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What is a Dutch Door?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A Dutch door is a door which consists of two panels divided in half horizontally, allowing the top and bottom of the door to be closed independently. Classically, the bottom panel is left closed, while the top is left open to permit the circulation of light and air. This door design is also sometimes referred to as a stable, barn, or half door, depending on the region of the world, and it is very common in rural design and homes which are meant to have a rustic look and feel.

Supposedly, this design emerged in the Netherlands in the 1600s. People wanted to be able to leave their doors open to get fresh air and see who was around, but animals would enter the house when the door was open, making a mess and spoiling food. The Dutch door created a barrier in the form of the bottom half of the door which the animals could not cross, while allowing the upper part of the door to stay open, satisfying the needs of the household.

Dutch door designs are commonly used in kitchens and in outbuildings like stables and workshops. They can also be used indoors to create barriers without blocking rooms off from each other. For example, parents might use a Dutch door in a home office to keep toddlers out while still keeping an eye on the household, or pet owners could use a Dutch door to keep animals out of the kitchen without cutting themselves off from guests.

Most Dutch doors include a latch known as a quadrant which allows the doors to be locked together so that they can move as a single unit. The design can include a variety of styles along with features such as windows in the upper or bottom part of the door, and the door may be executed in solid wood, hollow core, and materials like metal or plastic to meet various needs and personal tastes.

Hanging a Dutch door has to be done with special care, as there are two units which can fall out of plumb and create an undesirable look or make it hard to shut the door fully. Extra hinges are usually required to keep both halves secure, and security measures such as locks can be somewhat more complicated with a Dutch door because of the separate halves. Most prefabricated doors include meticulous hanging instructions, and a contractor can provide additional advice or hang the door for a small fee.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By kylee07drg — On Sep 21, 2011

My friend has a house that is designed to look like a barn. She has Dutch doors on all the entrances, and they are made of wood treated to look old.

She has had travelers stop and ask to view her house before. She even had an interior decorating magazine come out to do a piece on her house once. They raved about the rustic Dutch doors.

The only downside of these doors is that it takes longer to get in and out of the house. One time, a storm popped up suddenly, and I was running toward her house. She had the top half of the door open, and she was rushing to shut it.

She saw me coming, but she had to shut the top half and latch it a certain way before she could open the whole door. By the time I got inside, I was soaked.

By Perdido — On Sep 21, 2011

I live in an area with a pleasantly mild climate, so I decided it would be great to get an exterior Dutch door. I have a large backyard with a lake view, so I had it installed on the back door.

The top half of the door has windows. I open this half to let in the breeze, but even when it’s closed, it lets in light.

I rarely have to use air conditioning, because the summers here don’t get that hot. I just open my Dutch door and let the cool air blowing off the lake into my house.

By StarJo — On Sep 20, 2011

@orangey03 - Aren’t Dutch doors wonderful? I have a small child as well, and since I work from home, I needed a way to protect her while I concentrated on my job.

I found a beautiful Dutch door online, and I paid the fee to have it installed properly. It didn’t cost much, and it saved me the grief of trying to figure it out myself.

I had it installed on my office door in my home so that I could trap my child in here with me. I work in the corner on the computer at my desk. Part of the room serves as a play area. I have plenty of toys in here to keep my daughter entertained while I work, and there is nothing in here that could harm her.

By orangey03 — On Sep 20, 2011

I had Dutch doors installed on all the interior rooms of my house after I had a baby. I knew that she would be trying to roam around once she got old enough to walk, and I didn’t want her getting into anything that could hurt her.

Try though we might, mothers simply cannot watch their toddler’s every move. It only takes a few seconds for a kid to touch a hot stove, drink a cleaning product, or fall down the stairs. Dutch doors help prevent all of these.

She was frustrated by the doors at first. I remember being in the kitchen cooking and hearing her emit a high-pitched scream because she couldn’t get to me from the den. She was too short to climb the half door, but she could hear me in there working.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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