How to Build a Z Bar Door

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The backward Z keeps the top of the door from sagging.
The backward Z keeps the top of the door from sagging. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The simple board and batten door guards suburban sheds and rural chicken coops. Also called a ledger or Z-bar door, it may be a rustic collection of boards and clinched nails or a finely built tongue and grooved face backed with battens set into the back with a router. The Z-bar board and batten door consists of upright boards which make the front of the door, horizontal battens across the back of the door and the diagonal braces, which form the backward “Z.”

Things You'll Need

  • Lapped or beadboard, 1-by-4 or 1-by-6 inch boards
  • 1-by-4 inch battens and braces
  • 4 woodworker's or C-clamps
  • 60 or more 1 3/4-inch galvanized wood screws
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Circular or jig saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Varnish
  • Paint or other finish

Assemble bead board or lapped 1-by-4 or 1-by-6 inch boards to fill the width of your door. Cut boards a few inches longer than the door -- you can trim and sand the door edges after assembly. Lay the boards out on the floor.

Lay a 1-by-4 across the top and bottom of the door and mark them to cut so that the battens will be 4 inches shorter than the door is wide. This allows 2 inches of ease on both sides so that the door can be trimmed and clearance for a door jamb, if present.

Clamp a batten to each side of the door 4 inches from the top of the door and another 4 inches from the bottom. Attach the battens with 1 3/4-inch galvanized screws, using two screws per door board.

Lay a 1-by-4 across the battens to make the “Z” brace. The top of the “Z” should face outward on the latch side and the bottom turn should be closest to the hinge side of the door.

Mark the ends of the brace on either side where the battens intersect, draw a line between the marks and cut the angled ends of the brace. Attach the brace with two galvanized screws for each door board.

Trim your door to size with a circular saw to fit the doorway. Seal the ends of the boards and battens with varnish before painting and hanging the door.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sand or shave the corners along the tops of the battens and brace, making sloped surfaces for rain to drain easily. This is especially important if you plan to mount your door with the “Z” on the exterior.
  • Varnish or seal the ends, insides and concealed parts of the boards, battens and braces before assembling your door to protect the wood against moisture.
  • Other more decorative attachment systems for battens and braces include 2-inch carriage bolts and clinched nails -- wrought iron nails driven through and beaten over on the opposite side.
  • Always wear eye protection and exercise care when using power tools

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