So I began to snoop around for some sort of alternative I could fabricate myself. And the biggest obstacle for the any DIY approach sliding doors turned out to be the wheels/rollers. I needed something study enough to take abuse, made for exterior use, would roll smoothly, and wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. While prowling around in my shop for something like that I happened to stumble on my son’s old skateboard. And the wheels looked like a perfect candidate for the job.
After a few minutes price shopping on-line, I ordered a set of 4 skateboard wheels and bearings from Newclue Inc. via Amazon. The total price of the wheels shipped to my door was $17.35.
Next I needed a rail for the wheels to glide on. I found the solution in the electrical department at Home Depot. It’s called Superstrut and a 10' length sells for $15. It’s a three sided channel of heavy gauge galvanized steel. Unfortunately it didn’t come in 12' lengths, which is what I could have best used, so I had to purchase two ten footers for $30. To provide a little additional strength I decided to top off the Superstrut with two 6 foot lengths of 1x1 angle iron at a cost of $26. I doubt this extra precaution was necessary and the rail could be built without it.
The hangers themselves are fairly simple. 1 ½" x 1/8" flat stock steel was bent into a U shape and then drilled to accommodate the axles for the wheels/rollers. I bought two 4' lengths of the flat stock from Orchard Supply for a total of $18. The other miscellaneous nuts and bolts I used came to $3.
My finished sliding barn door hardware cost a grand total of $95. Yes, it is quite a bit more than simple hinges and a hasp lock, but it is also well under the very cheapest commercial price of $246 for barn door sliders.
Here is how I fabricated the barn door skateboard rollers.