The Dutch Door has been around since the 17th century. And through the centuries, its iconic design has been found in homes across the globe. But, this door has a special relationship with the earliest American colonies where it was almost a necessity of colonial home design.
This unique piece of architecture became popular in the American colonies of New York and New Jersey, which were originally settled by the Dutch before the English took over. This area still exhibits a strong Dutch influence in its colonial architecture.
The Dutch Door may have been invented in Holland, but its popularity in America was unrivaled. The door solved a very big problem in colonial life. Prior to 1887 when Hannah Harger invented the screen door, there was not a good way to allow fresh air into the kitchen and keep the critters out.
At this time, America was largely a rural population and most people lived on farms. Barbed wire had yet to be invented either, and so many farms had various animals milling about the immediate outside of the house. The dutch door not only allowed fresh air in, but also kept these animals out of the house (along with pests like mice) and kept the children safely within the home. The Dutch Door also allowed for the owner to accept deliveries and have conversations with visitors without permitting access to the house.
Dutch Doors are essentially made up of two independently moving doors (one on top of the other). They require 4 hinges unlike the typical 3 hinges on most doors. The bottom portion contains the doorknob and lock, and the top portion contains a latch to attach the two portions together. When latched together, a Dutch Door will perform the same as a traditional door. Often, they are found with a “perch” on top of the bottom portion, which is similar to a window sill. Some Dutch Doors had windows on top while others did not.
Finding an original Dutch Door today is a real treat because they were made in a time when home building was not yet standardized. The sizes and materials you’re likely to encounter will usually be unique to that particular region, giving each door its own individual story.
The Dutch Door is a rare find these days and is a period appropriate addition to most houses built before the 1880s. It harkens back to a different era when people would have a friendly chat with passersby from an open door or set a pie to cool on the top perch of their Dutch Door. And it’s another trend that, like the sleeping porch, is poised for a revival in today’s home.
Do you have/want a Dutch Door on your home? Comment below and share your story!
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20 thoughts on “The Dutch Door: A Breath of Fresh Air”
We make Custom solid wood Dutch Doors in California and have a retractable
screen that comes down from the top jamb to the shelf below. This item is very popular with our customers who don’t like mosquitoes and other flying creatures.
In our 8 years of selling this product – not one complaint or replacement
Would you like a picture of this screen to share? OCDutchDoors.com
I am considering making one of our doors into a Dutch Door. We have a 1910 house two stories. In the master bedroom, on the second floor, we have an exterior door that leads over the roof of our porch. The porch is not sound enough to handle weight(it will be awhile if we ever get around to it to behonest so many other projects). If I made that into a dutch door to allow air flow in the fall and spring would I be ruining my door/house? I know it is a personal prefrence in the end but the integrety of the house is always on my mind when we choose to do something.
Yes, I have seen many Dutch Doors. They were especially built in the small towns in Holland, so people could say a quick “hello” to each other and get the latest news without having to take off their wooden shoes, if they were invited in.
We had a rattlesnake coming in our from door last summer because we always leave the door open during beautiful days, so we cut our solid wood door in half, added extra hinges and a decorative piece on the lower door on the outside. Done deal. No more snakes are coming in our house.
oh my goodness, Crystal! That’s crazy! I work for The Craftsman Blog but I am located in Arizona, so I totally understand the rattle snake life. That’s so horrifying!
-Alyssa at The Craftsman Blog
They were also commonly found in the Dutch cultural areas of New York and New Jersey before the American Revolution.
We lived in a small house in Southern California and the door off the kitchen had a Dutch door. Which was especially odd because it was the door to the bathroom. We still fondly refer to our house with the Mr. Ed bathroom.
I’ve been searching the Internet for the most insulated Dutch door that can handle severe weather. I live on a remote island in the upper Peninsula of Michigan with bitterly cold winters. Where can I find a entry Dutch door built for my location?
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My Dutch door needs repair and refinish. What kind of pro in Philadelphia area should I look for. The glass shop won’t do it. Not sure what tradesman to look for.
Check out the directory on my site to find a window restored near you. They almost all handle doors too.
BTW, I’m not sure how old it is, but I’m thinking it’s solid oak – very heavy.
I found an old Dutch Door with 8 panes of glass on the top half, in an old barn that the owners were going to burn. I am stripping the paint and I want to take the glass out. I watched a video on how to repair a glass pane in a door where he removed the trim around the glass. But my door seems to be made up of a solid trellis(?) I’m afraid I will harm the wood if I start digging around with an exacto knife. Any advise you could give me would be appreciated. I wish I could put a photo of it on here. Thanks, Lori
Lori, the glass is likely held in place with those same wood glazing strips unless it was assembled around the glass (very rare). I’d gently try to pry one off and see how it goes.
A friend has an old dutch door, the house seems about 1930 vintage. The bottom section has a narrow crack between the vertical and horizontal pieces (stile and rail?), which may be preventing the lock bar from the top section from seating correctly. Also the quadrant seems sticky.
The crack doesn’t seem to go more than 1/2 way down the width of the rail. Would epoxy filling of the crack be a reasonable repair?
Are brass quadrants waxed or oiled as maintenance or just washed off?
Phil, for a crack that is causing the door or lock to not seat properly a better repair would be to squeeze some wood glue like Titebond III (which is a waterproof glue, good for outdoors) into the crack and clamp the rail and stile back into place until the glue dries. Filling with epoxy will fix the problem cosmetically but the door will likely continue to split in time.
Have you ever seen a glass dutch door, like you would use on a patio? Does such a thing exist or would it be custom built?
Thanks, enjoyed the web site.
Never seen a glass one before, but if it can be dreamed I’m sure it can be built.
You’ll need to consider the functionality and suitability of the styles of exterior Dutch door hardware you would like to buy.
Scott I appreciate you enthusiasm and the quality artisanship with in the services that you company provides. Bringing something old and in need of repair back to life is trully a wonderful thing. I hope to be part fo your team.