9 Powerful Tips: How to Buy a Dutch Door [Step by Step]

Half-lite white Dutch Door. Top leaf with clear lite glass.

You’ve seen a stunning exterior Dutch door photo online and…

Envision it adorning your beautiful home.

You wanted it yesterday!

Problem…

You don’t know how to measure the door size. You can’t figure out the ‘handing’ and other ‘technical’ stuff.

You KNOW these are important details; because getting them wrong will cost you time and money.

Don’t worry.

This step by step guide will show you exactly how and where to buy a Dutch Door.

BONUS!

Download a FREE checklist that will show you how to quickly leverage these strategies. Includes 2 bonus door measurement techniques not found in this post.

1 - Know Your Door Terms like a Pro

Before you go find a paper, pencil and measuring tape; you need to know the different parts of a door system.

Door Terms

Door Slab

This is the Door leaf without the frame, hardware or hinges.

In the case of Dutch Doors, it will be two leaves.

Slab Doors are cheaper than pre-hung doors.

You can have door slabs unfinished (not painted or stained) or factory finished.

Dutch Door Slab - A Door leaf without the frame, hardware or hinges

Pre-hung

A complete door system already hung on hinges and attached to the door frame.

A Pre-hung unit includes a door slab, frame (jamb and threshold), and hinges.

The door may come prepped to accommodate a standard lockset and lever (or knob) handle.

Pre-hung Door is a complete system where the door is already hung on hinges and attached to the frame.

Handing & Swing

Door handing refers to the direction the door opens – RIGHT or LEFT.

Swing Determines if it swings IN or OUT of the building.

Jamb

 

the vertical posts on either side of the door, along with the top horizontal piece. The three members form part of the door frame.

The Jamb spans the thickness of the wall.

Door Jamb are the vertical posts on either side of the door, along with the top horizontal piece.

Sill / Threshold

Bottom part of the door frame, that will sit on subfloor.

Bottom part of the door frame, that will sit on subfloor

Weatherstripping

A weather seal placed at the bottom of door as well as around the door jamb.

Dutch Doors have extra weatherstripping between top and bottom leaves.

Weather-stripping acts as a barrier against air, moisture and light.

Dutch Doors have extra weatherstripping between top and bottom leaves

Trim

A type of casing around the interior perimeter of the door jamb.

The trim covers the joint between the jamb and wall.

Trim is the of casing around the interior perimeter of the door jamb.

Rough Opening

Space in an entryway that’s required to accommodate the door frame.

It’s the distance between the upright framing members called ‘Trimmers’ or “Jack Studs” in a doorway; and the distance between the subfloor to the bottom of the header.

Door Preparation (Handle prep)

Bore hole prepared to accommodate a door lever and lockset.

Preparation of door to accommodate door lever and latch.

Dutch bolt

A type of slide bolt to secure top and bottom leaves of a Dutch Door together.

The Dutch Bolt secures the top and bottom leaves of a Dutch Door.

More Door terms could be found here.

Before we move on…

Let’s get over the niggling, “where to buy?” question done with.

Where to buy exterior Dutch doors?

United States residents can buy Dutch Doors (Half Doors) online at MyDutchDoor website.

Check our Latest products!

The bad news?

Unfortunately, we do not ship to some parts of California, Alaska, Hawaii and rest of the world.

The good news?

Shipping is FREE within the contiguous United States!

Now:

Let’s get that paper and pencil- it’s time to pick a door style.

2 – Choose a Dutch Door & Glass Style.

Choose a Dutch door style of your liking.

It may be traditional, modern or craftsman styled Dutch Door.

No matter:

Pick a door you like!

 

Having more glass makes your house brighter. Placing the glass on top will increase security.

 

If you like to have glass on your door, note down how much glass do you need (top half or top 1/8 of the door)?

Decide if you want the glass to be a single light or divided. If divided how many panes?

Note your thoughts down or draw a rough sketch on paper.

3 – Decide if You Want a Door Slab or Pre-Hung Unit

Dutch Door Slab - A Door leaf without the frame, hardware or hinges

3 Reasons for Buying a Door Slab Only

Your front door is falling apart.

But:

  1. You feel the existing door frame is strong
  2. You are sure it’s intact, square, not warped, damaged or rotting.
  3. You know the finished size (opening) will fit the new door.

No problem:

All you need is to replace the door slab only that will fit into your exterior door jamb (frame).

Because, it saves time, money and requires less work.

Not sure if you need a slab or pre-hung door?

Then always go for a pre-hung door.

CAUTION:

Do note that fiberglass doors are manufactured ¾” inch shorter than a comparable wood door. In fact, a “Dutched” fiberglass door will be 1” shorter still. An important point to remember if you are replacing a wood door with fiberglass.

Check if the new slab hardware latch and deadbolt, will align with your existing jamb. A door frame that hangs a standard full slab door WILL NOT FIT Dutch door hinges, lock and deadbolt.

Go for a slab door if you know what you are doing. If, unsure, order a pre-hung system.

 

Pre-Hung Doors: Why You Need One

Not only does your old door look tired; the frame bows and the door will not close tight.

You know the new Dutch Door lock and hinge prep will not be a perfect fit to the existing frame.

You need to replace it all – The door, frame, hinges, weather-stripping – the works.

Pre-hung Door is a complete system where the door is already hung on hinges and attached to the frame.

Buying a door pre-hung in a frame will not only ensure a better ‘fit’. It will look much nicer.

A pre-hung door comes with a door in frame, weatherstripping, sill and hinges. And the bonus is you will be better prepared to install the door, level, plumb and square!

The door may be prepped for hardware. This means you may request the handles and lockset bored. This way you are assured that that the Bore Hole and Cross Bore (hole between door and jamb) aligns.

Note down if you want a slab only or pre-hung door.

4 – Get Your Handing and Swing Right (Getting it Wrong Will Cost You)

We all know doors are not complicated.

The handle will be on the left or right of the door and they either swing in or out of the house.

So, ordering a door is a no brainer, right?

Not so fast…

Do you determine the handing by standing inside or outside of the house?

Got you thinking?

In our experience – people get confused with the door handing

Because getting the wrong handing can cost you time and money.

Why?

Your hinges will be on the wrong side.

The deadbolt may be outside and the keyhole inside…!

Remember, most of our doors are made to order.

You’ve probably heard the expression before.

“Measure twice, cut once”.

So, better get it right the first time.

BONUS:

Download a handy pdf checklist to easily enter your door project details.

 

Let’s start with the swing.

Determining Door Swing is Easy

Stand outside looking towards your door.

If the door opens in, it’s an Inswing (I/S)

If the door opens out, it’s an Outswing (O/S)

Make a note of your door swing.

Now let’s check the handing.

How to Quickly Determine Correct Handing

Once again, stand outside your door.

Now open the door.

It’s a Left-Hand Door;

  • If the door swings in and the hinges are on your left (Left Inswing) OR
  • If the door swings out and the hinges are on the right (Left Outswing)

Diagram of Left hand inswing and left hand out swing doors.

It’s a Right-Hand Door;

  • If the door swings in and the hinges are on your right (Right Inswing) OR
  • If the door swings out and hinges are on your left (Right Outswing)

Diagram of Righhand in swing and out swing doors.

Follow this reliable method and you will not go wrong.

TIP:

Hardware manufacturers do not follow the Door Industry standard for handing. They use lockset orientation to describe if it’s a right or left hand door. Avoid confusion. Compare our door handing chart with that of the hardware vendor’s when buying your lock and handle set.

 

You’ve got your handing figured out.

Write it down.

Now let’s measure your door.

5: Measure Your Door Size (Width & Height)

You learned the difference between a slab door and a pre-hung

Now:

Let’s start by measuring your front door slab

How to Measure a Door Slab in 2 Easy Steps

Step 1 – Measure door width

Measure the horizontal width of the door slab at the top, middle and bottom.

Record the smallest.

Measure the horizontal width of the door slab at the top, middle and bottom

Step 2 – Measure Door Height

Take 3 Vertical measurements of the height of the door slab at the left, middle and right.

Record the smallest number.

Measure the vertical height of door, bottom to top.

What if you want to measure a pre-hung door?

BONUS!

Download and print the handy pdf chart to record your door measurements.

 

Pre-Hung Door: How to measure the Rough Opening

You may associate Pre-hung doors with the words ‘rough opening’.

That sounds scary.

You may be imagining tearing down the door trim, so you can measure the space between the frame and brick mold.

No need for all that:

We’ll show you a Quick and Easy Method to measure your rough opening without getting your hands dirty.

This is a rough estimate – with about 90% accuracy.

What if you are a ‘perfectionist’?

No problem:

We’ll show you the Exact Measure Method so you can be 100% accurate.

Be warned:

For this strategy, you’ll need to roll up the sleeves for some serious work!

Measuring the Rough Opening (Quick & Easy Method)

Here’s the quick and easy 2 step method to determine a standard rough opening for a pre-hung door.

Step 1: Follow steps 1 and 2 mentioned in “How to Measure a Door Slab”.

Step 2: Add 2” to the slab width and another 2 ¾“ to the door height.

That’s your remaining rough opening size.

For example:

If your Fiberglass Dutch Door is 36” wide and 78 ¼” * tall;

Your rough opening should be 38” wide x 81” tall to accommodate the new door and frame.

NOTE:*

Fiberglass Doors are typically manufactured to 79 ¼” height compared to 80” standard height for wood doors. And, Dutch Doors are 1” shorter because of the “Dutch Cut”. The rough opening may change if you add a shelf to your Dutch Door (up to ¾” taller).

 

Now enter the rough opening size on your paper.

How easy was that?

Pre-Hung Door: Measuring the True Rough Opening (Exact Measure Method)

Measuring the True Rough opening requires you have some extra tools.

As mentioned before:

You’ll need to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty!

Tools you’ll need:

  • Putty Knife
  • Pry Bar
  • Pencil& paper
  • Measuring tape

Tools to measure the front door. Putty Knife, Pry Bar, Pencil & paper, Measuring tape.

  1. Use the Pry Bar to lift the interior door trim from the old framing to see the rough opening. Be careful not to damage the wall or trim – you may be able to re-use them.
  1. Use the Putty Knife to remove any insulation between the rough opening and frame. You should see the edges of the frame and Trimmers (Jack Stud).
  1. Measure the outer width of frame (Jack stud to Jack Stud). Record from 3 places – top, middle and bottom. Enter the smallest.
  1. Measure the outer height of frame (bottom of header to subfloor). Take measure from 3 places – left, middle and right. Record the smallest.
  1. Replace the insulation and trim until you install the new door.

When you complete this step, you’ll have noted down the Rough Opening width x height in inches.

6: Measure the Jamb Width (for Pre-Hung Doors)

You need to measure the jamb so the door fits snug and operates smooth.

Will there be problems with incorrect jamb size?

Sure:

  • Because, a smaller jamb will expose the rough frame
  • If you get a larger jamb – you’ll need to trim it to fit the wall
  • If it’s loose, there may also be draft, moisture, light or air issues.

Here’s an Effortless Way to Measure the Jamb

back of the interior trim to the back of the exterior trim

  1. Take a measuring tape.
  2. Measure the jamb width from the back of the interior trim to the back of the exterior trim (hump to hump).
  3. Do not measure any of the trim materials.
  4. Write it down.

 

TIP: 

When you order a prehung door, the sill (threshold at bottom of door frame) will complement jamb width

 

You might be wondering:

“Where do I place the handle and locks?”

Let’s tackle that issue:

7: Decide on Door Preparation (for Door Lock)

It’s important you know how we prepare (prep) the door to fit the type of lock you need.

Because, your entryway security depends on the type of locks you use.

We will show you exactly how to decide on a lock type and order your door prepped.

Door preparation comes in two types. Single Bore or Double Bore.

Single Bore (Latch Only) – the Standard Prep That’s Economical

The standard door comes with a single bore.

This is how your typical door will look like…

Preparation of door to accommodate door lever and latch.

Simply said:

There is a single hole to accommodate the handle (or knob) and door latch.

A single bore on a Dutch Door comes in the lower leaf.

 

What if you want extra security?

Then go for a Double Bore

Double Bore (Latch + Deadbolt) – For Extra Security

Prep the door to accommodate latch and handle set, but also the deadbolt for added security.

A Double Bore comes with two holes bored to accommodate the handle latch and deadbolt

For Dutch Doors, the bores will be in each leaf.

The top leaf (top half) will accommodate the deadbolt. The bottom leaf bore will accommodate the latch.

NOTE:

In a Fiberglass, Dutch Door the Handle Prep Bore is placed lower than the typical Standard Bore.

 

In a Dutch Door, the handle prep will be approximately 31" - 32" off the floor. The Deadbolt prep will be 11" off center. This is lower than a standard door.

The bores will be strategically placed 11” apart center to center, to accommodate the Dutch Bolt.

 

Dutchbolt with Latch and Deadbolt installed in a prehung door.

We highly recommend you use a Dutch bolt for extra security.

That’s because Dutch Bolts fasten the top and bottom leaves together.

The Dutch Bolt secures the top and bottom leaves of a Dutch Door.

 

NOTE:

We do not provide door hardware (latch and deadbolt). You may purchase a Dutch Bolt (optional). On request, we will prep the bore for free. The door knob height on fiberglass Dutch Doors are generally lower than traditional doors. 

 

Now that you’ve decided the type of lockset you need, note it down.

Good News!

Most of the ‘heavy’ stuff is complete.

Now it’s time for the ‘fun’ part.

8: Choose a Fiberglass Door Color

Now comes the fun part

You get to choose the door color.

Here’s the snag:

You don’t know what surface type is best suited for your choice of color

No worries:

What You Need to Know BEFORE Choosing Your Fiberglass Door Color

Fiberglass doors come in two surface textures

Smooth surface doors for painting and

Textured (Mahogany or Oak) for painting or staining.

Use a smooth surface for painting and a textured surface for staining or painting.

Here are the 3 steps in deciding a door color

  1. Decide if you want to paint or stain
  2. Then, decide on the surface type (Smooth for paint only or Textured to paint or stain.)
  3. If textured decide on skin type (Oak or Mahogany)
  4. Now decide on your favorite paint or stain color – write it down

Go ahead

Treat yourself.

Here are some typical paint and stain colors you can select:

Choose your door paint or stain colors from this palette.

You got the door sized up; decided on the color, now you can select the hinges and sill color.

9: Choose Your Door Hinges & Sill Color

My Dutch Doors offer sills and hinges in Silver and Bronze color

Here’s what they look like:

Door Hinge Colors come in Silver and Bronze.

This is what your sill color looks like

Door sills come in Silver and Bronze colors.

Make a note of the hinges and sill color on the paper.

Now you have a complete understanding of how to buy an Exterior Dutch Door.

Anything We Missed?

Congratulations!

By now you know;

  • The most important door terms,
  • The difference between a slab and pre-hung door
  • How to determine door swing and handing
  • How to measure a door width and height
  • How to measure the rough opening and jamb size
  • The type of lock and deadbolt to order and
  • The type of surface best suited to paint or stain a door

Are there any door buying tips we missed?

Or maybe you have a question about one of the steps.

Either way, let us know by messaging us right now.

If you are ready

Start building your door now!

Check our Latest products!

 

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