Why are the Dutch doors back?

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Dutch doors – charming double-openings horizontally – evoke endearing visions of quaint country cottages, thatched roofs, and fresh pancakes cooling in the summer breeze. While the design is nearly 400 years old, its appeal is timeless, so if you’re considering Dutch doors for your home, follow along to learn a little about them, where they work best, and what the installation entails.

What is a dutch door?

These split doors originated in the farmland of Holland, and found their way into Dutch settlements in the early American colonies. They are known by any number of names, including fixed doors, double doors, split doors, and half doors. The charming design allows the upper half of the door to be opened while the lower half remains closed. Dutch doors are available in single and double styles.

single dutch doors

The single Dutch door is divided into two halves horizontally so that the top and bottom can be used independently. The latch holds the two halves of the Dutch door together, allowing the door to be opened and closed as a single unit when needed.

Single Dutch doors can be used in place of traditional single doors both for the interior and exterior of your home. Dutch doors come in several different styles, including:

  • traditional Wooden doors with a solid bottom and windows at the top
  • contemporary Designs with simple lines and often bolder colors to complement a more modern home style
  • country house Designs that mimic the look of barn doors

double dutch doors

Installing a double dutch exterior door can create an entryway with a serious visual impact. With these side-by-side Dutch doors, you have the option of opening both the upper sections or just one of them while keeping the lower sections closed. As with the single Dutch door, you can install the upper and lower sections together so that they act as typical one-piece doors.

Double Dutch doors are available in standard door sizes, and if you’re willing to pay more, they can be custom-made to fit non-standard openings.

Just like single split doors, double Dutch doors come in traditional, contemporary, and farmhouse styles. Double Dutch doors are usually more popular as front exterior doors due to their space requirements. For this reason, an interior double dutch door is more likely to be found in a larger or custom-built home that has the potential to accommodate its spacious size.

History of the Dutch doors

Dutch farm doors first appeared in Holland in the 17th century, and at that time, their purpose was purely functional. With the bottom and top half operated separately, the bottom can be left closed to prevent rodents and farm animals from roaming the house, and the top can be opened to let in light and fresh air. The bottom door features a small shelf along the top to help anchor the separate door frame while providing a place for baked goods to cool.

Dutch immigrants brought the Dutch barn door design to America, and it quickly fell into the favour of early colonists and rural dwellers. The charming half-door remained commonplace until the late 19th century when the screen door was invented. As the trend for the exterior Dutch door waned, interior versions, which were often used to separate kitchens and dining rooms, became more popular. You can still buy rustic Dutch doors today, both interior and exterior, although the options are limited.

Related: Solved! How do I find my home history?

Advantages and disadvantages of Dutch doors

The recent popularity of the modern farmhouse style has brought Dutch doors back into fashion. You’ll now see it in home entrances and kitchen doors, in outbuildings like gardening sheds, and indoors too. As charming as they are, Dutch doors also have some functional considerations.

Advantages of Dutch doors

  • A rustic Dutch door creates a strong rustic country look and feel, serving as a focal point in country-style kitchens and adding the finishing touch to cottage entryways.
  • If you have young children or pets, keeping the bottom half of the door closed will ensure that the little ones stay safely inside while you enjoy views of the outside world.
  • Likewise, an interior Dutch door can double as a baby gate, letting infants crawl safely into their nurseries—or out of home offices and laundry rooms.
Dutch doors

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Disadvantages of Dutch doors

  • If you live in an area with a lot of insects, an open door to nature is an invitation to a buggy home. Installing a retractable screen (shown below) can help.
  • Dutch doors are more expensive than regular doors, and they also require more hardware, such as hinges, knobs, and locks. Also, a weatherproof seal between the two halves is necessary. In general, expect to pay $300 to $500 more for a Dutch door than you would for a similar steel door from the same manufacturer. Custom made Dutch doors from major manufacturers are more expensive (over $3,000) because they are designed and built to fit a specific opening.
  • For best weatherproof results, dutch doors should be professionally installed. Although the doors are pre-hung in jambs, the door frame during installation may require filling, and it is necessary to align both halves perfectly to seal the elements. A professional install can add $300 to $450 or more.

Safety considerations

A split door offers an attractive aesthetic appearance, but there are some safety precautions to consider before investing in one. Although many Dutch door designs are safe, there are special considerations you should keep in mind with Dutch doors:

  • Splitting in half adds more weaknesses to the door. When Dutch exterior door frames twist with the changing seasons, gaps can appear around the perimeter of the door.
  • A separate door requires more hardware than a solid door, and all those hinges, knobs, and latches need more maintenance in order for the door to continue to function properly. Homeowners should also ensure that they always use all latches and locks to keep their home secure.
  • The door handle and lock are usually located in the lower half of the door, so for greater security, it is better to install the lock in the upper half.
  • There is a double chance of fingers pinching when opening and closing split doors, and this is a real concern for families with young children who are able to open and close the doors. To reduce the possibility of pinched fingers, children need to be taught how to open doors in a slow and controlled manner.

Related: Buying an old house? Be prepared to live with these 12 quirks

dutch door fittings

A Dutch door requires a door handle, strong lock, door latch, and hinges. These are all standard door hardware, but given the farmhouse vibe of the Dutch door, you may want to spend more on premium styles that go with the door’s charm.

  • While standard doors use three hinges, Dutch doors use four (two for each half of the door). As long as you are using hinges that are rated according to the weight of the door, it is perfectly fine to use standard hinges for a dutch door. For a more rustic look, choose sturdy colonial-style belt hinges.
  • The door handle and lock were installed on the lower half of the Dutch door. Split doors usually use a regular doorknob assembly.
  • The strong lock should be installed in the upper half of the separate door for added security. Standard door bolts work well, provided they are installed correctly.
  • You can use a typical sliding bolt to connect the top and bottom halves of a separate door, but a Dutch four-door latch is made for this specific purpose (and will set you back a bit more). Deltana and Baldwin manufacture quad latches that can be purchased online.
Dutch doors

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Dutch exterior door details

While some of today’s top door manufacturers, such as Andersen and Marvin, don’t sell pre-made dutch doors to the public, they do offer custom door manufacturing services so you can get a dutch door built to your specifications. Popular Jeld-Wen currently sells Dutch doors through home improvement centers such as The Home Depot.

  • When purchasing an exterior dutch door, you can choose two solid halves that match or select a unit with glass panels in the upper door to let in light while the door is closed.
  • It is a good idea to install a flexible screen inside the door frame, such as the Flux Phenom magnetic screen door. With the top door open, you can use the screen to keep pests and debris out while still enjoying the fresh air. Some manufacturers may offer doors with retractable screens.

Related: 15 Old House Features We’ve Been Wrong To Leave

Dutch doors

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Dutch interior door details

Interior Dutch doors can be delightful additions to a home, but you may have to do some spying to find the perfect door for your needs. Not all home improvement centers sell European-style interior doors, so consider checking out smaller door makers, such as Simpson Door Company.

  • Unlike installing an exterior dutch door, which must be weatherproof, putting in an interior dutch door is a fairly DIY-friendly project. If you can hang a standard interior door, you can hang an interior Dutch door.
  • If you can’t find the Dutch door of your dreams, consider making your own! With basic carpentry skills, you can turn an ordinary interior door into a Dutch door. The relatively simple process involves cutting the door in half, moving the handle to the bottom half, adding additional hinges to the top half, and then installing a latch to hold the doors together when closed.

last thoughts

Dutch doors are great for adding character and added function to your home’s entryways. This traditional design had more practical use when it was first used in the 17th century, when screen doors and air conditioning had not yet been invented. These days, Dutch doors are often chosen for their beauty, but they still work great as gates for kids or pets, and allow fresh air into the home.

When installed correctly and with the right hardware, a Dutch door is safe and secure, even when used as an exterior door. Unless you are well versed in door installation, it is a good idea to let professionals install your Dutch door to ensure weatherproof results.

Questions and answers about Dutch doors

To add to your home’s appeal or give it a simple update, a Dutch door can make a real impact. These beautiful split doors are seeing some resurgence nowadays, especially in country houses or cottages. But before deciding on a Dutch door, check out these FAQs to learn more about this door style and how it is used today.

Q: Can you convert a normal door into a dutch door?

Turning a traditional door into a Dutch door is a project you can complete over the weekend. Using basic carpentry skills, cut the existing door horizontally, move the door handle to the bottom half, add hinges so there are at least two on top and two on the bottom, and install latch to hold the door together when needed.

Q: Are Dutch doors expensive?

Dutch doors are much more expensive than regular doors. Not only is the door itself more expensive, but split doors also require more hardware than regular doors because there are more moving parts. In addition, when Dutch doors are used as exterior doors, the gap between the upper and lower sections requires a weatherproofing. A prefab Dutch door will cost $300 to $500 more than a similar steel door from the same manufacturer, and a custom Dutch door can cost up to $3,000.

Q: Is it easy to break into Dutch doors?

Dutch doors that are poorly maintained or lightly secured may have more weaknesses than standard one-piece doors, and this can make them vulnerable to break-ins. The external separate door shall be secured with a fixed lock on the upper half and a locking latch and door handle locked in the lower half.

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