How to Make a Double Dutch Door for a Playhouse
In a double Dutch door design, the top half of the door can be opened while the bottom half of the door remains closed. Double Dutch doors were invented in Holland centuries ago to prevent barnyard animals that clustered around the house from entering the home.
A double Dutch door can be a delightful addition to a childrens playhouse.
Measure the inside of the door opening in the playhouse for the width and height of the Dutch door you will build. Subtract ½ inch from the width and height of the overall size of the door so that when the finished door is installed in the opening there will be a little clearance at both the top and bottom of the door, and clearance along each side of the door.
Cut 1 inch by 2 inch dimensional lumber to the proper lengths to form two rectangular frames that will fit inside the door opening, one stacked on top of the other. Make one frame for the Lower part of the Dutch door that is half the height of the full door opening. Make the second frame for the Upper half of the Dutch door also half the height of the full door opening. Orient the framing lumber so that when the frame is laying on the floor the 1 inch wide side of the board faces up. Use 2 inch angle irons and ¼ inch long wood screws to join the lengths of wood together at the four corners.
Cover these two frames, on both sides, with a panel of ½ inch thick plywood cut to the proper size. Attach the plywood panels to the frames with ½ inch long brads or finish nails set on 4 inch centers.
Attach two hinges to the Lower section of the double door, on the inside of the door. Space these two hinges 4 inches up from the bottom of the door, and 4 inches down from the top of the door. Mount these hinges either on the left hand or right hand side of the door, depending on which direction you want to the door to “swing” on. Mount the hinges so the door either opens into the playhouse or opens out. It helps to hold the door hinge in your hand and ‘rehearse’ how the hinge will function depending on the direction you want the door to open (inwardly or outwardly).
Connect the Lower door hinges to the door frame opening using the supplied wood screws. Leave ¼ inch of clearance on both sides of the door panel and ¼ inch clearance up from the bottom of the door.
Test the installation of this Lower door panel. Make any adjustments necessary to the hinge placement to provide a smooth opening and closing of the Lower door panel.
Install two hinges on the Upper section of the door now, in the identical manner as the hinges you installed on the Lower section.
Connect the Upper section of the door to the door frame using the hinges. Allow ¼ inch of clearance on both sides of the door. This time allow 1/8 inch clearance between the door frame and the top of the Upper door panel. Allow 1/8 inch clearance between the bottom of the Upper door and the top of the Lower door section: the two doors should not scrape against each other where they meet.
Test the two doors. Adjust the four hinges as necessary for smoothest operation.
Install a standard “passage” type door knob, one that has no locking mechanism, on the lower door. How you install this door knob (and its accompanying striker plate installed in the door frame) will greatly depend on the make and model of the door knob, so follow the installation instructions that came with the knob. All door knobs come with templates to show you exactly where to locate the door knob and the striker plate so the knob will function correctly.
Mount a slide bolt mechanism between the two doors on the side where the door knob is located, on the inside of the door. Align the slide bolt so that when the bolt is slid down and into place the top half of the door is locked to the bottom half of the door. When the bolt is slid up and out of position the top part of the door should open while the bottom half remains closed. Precisely how this slide bolt mechanism is mounted to the doors will depend on the design of the slide bolt itself so follow the installation instructions that will come with the slide bolt.
Sand and then paint or otherwise decorate the double Dutch doors to suit.
Things You Will Need
- Measuring Tape
- Circular saw
- 1 inch by 2 inch dimensional lumber
- 2 inch angle irons
- 1/4 inch long wood screws
- Power drill/driver
- 1/2 inch thick plywood
- 1/2 finish nails or brads
- 4 door hinges (with screws)
- "Passage" type door knob and strike plate
- Door knob hole driller bit
- Wood chisel (for striker plate installation)
- Slide bolt mechanism (with screws)
- Sander or sanding blocks
- Finishing products (paint, stain, etc.)
For your children's safety, don't install a door knob on the door that can be locked in any way.
- "Playhouses You Can Build"; David Stiles; 1999
- "Childrens Playhouses"; Tina Skinner; 2001
- "Building Doors and Gates': Alan Bridgewater; 1999
- "Bolts For Double Doors"; F.E. Kidder; 2009
A writer and entrepreneur for over 40 years, J.E. Myers has a broad and eclectic range of expertise in personal computer maintenance and design, home improvement and design, and visual and performing arts. Myers is a self-taught computer expert and owned a computer sales and service company for five years. She currently serves as Director of Elections for McLean County, Illinois government.