Bleached Wood Barn Doors

Bleached Wood Barn Doors

The last 6 weeks have been serious work.  Last week was our final reveal of the One Room Challenge, where I had chosen to work on my laundry room.  We sure did work on it, gutted it was more like it.  If you havn’t seen the reveal, you can check it out here.   Now its time to focus on some of the yummy goodness that is in and around that room.  Today I am featuring how I created bleached wood barn doors for my laundry room entry.

I love the look of bleached wood. Who knew the technique could be so simple. Love the finish on this barn door.

I wanted barn doors.  So does everyone else these days.  My husband likes to roll his eyes whenever I mention barn doors, and I like to imagine his eye rolls are really a look of excitement and pleasure, and not irritation.  But, like I am with just about everything else, I wanted something different.

I have always wanted to use the bleached wood method on something in my home and I knew that this was my chance to really make these barn doors shine.

 I scoured the internet for ideas, and frankly, I came up short.  I just couldn’t find what I was looking for.  That was until I found a single pin on Pinterest that had this amazing wood buffet with a really beautiful finish.  That was the finish I wanted.  



Kristyn over at Rust and Ruffles Home had a great tutorial on how to achieve this affect.  I was absolutely smitten with the raw look of the wood.  Now if only I could find exactly this!!  Well, we all know life does not work that way.

This wood was such a beautiful color and had so much rustic raw goodness.  Now I needed to find the door.  I have to admit, I really did not want the typical X or Z style barn door that is typical these days.  

I was on a search and one day, while I was at my favorite antique/salvage yards, the sweet old lady that owned the place mentioned a few old doors shes had in one of her storage containers.  I just knew, you know?  Like when you have found your soulmate, or the perfect doughnut.  You just know.  You do.
barn doors

I love these doors, I even loved the finish, but it was entirely too dark for the space I wanted them to be in.  I was torn!  I really hesitated to do anything with them  for fear of ruining them.  For a split second I thought of painting them, but then the light came, and I knew that was wrong, wrong, all wrong.  These doors were in a state of disrepair, and needed some love no matter what I did with them.

bleached wood barn doors3

So, I took a leap of faith.  I decided to try sanding the doors down to see what was hidden underneath.  Boy was I happy with what I found.  I ended up sanding all the flat surfaces with a belt sander with 60 grit sandpaper.  If you have access to a belt sander, this is the way to go.  

Here is what I used to complete this project:

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience*

Not to say that this was easy.  This was the most time consuming part of the project  I sanded….and I sanded…..and I sanded.  Now, those beautiful recessed panels, they were a different story.   I ended up using a paint stripper to strip the stain and varnish out of those tiny crevices.  I used a scotchbrite pad to get the varnish out of the tiny cracks.  I wont lie, it was a lot of work.  But, I knew that these doors were hiding that beautiful finish that I wanted.

My thoughts on stripping?  I hate it.  I hate every little part of it.  Its sticky and messy and impossible to get it all clean, but it is a necessary evil, right?  In the end, after all the swearing and time spent sanding, I had 2 beautiful raw wood doors.  I know there are other stripping products that people recommend, but in my tiny little town, I have to take what I can get, and they did not have the good stuff, and I couldn’t wait to have any delivered.

Once the doors were done being sanded and stripped, I gave them a good cleaning with some mild soapy water.  Once that was done, it was time…….

Here is where things got interesting.  I was a little nervous, but I did it.  I took undiluted bleach, and with a rag, I rubbed the bleach into the wood.  I let it sit and dry.  And guess what happened?  The wood lightened, and it gained this amazing patina that I cant imagine how else I would have achieved it.  Some of the bleach settled into the corners and created almost a glaze type appearance.  In my opinion. really beautiful.

I love the look of bleached wood. Who knew the technique could be so simple. Love the finish on this barn door.

Bam.  Isn’t that gorgeous?  At this point, I thought about adding a grey wash to the doors, but I loved the raw beauty too much.  It was left as is.  A simple clear coat is all it needed.  I couldn’t believe how beautiful that wood was.  As  I was finishing up the bleaching, I was thinking about those amazing souls that built these doors almost 100 years ago.  This was the same wood they touched.  It still held the original hardware that was used by so many hands.  The history of simple and daily objects fascinates me.  These are the things they used day in and day out.  How could we not appreciate them?

The barn door hardware was fairly easy to install and the price was pretty good as well.  But it was really easy for me, you see my hubs installed them while I was taking a nap on Mother’s Day.  So pretty easy!

I love the look of bleached wood. Who knew the technique could be so simple. Love the finish on this barn door.

These doors were so cool.  Here is that original hardware I was speaking of.  The wear and patina on this could not be more perfect.

I love the look of bleached wood. Who knew the technique could be so simple. Love the finish on this barn door.

I hung these in my mudroom, where I had taken a leap of faith and painted the wall a vintage green chalkboard.  The raw wood looks pretty great with the vintage green chalkboard.  I love it.

I love the look of bleached wood. Who knew the technique could be so simple. Love the finish on this barn door.


I love the look of bleached wood. Who knew the technique could be so simple. Love the finish on this barn door.

Barn doors can be anything you want.  No one says you have to fit into the cookie cutter mold.  Find something that calls to you, something that is just right for your style.  The barn door hardware from Lowes is a really great economical choice as well.    I am so very pleased with how these doors turned out.  The bleached affect is an amazing way to transform wood without compromising the beauty of the wood.  This beauty was not created, it was already there, under layers of varnish and stain.  I would do the project a million times over to achieve these results.

Thanks for taking some time out of your day to see what was happening at Twelve On Main.  Have a great day and remember….

be inspired


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  1. Hey Sara, those are some darn fine looking doors! I wouldn’t change a thing about them.

    I’m in a sorta similar dilemma, I like the raw / light colored wood, but I’m dealing with thick cedar wall paneling that’s pretty darn dark. And during my pinterest search I found a single sample of a lime wash technique to lighten up the color. Not quite sure if I have the guts to do it as ‘most’ examples are on cement or stucco, but heck, you only live once …..

    Did you happen to see this method in your search??

    1. Thanks you Laurie! You know, I have seen some other methods like the lime wash. They seemed more involved than I had time for but I think it is definitely worth pursuing! You can always try it in a small area to test before you decide to commit. You only live once! That is my philosophy! My other philosophy is, Its only paint! Have a great day!

  2. Your doors are the best I’ve seen yet!!!! Love, love, love them. You did such a nice job. What did you use for the clear coat?

  3. Your doors are gorgeous, Sara! They look amazing and the best part is they are unique. Love the color they have and I would have never imagined bleaching them to achieve it. I may try it for a project I’m doing now.

    Thanks for sharing with us at Two Uses Tuesday, have a wonderful weeken!

  4. Your barn doors are what dreams are made of! They are gorgeous! I have nowhere in my Victorian home to put them but I love the look. I have the next best thing…..3 sets of Victorian pocket doors!

  5. These are so beautiful as is your entire blog! I agree with AnnMarie-they are truly what dreams are made of!
    Thank you for sharing these beauties with us at TOHOT!

    1. Thank you Marie, The chalkboard wall was a bit nerve wracking for me, since I tend to shy away from that much color, but I love the vintage look!

  6. Sara, your barn doors are amazing, and I want to find some just like yours. I have chosen them for my feature tomorrow on Totally Terrific Tuesday. I can’t wait to see your next project!

  7. Beautifully done Tara. I had also seen the buffet that you used for inspiration and love it. Great tutorial. I’m going to pin and share this idea. I thank you for giving us lots of Sweet Inspiration.

  8. Hi Tara – the barn doors are gorgeous…i’m drooling!! LOL! I had pinned the same tutorial from R&R to bleach my pine harvest table but the site is down 🙁 Thankfully you included the steps – just a quick question – did you have to neutralize the bleaching afterwards? I’ve read conflicting things about it – and you used straight Clorox, you didn’t dilute it? Did you leave the doors inside or outside while they were bleaching? I think I might give it a go this weekend!! Thanks for such a great post!

    1. Hi there! Yes, I used straight bleach. I did it outside and let them stay out until they had dried and the smell was gone. Overnight was plenty. I didn’t have to neutralize the bleach, however, I am not sure about using it on a table.

  9. Hi Sara,
    This is such a functional and beautiful look!
    My husband and I would love to attempt a doorway like this for our pantry.
    How wide are the doors? Is the doorway smaller than the doors are wide when they are closed?

    Thank you so much, I love your website and design ideas!

    1. Hey Claire, thanks for stopping by. The doors are about 2 inches larger than the door opening, so when they are closed, the whole door is concealed. Off the top of my head I believe they are 33 or 36 inch wide doors. It was quite difficult to find doors to fit because I was looking for something so specific.

      1. Hi Sara, Thank you so much for responding! This is very helpful! So excited to try this idea out. 🙂

  10. I’ve got an old dry sink commode that I’m using for my boys’ bathroom in our new house, and I’m going to try bleaching it to see if I can get this result!

  11. Hi there! Found you via Pinterest. I’ve always enjoyed reading your projects and this is another one that turned out so beautifully!
    just wanted to tell you not to be afraid of stripping anymore. The sanding you did on these gorgeous doors turned out well, but could easily have been a disaster with such a heavy grit and veneers!

    If you haven’t already tried Citristrip, I STRONGLY recommend it. In my pajamas, in front of the TV, in my living room, I’ve stripped antique doors like yours down to raw wood with 2 applications. One for the paint layers, and another to suck the stain right out of the wood. The hardest part of the whole thing is leaving the Citristrip alone to work. It’s so COOL! It neutralizes with water and I’ve not required sanding on any of my pieces. I have taken a 220 and smoothed down the raised grain, but sanding? Scraping until you die? Flesh eating chemicals? Not any more.

    I’ve also used bleach on wood as fickle as cherry and as easy as maple. What I have found, though, is that stubborn water stains require something a little tougher. I’ve used oxcylic acid with water, applied with a toothbrush. It neutralizes with vinegar.

    Anyway, your doors are gorgeous — as are mine! LOL! 15 pocket doors from these gorgeous antiques. I’ve linked to my page about my Citristrip journey, but my end pics stink, so it’s hard to see. I’m not a pro blogger, having just created these pages so my long-distant sisters can see my projects, but I thought you might enjoy watching the new century’s stripping methods. I also hope you’re enjoying your beautiful doors!

      1. Here I am, back again. Just looking around.
        I just finished another set of doors. French, this time. Citristrip did the trick once again. Stripped them down in less than 3 hours. I always have plans to stain or paint, but like you, I just get mesmerized by the beauty of this raw wood.
        I thought I’d share another trick with you to protect the wood, invisibly! Pick up some paint BASE, that’s used for black to navy colors. It goes on white, which panicked me. It dries, however, so absolutely invisible and matte you don’t know it’s there. I choose Exterior, flat, latex, dark (BM’s is a 4 or 5) paint base. Exterior gives it all the UV and water protection. I just can’t put something shiny on my beautiful doors!
        Keep up the good work. I really enjoy your style.

        1. Wow! I have never heard of this! Thank you so much for the amazing tip! I will definitely try it out! Have a great day!

  12. Your door is absolutely gorgeous! I have a project that I have been working on for over a month to try to achieve this look and I’m getting very frustrated! I have an oak dining table that I sanded down to the raw wood and bleached it and it has a beautiful grain and is a very gorgeous color much like your door. I neutralized the bleach with a vinegar wash but that took off the graying that the bleach left (that I loved)! Everything I read said that it needed to be neutralized or you risk the bleach reactIng with the finish. I read that you did not use anything to neutralize so I think I may put on another coat of bleach to get back that beautiful color that I wanted. Did you sand at all after your final bleaching? Also, I need to put a topcoat on to protect the table. What brand and exact poly acrylic clearcoat did you use? I have tried many and when I put them on the Raw whitened wood it brings back the yellow/Amber/orangey color that I hate! ( the color the wood would be if it was wet) Did you notice any darkening or yellow or amber color in your door after you put on the topcoat? Also, do you know what kind of wood your doors are made? Thank you so much for any help!

  13. Hi there! I just stumbled upon your post and love the doors! I have stripped a ton of furniture and agree, it is messy and tedious work. I recently stripped an old maple desk and wanted to get that natural finish like you wanted. I stripped I and sanded it down to raw wood, and then rubbed in Annie Sloane’s dark wax. OMG. It looks amazing. The Annie Sloane people had never seen that done before – usually it is rubbed on over their chalk paint but I applied to raw wood. I wish I could ad a photo here! I want to try bleach on my next project though!

  14. These turned out great. I thought you meant that the original doors were barn doors. I love that you were able to reuse these doors. I have huge, original, real barn doors that may or may not be used when we redo the barn and they have that original red milk paint type finish. My house isn’t big enough to use them and I would hate to cut them down but now I’m wondering how to use them somewhere. Great job. You have way more patience than me.

    1. What an amazing find with those original doors! I hope you are able to incorporate them in some way!

  15. HI, Sara!

    What do you think about Renaissance Chalk Paint? I’ve read about it in this article. Would it be good for my wooden doors or there are better options?

    Thanks. Appreciate!

  16. Can you tell me what kind of wood the barn doors are? I have an old Douglas fir door that I’m working with. I got discouraged after stripping the finish but wondered if I gave up too soon. I’ve been preparing it for paint. Now wondering if I can achieve this look!

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