How To Make a DIY Dutch Door from an Existing Door

See step-by-step how to make a DIY Dutch door from an existing door! This split door is the perfect old door project to add charm and functionality to an office, mudroom, or laundry room door.

You can also turn that old door into a sliding barn door, or build a DIY Dutch door from scratch with our tutorial and plans.

DIY Dutch Door From An Existing Door, Featured On Remodelaholic

DIY Dutch Door From An Old Door

 by Karla from It’s The Little Things

Last March I was lucky enough to spot a “Free Stuff” pile just outside of our neighborhood. And in it, was a solid wood, 8 panel door.

I thought it was perfect.

Will thought I was crazy.

the before: painted solid wood door

But he knew if he didn’t help me load it into the car that I would do whatever it took to get it in there myself. So, reluctantly, he helped me load the door, and it became mine!

You can read all about it, along with my original plan for the door, here:“Look What I Found”. And see all the readers’ opinions on the door here: “Your Opinions On The Door”

So what did we end up doing with it?

Well, here she is…

We cut out the top four panels and replace them with glass AND we turned it into a DIY Dutch door and I could not be happier with the end result!

The process for how to make a Dutch door was a bit tricky, since we also added the windows. We weren’t entirely sure how well the door would hold up to cutting out panels and sawing it in half, but luckily for us, it was in great condition.

How to Make a Dutch Door from an Old Door

Cutting the door in half to make a Dutch door was the easiest part of the process! Since we also cut out the panels and replaced them with glass, here’s the full process for adding glass pane windows to the door AND making the old door into a DIY Dutch door.

We intermixed the steps for adding the glass to the door and cutting the door into a Dutch door – you could add the windows first and then cut the door in half, or do the entire DIY Dutch door process before adding the windows.

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Materials & Tools

To make a Dutch door from an existing door, you’ll need:

  • A door that fits the door frame (some adjustments can be made, see below)
  • Optional, for shelf: Wood (2×4, 1×4, etc) the width of the door
  • Door knob (if not already on the door)
  • Sliding latch (to hold the 2 door sections together)
  • 1 extra door hinge (for the second door half)
  • Wood glue and nails
  • Paint/stain
  • Circular saw or table saw
  • Jigsaw or miter saw (for the corners of the shelf)
  • Chisel or router

Dutch door size: When finished, you want your DIY Dutch door to exactly fit your door frame. Measure as accurately as you can, to the millimeter! Old doors tend to be less uniform in size than new doors. A solid door can be planed down a bit to fit if needed. As you can see here, if the door height isn’t exactly a fit, adding the ledge shelf can make up the needed height, or you can use that cut to remove inches from the height as well to make a perfect fit.

And to add a window to the door you’ll need:

  • Drill with spade bit
  • Jigsaw
  • Silicone/caulk
  • Glass panes cut to fit
  • Wood trim

Step 1: Cut out the door panels

We were lucky to find a solid wood door, which makes adding a window much easier. See step-by-step instructions here to add a window to a hollow core door.

Since we wanted glass windows on top of our DIY Dutch door, we carefully removed the middle panels on the top half. You may be able to use a utility knife to cut the caulk on the panel and remove it that way — we cut ours out.

Use a spade bit to drill a hole in one corner of the panel you wish to remove.

How to remove panels in a door to put in glass by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

Then carefully cut out the center of the wood door panel.

Adding glass panels to a solid wood door by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

Repeat for each of the panels you want to replace with glass.

DIY Dutch door remodel, swapping wood panels for glass by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

And you’ll be left with a hole-y door like this.

Notice the gap at the top of the door? We’ll fill that in with the Dutch door shelf addition later. If your door perfectly fills your door frame, you’ll need to remove a slice to add the shelf.

Step 2: Cut the door in half

We split the door into a DIY Dutch door before adding the glass, since we weren’t sure how sturdy it would and we didn’t want to risk breaking the glass panes.

We sawed the door in half to create the split Dutch Door. You can use a circular saw or a table saw to cut the door.

With a circular saw, use a straight edge and clamps to ensure a straight and even cut.

Be sure to check that the doorknob location will match up with your existing door latch and strikeplate BEFORE you cut the door in half, just in case you need to adjust. Ours was lined up perfectly.

This is also the time to cut a slice out of the door if it’s too tall for your door frame. Most old doors are actually a little bit shorter, like ours, and need a filler piece, which we added later.

If you’re using a door that already fits the door frame perfectly, you’ll need to remove a slice the thickness of whatever shelf or ledge or topper you are putting on the top half of the bottom half of the door (if anything).

Step 3: Add the Dutch door knob

We also added a new doorknob since our old free door didn’t have one. Some salvaged doors will come with a doorknob, but most around here don’t.

DIY dutch door with rustic doorknob by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

Step 4: Add the DIY Dutch door shelf

We added a shelf ledge onto the top of the bottom half of the door. The original door was a few inches shorter than the doors in our house, so we had to fill that gap. Nothing a simple 2×4 couldn’t fix… Now it’s a perfect fit.

Remake an old used door into a dutch door with glass panels by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

Depending on the door size you need and the look you like, you might need a thinner 1×4 filler piece. We cut the 2×4 to length and rounded the corners so it wouldn’t interfere with opening the door. Then we secured it in place with wood glue and nails. We added some trim beneath the shelf for support and a decorative touch.

You could also use this process to make mini corbels from wood scraps like Sara did for her DIY farmhouse shelf.

Step 5: Add Dutch door hinges

No pictures, but once both halves of the DIY Dutch door were fit for the door frame, we added the hinges to the upper half of the door. Use a pencil to trace the additional hinge location, then chisel out the section so the hinge fits perfectly. Be sure to use long screws to attach the hinge to the door jamb!

Step 6: Add glass panels

Originally, we thought we would use plexiglass to create the windows in the top half of the door, but the more we thought about it, we knew that we could find a piece of glass that not only suited our aesthetic, but one that would make the door that much more unique.

Note: If you are working with a hollow core door instead of solid wood, read How to Install a Glass Window in a Hollow Core Door

We headed to Tacoma and found the coolest glass shop. My only requirements for the glass were that it let every bit of possible light through and that it have texture.

We settled on a piece of glass called “Falling Rain”. You get the picture – a little streaky and bubbly.  I decided to flip the glass sideways so that the streaks run from side to side, instead of top to bottom.

The glass fit perfectly and we held it in place with a bead of silicone.

Silicone used to secure glass panels in door remodel by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

Will cut strips of wood and stained them to frame in and secure the glass on the back side of the door.

Frames used when adding glass panels to a reclaimed door by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

The wood strips are held in place by a dot of glue and some carefully placed brad nails. You can also caulk or add more trim depending on what you like/need.

DIY Secure backing for glass panels added to thrifted door by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

Step 7: DIY Dutch door hardware and finishing touches

We stained the ledge on the bottom half to match the glass trim pieces and also re-positioned a small piece of hardware that was on the door when we first picked it up. I have no idea what this latch was used for, but it’s old and aged and I like it!

Rustic hardware for remodeling an old door into a dutch door with glass panels by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

We also added a sliding lock on the back of the door to keep the top and bottom together, when wanted.

DIY Dutch door with artisan glass panels DIY by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

Step 8: Enjoy!

I was giddy when it was all said and done!

And 8 months later…I still am!

Thrifted door remodel tutorial by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

The DIY Dutch door with windows lets light into our hallway, which was what I had always wanted. What is the point of having a window in a bright, light-filled laundry room if you never, ever see it anyway?

Now, we see the light!

Artisan Glass Transforms Reclaimed Solid Wood Door Into Light Giving Pathway By Its The Little Things Featured On @Remodelaholic

I can have the top door open when I’m in the room without letting pets/kids in, or close both for more privacy (aka peace and quiet).

And isn’t the bubbly streaky detail just perfect!

Hand-crafted Falling Rain glass used in door remodel by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

I definitely owe Will a big, huge Thank You for helping me make this happen!

DIY Dutch Door with glass panels tutorial by Its the Little Things featured on @Remodelaholic

And, for the record, he loves it too. 🙂

DIY Dutch Door FAQs

Can you make a regular door into a Dutch door?

Yes! Follow the tutorial above. Basically, you’ll add an additional hinge, cut the door in half, and re-hang the two half doors with some extra hardware and latches.

But can you make a Dutch door out of a hollow core door?

Also yes! The tutorial above shows how to make a Dutch door from a solid wood door, but you can use the same idea to for how to make a Dutch door from a hollow core door. The hollow core door will require some extra reinforcement since it is (wait for it) hollow inside… but that’s a great place to attach the shelf to the reinforcement board inside the door.

See how to reinforce a hollow core door to add a window (or make it a Dutch door 😉

Why do they call it a Dutch door?

Dutch doors originated in the Netherlands in the 1600’s — yes they really are Dutch! They were commonly used on farmhouses or stables to keep the animals out or in, or for kitchen doors to accept deliveries without opening the entire door.

What is the difference between a Dutch door and a stable door?

A Dutch door and a stable door are the same thing, just terms from different regional dialects (in this case, American English and British English). These split doors are also called half doors or double-hung doors.

Want to build a Dutch door from scratch?

We’ll show you how to build a wood farmhouse Dutch door from scratch using regular pine boards. The bottom of the doors makes the perfect barn door baby gate.

More DIY door update ideas you won’t want to miss:

DIY Dutch Door Tutorial From An Old Door, Remodelaholic

Originally published 12.28.2010 // Last updated 02.07.2024

Website | + posts

Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

We love hearing from fellow Remodelaholics, so let us know what you like about this and leave any questions below in the comments. If you've followed a tutorial or been inspired by something you've seen here, we'd love to see pictures! Submit pictures here or by messaging us over on Facebook.

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  1. >That is amazing. I love the double door look. Makes me want to let the light out of my laundry room!

  2. >Wow that is so cool, I have been wondering how hard that would be to do that. I bet I know what cool glass shop you were in…was it in Lakewood? Spent quite a bit of time there while my sister was doing a leaded glass door for my entry with German Antique glass..anyway what a marvelous job!

  3. >Wow..that really is a neat door. Good call on snagging it from the side of the road. I'd love to change all the doors in my house and I'd love to change a couple of them to be something unique and different like this. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. >Very cool! A friend of mine had a dutch door going into her kitchen from outside (in her last home). It was always fun to have it half open while we were inside. Something comforting about it!


  5. >I thought the ledge between the doors was on purpose. It looks great and a perfect solution for a door that wasn't perfect for the size. I picture your children hanging on the ledge while you do laundry and say..Mom, have you seen my blue socks? lol

    When I told my dad I broke a frame he told me to go to a stained glass door store. I told him it was a Dollar Tree frame so it's no biggie. 🙂

  6. >Beautiful job, well done. It looks like an original Dutch door 🙂 I think the piece of hardware was originally used to keep the door open a little, with a hook so it would stay open a crack. No idea at the moment how to call it duh.

    Happy new year from the Netherlands

  7. Looks like this was posted quite a while ago. I hope you’re still reading the comments. Hubby & I are working on a similar project however we are replacing the ENTIRE center of a door with glass. If it works, we plan to do all the interior doors the same way. I love the glass you chose and I’d really like to compare notes. So far, we’ve only cut out the center panel and are working on the getting 100 years of paint off the beautiful oak door. My designer friend is skeptical and thinks we need to take it to a professional installer.

  8. A quick question; what did you use to keep the top part shut? Hubbers and I have been talking of getting Dutch doors for the boys and our room, but if we can DIY it…. well, it would be wonderful!

    1. One of those surface bolts. There is a hole drilled into the base of the door, and the surface bolt just gets pushed down into the hole and it is nice and solid. Here is a link to the kind of lock I am talking about ( I had to search a few times to find the proper name! ) Good luck!

  9. Love this! The idea to trunk the glass, perfection! It reminds me of waves are the beach or even the spin cycle doing laundry!
    Custom, unique, details, this is what I want to see and read on this site.

  10. I know this is an old post, but if you still read the comments for it I would like to know what you did about the hinges. Does the door still just swing on 3 hinges or did you add a 4th so there would be 2 on top and 2 on the bottom? How is it holding up all these years later?

    1. Laurel, you always need to have 2 hinges on each part, so yes, 2 on top and 2 on the bottom. Good luck — I’m thinking about doing the same thing!

  11. Loved the article and great how-to instruction!! The door I would love to transform- the upper half is glass. How do you think this will look and function?

  12. The glasses and color you have used in Dutch door is looking very nice. I first thought it will look odd to but in the last picture it looks great. Good Job!! Thanks for sharing!!