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Unfinished vs. Finished Barn Doors: What’s the difference and which is right for you?

by Renin
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Choosing between unfinished and prefinished barns doors comes down to one question: Do you want the manufacturer to do the work for you, or do you want to roll up your sleeves and do the work yourself?

Most prefinished barn door kits are constructed of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) with a durable décor wrap. When the manufacturer finishes the door for you, you can be confident that the result will look great and withstand the test of time. In a quality-controlled facility with state-of-the-art equipment, the finished surface is applied to industry standards for a consistent, scratch-resistant, easy-to-clean finish.

BD Easy Build G2 Langley Barn Door Beauty Image with EB logo
Langley Arrow Design Ready-to-Assemble Barn Door Kit
Close up of closed wooden door in the empty room with copy space
Iron Age Stone K-Design Barn Door Kit

Your choice of colors and finishes will depend on the door you select. Most products will be available in an array of complementary neutrals plus bold accent colors for those looking to make a statement.  Smooth or textured surfaces in solid or wood grain patterns are widely offered. Manufacturers also can provide specialty finishing treatments that are difficult to replicate at home, such as imparting the appearance of weathered, distressed, or aged wood.

Herringbone Double Barn Door's in a children's playroom.
Herringbone Chevron-Design Complete Barn Door Kit – Featured in Property Brothers
Stone K-Design Barn Door Kit in Off-White
Stone K-Design Barn Door Kit in Off-White

If you choose the DIY option, unfinished all-wood doors give you a blank canvas to express your creativity. You can choose different paint or stain colors for each surface to create a personalized work of art. Choosing an unfinished door also allows you an unlimited palette – from coral to cobalt – to precisely match the door with your room’s décor. There is also the option to maintain the natural, unfinished look by applying a clear stain that will maintain the look and shape of the door. If you’re ready for a change, you can sand and refinish your door for a fresh look. Look for our paint icon to find out which doors are paintable and/or stainable. 

Unfinished barn door horizontal plank design in a room with matching side table
Flair Horizontal Plank Design Unfinished Barn Door Kit
Z-Design Unfinished Closet Barn Door on a pantry in kitchen.
Salinas Z-Design Unfinished Barn Door Kit

When you do it yourself, the customization is up to your imagination. Unfortunately, the setup and clean-up are hard realities. Also, remember to check the warranty. There may be certain treatments that are not recommended and applying the finish yourself cannot be guaranteed by the door manufacturer.

Both unfinished and finished doors are available in a multitude of styles and designs. Complete door kits typically include door panels and hardware, or take DIY to the next level and design your own door from individual components.

The freedom of choice is yours.