On the other hand, I had this cute, optimistic girlfriend that thought I could do anything. If she believed in me, I figured I’d better plow ahead and fake it if I had to.
With no money and a couple of friends, I started Specialty Doors & Automation in November of 1996 (it took 3 months to get a California contractor’s license).
It was a company that would repair or replace commercial doors. We rented an old, funky garage that leaked like a sieve when it rained and had no A/C or heat.
Our first job was to replace a bearing on a roll-up door. We were so excited when we got our first $250.00 job.
Then we realized that we didn’t even own a ladder.
The ladder was $300.00
Well, things got better over the years and after 12 years in business, I turned the company over to some key employees that helped us grow the business to $3 million in annual sales.
In 2004 we started an online division which is where I happily spend my time.
A friend of mine called it, “Selling shit you don’t have.”
Today, our company has 10 employees, 7 of which are sales and technical.
All of us share one common ingredient – we were all laid off, fired or replaced by companies outsourcing work to China.
We’re a bunch of losers that have all increased their previous income from 50 to 100%.
We have 4 websites and continue to “sell shit we don’t have” to the tune of $4-5 million a year.