DIY Dutch Barn Door Building Instructions

Build a stylish DIY Dutch barn door from scratch, to your custom measurements. The lower section makes a perfect baby gate or pet gate. 

After I designed the barn door baby gate for the stairs, I realized that I could add the same type of door up above and make it into a Dutch barn door. Double the barn door, double the love! (See more of our favorite barn door ideas here.)

I do speak Dutch, so having a Dutch barn door door sounded like a genius plan to me! Between the Swedish mora clock we built, the classic full-height board and batten, and the Dutch door, this view of the living room has plenty of European influence in the design! Maybe now I should add my wooden Dutch shoes to finish it off.

Adding the top Dutch door to the baby gate adds both style and privacy to our living room. You could build this door to fit any doorway in your home where you’d like to keep kids or pets in (or out) or where you’d like to add some style with an adjustable level of privacy.

How to Build a Dutch Barn Door

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The split barn door is basically just two wooden baby gates hung in the same doorway. Once you’ve built the first gate, adjust the height of the baby gate building plan to your desired height to fill the rest of the door frame.

Purchase the Dutch barn door instructions hereThe woodworking plan includes step by step instructions for the half door gate as well as tips and a measurement/calculation worksheet to determine the dimensions of the Dutch door.

This is a great farmhouse door: rustic wood, barn door design, and the split door resembles a stall door, too!

We also have another Dutch Door DIY Tutorial which starts with an existing solid wood door.

Tips for Building a Split Barn Door

All these tips and details are in the woodworking plan as well for easy reference. 

Cut the main pieces of the door to length, but wait to cut the cross braces so you can cut them to fit exactly.

After you’ve built the frame, check it for square with an easy measuring tape trick. Just measure one diagonal, then compare it to the measurement of the other diagonal. If the piece is square, they’ll be the same length. Adjust the pieces (by squeezing or pulling apart the corners) until the measurements match, then secure the frame for a practically perfect square.

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Once the frame is squared, use the exact dimensions of the frame to mark the angled cuts for the cross braces to ensure the best fit possible.

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After cutting all the pieces, shave off all the square edges on every side of the board, with a razor blade, to give it a hand carved look. This was Cassity’s idea, and, as most of her ideas do, it turned out nice with the perfect rustic barn door look.

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Lightly sand all the “hand-carved” boards as you assemble the door.

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As you install the back stiles, keep all your screws lined up on the back to keep it nice and clean looking. A neat line of screws makes the difference between looking “homemade” and “handmade” — a pro craftsman trick.

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After the door is assembled, sand it again before staining. You want it to *look* like an authentic barn door, not *feel* like it’s actually lived in a barn!

We used an awesome tool called the Dremel Multi-Max MM20 to get in the tricky corners.  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 tool and lightly sanded off any imperfection with little effort.

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How to Stain a Wooden Dutch Door

After the Dutch barn door is assembled, it’s time to stain it.

We originally went with a gray stain for these doors.  We purchased Minwax Water Based Wood Stain at True Value, tinted Charcoal Grey.

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, or a satin finish.)

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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.

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Here is how it looked after staining it. Very nice!  We wanted the rustic feel and the gray wood stain did a great job of giving the look we originally wanted.

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Later, after we also painted our interior doors, we adjusted the color of the stain to match by using this easy paint trick.

How To Adjust A Wood Stain Color Using Paint #remodelaholic

 

Dutch Door Hardware and Installation

To match the rustic farmhouse look of the Dutch barn door, we chose outdoor gate hardware that was all black.

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 jamb.

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You could avoid this if you wanted, by using regular door hinges (just adjust as you build so you’ll have room for a different hinge type!).

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.

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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.

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Here is the final door put together in all it’s glory.

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(This is a view from the stairs side.)

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And here’s the updated FINISHED product! (As finished as it’s probably going to get… just don’t look too close!)

Color Washing Paint Technique Finished Dutch Barn Door Split Door Baby Gate @Remodelaholic

This is after we stained it to match our interior door paint, installed new flooring, remodeled the stair riser and installed house numbers, installed floor-to-ceiling board and batten, built the Swedish mora clock, and built the console table from a thrift store find. Phew! That’s a lot of projects for just one wall of a living room!

More DIY Barn Door Ideas:

Originally published 09.25.12 // Last updated 10.16.19

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59 Comments

  1. Kan je echt nederlands praten? I am totally born and raised Dutch! Love the door. And thinking i may need to try that one! Good job!

  2. Wonderful! I’m a new follower and when I saw the baby gate I to my Dutch born husband I want that & I think you could add a top to make it a Dutch door. Funny coincidence that your hubby speaks Dutch as well Cassity. I don’t speak it but understand quite a lot when I hear or see it. What a small world! I’m loving both components of this project. Thanks!

  3. Prachtig! I fell in love with the baby gate, but adding an upper door really finishes it off! And I’m not just saying that cause I’m Dutch 😉 Thinking about making my own even though we don’t have children (yet). It really adds character to a room.

  4. I am in love!
    I noticed the hooks you have hanging on the wall — my husband actually put up a piece of trim the length of the stairwell (on the hidden side) and installed hooks on it – 12 to be exact. It’s the perfect place to store and hide coats, jackets, backpacks, and purses. We love it.
    Now to beg hubby to make this door for me!

  5. Goodmorning,

    I supplied a client with doorhardware, they sent me a picture of your door, it looks great. I do the same with recycled scaffold planks in Germany, I have a website which supplies the German market. I have now combined it with doorhardware.

    with regards,

    Paul Jagerman

  6. Justin and Cassity…….Loved the door!!! Such a very wonderful way to protect your small children. I have always wanted kitchen cabinet doors like this and even doors going in all of our rooms too. Did not know they are called “Dutch” doors. No wonder I could not get a good response when I would Google them. Was a cool thought to put a ledge on the bottom door for the top door to open at the same time. Would like some full-sized ones and will put them on my “Daydream List” and show them to my husband for our “Cabin in the Woods” in Texas. Thank y’all for sharing!!!

    1. Justin, I just decided to “Google” the doors and had a question for you, since you are Dutch…..The design of the doors are “Barn” doors? Right? But, when they are split in half, is that what makes them “Dutch” doors? Grew up at an Elementary school where the doors were like this in our classrooms. We also have them going into our Nursery at church. Thanks again!!!

  7. Thank you so much for taking the time to provide such detailed instructions! We desperately needed a way to keep our littles out of the kitchen! I will send pictures of our finished project if you would like. I will be building it this afternoon. Our opening is extra wide so i will have to build two that latch together. For the wide opening it is just a walkway, no way to do a Dutch door. However, I will be making the Dutch door for the kitchen to dining room doorway. I also plan on putting a shelf on the lower door to hold serving dishes when the top door is open. Once again, thank you! We sure appreciate the tutorials that allow us to build items that work perfectly for our family! God Bless!

      1. I did it! I built two because our opening was so wide. After messing around with a couple different stains, I finally found a combo that matches our cabinets nearly perfectly!!! I can’t get your email link to work, but I will keep trying! Now to decide if I want a Dutch door or a sliding door on the other opening. 🙂

  8. This is exactly like what I’m planning for my kids playhouse doors! Perfect! Could you share what hardware you used to link the door sections together so they can open as one when needed?

  9. Love the door! Would this be applicable for an exterior door? Would love this as my front door! Would love any suggestions.

    Love your site : ]

    1. It isn’t air tight, so you would need to modify it and maybe add another layer of wood and make sure whatever wood you use is sealed and can handle the heat and elements that a front door would have to handle. Also really good weather stripping in the door gap. Basically there would be some changes that would have to be made, but it could be done.

  10. Amazing superio% work. Have started my bedroom doors from this. Thank you so much will be following all your hard beautiful work.

  11. I am so glad I found your site. I am remodeling some rooms and we decided to do a Dutch door on one of the rooms. Now that door is in the same area as the rest of the doors. So, I should do them all Dutch doors. To make it look nice. Wish me good luck. Love your site.

  12. In the pictures it looks like the top half of door is a taller than bottom half. Is that the case? If so, how did you estimate the dimensions for the bottom, it appears to be height is same as width from instructions. I bought the wood yesterday and I am getting ready to cut….

  13. Made this today for my front porch entry.for maybe $10.00 using old pallets and 2×4’s. I’ll be painting it to match the exterior house and trim.
    I have chickens that come onto the porch and if I leave door open come in….eeeek…..built this not only to keep them out but the dogs and grand babies safely on porch. It’s absolutely beautiful with my homestead/farm. Thank you for tutorial.
    Did I mention I am new to wood working and this is my first ever project? Was not hard to read or understand directions and only took 90 minutes. I look forward to many more projects like this.
    Lisa P
    Northern California

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