I have always wanted a Dutch door. Ever since I was a little kid, I imagined living in a home with one! They add so much character to a space and are both functional and beautiful!
But it never truly occurred to me that I could build one or make one. I figured that especially with an exterior door, it would just be too tough. And not to mention to buy your own Dutch door would cost you up into the thousands. Not something I had the budget for (or something I was willing to spend in general).
But then I got to thinking I could work a little smarter here. That I didn’t need to build something from scratch. I just needed to find a door that was unfinished and inexpensive.
And once I found one, the wheels got to turning!
HOW TO MAKE YOUR VERY OWN DUTCH DOOR IN 7 SIMPLE STEPS
First things first, as always, measure and gather your materials! There are different sizes of standard doors, so measure the height and width of the door you will be replacing. Then look for a standard door that fits those measurements.
STEP 1: MEASURE & GATHER YOUR MATERIALS
Here’s what I used…
- Unfinished Exterior Door
- 1 1×4 Pine Board
- Door Handle & Lock
- Door Latch
- Weather Stripping
- Bulls Eye Primer
- Plastic Wood
- Exterior Paint (of your choice). I used Early Riser by Magnolia.
And here are the tools you need…
- HART Tools Circular Saw
- HART Tools Drill
- HART Tools Miter Saw
- HART Tools Jigsaw
- Foam Paint Rollers
- Wooster Paint Brushes
- Finish Nailer
- Hinge Template
- Door Knob Template
- C Clamps
Once you have your measurements, design plan, and materials, it’s time to get to work!
STEP 2: CUT DOWN YOUR DOOR
This was the most intimidating step of the whole process! We bought a full, standard door, remember? But Dutch doors are in halves. So what did I need to do? I needed to cut my whole door in half!
But here’s where a little math and some planning come in handy.
My door was 80″ tall. Which was a little too tall for my door frame of 79.25″. I also planned on adding a ledge on the top of the bottom half of the door by using a 1×4 select pine board (actually 3/4″ thick).
So I not only needed to cut my door in half, I needed to cut a 1.5″ section out of the center (to account for the 3/4″ thick board and the extra 3/4″ of height. Make sense?
I also wanted to make sure I could line up my door latch and deadbolt with the pre-existing spaces in the door frame. So I measured just how hight the handle and deadbolt would need to go on the doors and marked those places before I cut as to not cut through the center of one of those.
Once I had all those marks and measurements (I drew lines across the whole door to show where I needed to cut), I clamped my door to a work table and clamped a board to the door to be my guide board for my circular saw.
Then I revved up the saw and made my cuts, making sure to move slowly, utilize my guide board, and stay on track!
It went beautifully!
I lightly sanded down the edges, removed my 1.5″ sliver, and moved on the the next step – adding a ledge!
STEP 3: ADD YOUR LEDGE
Traditional Dutch and stable doors have a small ledge on the bottom half. That way, when it’s opened, it looks nice and finished, and you can lean out over it easily.
I grabbed a 1×4 select pine board and cut it down to the width of my door. Then I lined it up so it was centered and used my finish nailer to secure it into the bottom half of the door!
I used plastic wood to fill the nail holes and caulked where the ledge met the door on all sides to allow for a seamless connection.
Easy! But adds character and makes an impact.
Next, go fit your door into your door frame to see if you need to notch out your ledge on one side at all. For mine, I needed to take two 1″x1″ squares out of each side to allow for the door to close properly in the frame! For this, I simply made marks and used my jigsaw to cut them out.
STEP 4: PREP FOR YOUR HARDWARE
Now that your door is in two pieces, and your ledge is on, measure again exactly where your hardware will need to go!
You need 4 total hinges for Dutch doors – two on each piece! You also will need a handle and ideally a deadbolt (so you can secure both the top and bottom halves of the door. Especially if it’s an exterior door!
Use a hinge template and your router to route out space for your hinges to sit. First, make sure you know which direction your hinges will sit! And simply use your hinges to set up the template correctly before you grab that router. Instructions are your friend with these templates!
Once you have space prepped for your 4 hinges, grab the door knob template, triple check your placement to make sure you’re coring out space where it’s needed, then use the hole saw and spade bits that come with the kit to core out your space for your door handle and deadbolt!
And I say triple check that placement, because if you accidentally put a huge hole in the wrong spot on your door, well, that would be tough to recover from!
Next, using your hinge template and router, make sure you route out space on your door frame for your new hinges to sit! Again, measure twice, then use the instructions to show you exactly how to do this step according to your hinge size!
STEP 5: PRIME & PAINT
Before you put your hardware on, it’s time to prime and paint your door! Since this door is raw wood, you must prime it to seal it before you paint! It will help the door hold up well over time.
Also, if this is an exterior door, make sure you use exterior paint! Again, you don’t want to do all this work only to have your paint bubble or chip a few months from now!
Get two coats on the door on both sides, using a brush to get into the panels and around the edges and a foam roller to smooth out the brush strokes.
Once it’s dry, move on to the next step.
STEP 6: INSTALL YOUR HARDWARE
Now it’s time to install your door handle, deadbolt, and hinges!
Simply install each according to the instructions they came with. For the hinges, double check that you’re installing them the right way first (depending on if your door opens inward or outward), then PRO TIP: grab some longer screws to secure them into place.
This will help hold your door tightly into place to ensure it fits properly.
STEP 7: INSTALL YOUR DOOR
Now, grab that door, and get it installed! Line up where your hinges go, grab longer screws again, and secure those hinges into place!
If your door doesn’t fit properly, see if you can adjust the hinges first. If that doesn’t work, simple sand down the sides of the door a little bit until they fit correctly! Adjust hardware as needed. There is typically some troubleshooting involved when it comes to installing doors, at least in my experience!
Once it’s installed, grab your Dutch door latch and figure out where you want to place it. Drill pilot holes if needed for the latch hardware, and use a large drill bit to drill a hole through your ledge so you latch can extend through to the bottom half of the door.
Secure the hardware into place using screws (again, I suggest grabbing longer screws for more security).
Then lastly, grab your weather stripping. Cut it down to the width of your door and add to the bottom of both the top half and bottom half of the doors to protect it from the elements. My door frame already had weather stripping installed, but if yours does not, make sure you add it to the frame as well.
Then step back and admire your beautiful Dutch door that you were able to create without the price tag or headache of buying a new one or building one from scratch!
What do you think? Would you ever give this a try?
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