After I designed the baby gate for the stairs for my most recent True Value project, I realized that I could add the same type of door up above and make it into a dutch barn door. I thought that this was a genius plan, after all I do speak Dutch and it was just meant to be that I had my own dutch barn door in my house, I guess. Maybe, I can now put my wooded Dutch shoes by the dutch barn door to finish it off, I will have to ask Cassity for permission first.
Any way, now that we have the top door in addition with the baby gate, it provides some additional privacy for the living room. Since I already showed you the plans for the baby gate here, I wanted to show you some additional tips on how I build the dutch barn door to top it off.
All you need to do with the top door, is adjust the height of the baby gate plan to your desired height. I took the opening and subtracted 1/2” to get the finished height of my door. The width stayed the same as the previous baby gate I built.
How I Built My Dutch Barn Door
I first cut all of the pieces to length, except for the cross braces. You need to have the frame built first and use it as a guide for cutting the cross braces to length. I explain more about that a little later.
TIP: After I had all the pieces cut the the right length and shape, I shaved off all the square edges on every side of the board, with a razor blade, to give it a hand carved look. I thought this turned out nice. This was Cassity’s idea, so I need to give her the credit. It was the perfect thing to do for the look she was going for.
Next, I laid the top and bottom rails face down on the table with the two back side stiles placed at each end, forming the frame of the door. I started with one screw at each corner and made sure that the frame was square while drilling. After all corners where square, I added an additional screw to help keep it square and then measured the space for the front stile, cut it the stiles to length and screwed them in place. I wanted all the screws to be on the back of the door, the opposite side of the cross braces, so I didn’t have to see the how it is fastened together. I only used screws and not glue. For added strength you could add glue in between each board.
TIP: Keep all your screws lined up on the back to keep it nice and clean looking. Make sure you are drilling through to the front pieces to hold it all together but don’t let the screws show through the front.
TIP: When Checking if something is square or not, you can use the tape measure trick. You measure the corners on a diagonal to see if they measure out the same. If they are you the same then it is square. If not, you need to squeeze or pull apart the corners until the measurements are the same to be square.
When cutting the cross braces, I used the square door frame as a guide to mark where to cut them (see below). One side of the board was in the corner of the opening at one end and the same thing on the opposite end. See photo for how I lined it up.
This is how the cross braces turned out after cutting them to shape.
Before I assembled the rest of the pieces, I lightly sanded the edges with a sanding block to take off any little sharp pieces of wood sticking out and made sure that all the back stiles fit in the frame.
Then I started to screw in the back stiles on one at a time with screws only in the frame and cross braces, until they were all in place.
After I had it assembled it, I used an awesome tool called the Dremel Multi-Max MM20. This tool can sand in corners easily… along with a million other great uses, which I have been trying out lately. Anyway I grabbed my new Dremel Multi-Max MM20 tool and lightly sanded off any imperfection with little effort.
Now that it is all assembled, it’s time to stain it. We wanted to go with a gray stain for these doors. We purchased the stain at True Value. It is Minwax Waterbased Wood Stain. It is tintable (you can see the color options here) Cassity chose Charcoal Grey. We had it Mixed at True Value when we picked up the wood.
We applied the stain and wiped off the excess almost immediately, to let the knots show in the pine. We didn’t want to add anything else to it after the stain. We wanted the rustic feel, so no shiny finish necessary! (You could look for a wax if you felt like you needed a finish…)
Stain the back first and be sure not to drip stain through to the front. If you do drip through, wipe it off right away, to avoid really dark spots of stain. Start with one or two boards at a time. I used a foam brush to apply the stain in the joints first. Then I brushed the stain on the length of boards and wiped it right off. This is how it looked with wipe on, wipe off.
Here is how it looked after staining it. Very nice! We wanted the rustic feel and I think this did a great job.
We decided to have outdoor gate hardware for the door that was all black. These we also purchased it at True Value. With this type of hinge, I had to hang it differently then you would a typical door hinge that would be hidden at the end of the door. We wanted to see these hinges so they had to be hung on the outside if the door and on the door jam. You could avoid this if you wanted, by using regular door hinges.
On top of the door I added a ball door catch, similar to what you would see on a bedroom closet door. This helps the door stay closed without needing a latch.
We wanted a simple handle and latch that so we could lock the door by drilling a hole into the door frame. But just by opening the top door you can unlock the door from either side.
In order to open the full door together, I added a small piece of molding on top of the baby gate to push the upper door open at the same time as you opened the bottom gate.
Here is the final door put together in all it’s glory. We really love it and find ourselves just staring at it at times. I know that the trim is not quite done, but that will be coming soonish. As for now having the door up was most important to keep the kids off the stairs.
This is a view from the stairs side.