All You'd Ever Want To Know About French Doors

All You'd Ever Want To Know About French Doors

Doors
By Mateos Glen Hayes August 09, 2022

Disclaimer: Contractors.com is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products mentioned in this article.

Those in the market for some new patio doors should seriously consider getting a French door. There’s a reason that they are becoming so popular right now. Aside from looking pretty neat, French doors combine style and high-quality materials for a unique door design.

Because they come in a variety of different materials and configurations, French doors can also be made to fit with all manner of patios, porches, and interior designs. They are also an excellent option for anyone needing a backyard door that lets in more natural light. 

What Are French Doors?

French doors are a popular choice for patio doors thanks to their robust construction and beauty.

French doors are a popular choice for patio doors thanks to their robust construction and beauty.

In the 1600s French homeowners began to cross their doors with windows, creating wooden frame doors with glass frames. This allowed for lighter, airier home entryways thanks to the added natural light the multi-paned doors allowed. A century later this innovation made its way to the North American continent where it quickly became the design of choice for many upscale homes.

French doors can be found in such iconic homes as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. As such the French door is now a thoroughly American home design feature that has become ubiquitous in many suburbs throughout the country. Modern French doors are made with more durable glass and materials such as aluminum. They also come in a wider variety of styles, with different window pane arrangements, greater energy efficiency, and also improved security.  

Key Questions

Take thorough measurements before installing French doors so you can ensure everything will fit correctly.

Take thorough measurements before installing French doors so you can ensure everything will fit correctly.

Before choosing your next patio door, it’s a good idea to do some useful research and have all of the essential facts at hand so that you can make an informed decision. Here are some of the main questions homeowners typically have about French doors. We recommend asking your seller these questions as well so that you have multiple sources of information. At the end of the day, the better informed you are the easier it will be to make a good choice. 

Where to Buy French Doors? 

Because they are so popular, French patio doors are found in a variety of different stores. For low to mid-range models, you can find a healthy number of French door options at any big box store. This tends to be the place that has the most affordable options available. Alternatively, you can visit your local lumberyard for a much wider number of options. Lumber Yards offer higher-end French patio doors since they are custom-made to the exact specifications of the client using quality materials straight from the source.

French doors come in a variety of different colors and configurations.

French doors come in a variety of different colors and configurations.

Cost?

This is going to depend a lot on what range of French door models you buy from. Not including installation costs, higher-end French doors can go for $3,000 or more since these designs will often feature fiberglass or aluminum cladding. Since these doors are typically made to order this will also drive the cost up. Stock French patio doors by contrast go for far less, and you can find examples for as little as $400, not including installation costs. These will often be premade examples made of steel or a lower grade wood material, but can still be quite durable.  

DIY or Pro?

Because balancing double doors can be inherently technically challenging, installation is usually something that is best left to the professionals since a mistake could become rather expensive fast. Having said that, if you are an avid DIYer with a good amount of experience you can try your hand at French door installation. It certainly is not the most technically demanding job, but you will need to know some basics about door installation. 

French Door Longevity

It is not unusual to see French doors with twenty-year warranties, so this gives you a pretty good idea of how long you can expect a French door to last. Quality French patio doors are typically quite robust in their construction and this allows them to withstand the elements for decades without faltering. When you recall that exterior French doors also boost curb appeal, this makes them an excellent investment. It is not unusual to inherit French patio doors from a previous homeowner when you buy a home.

Pros 

French doors allow in plenty of natural light and can hugely improve your home’s ventilation.

French doors allow in plenty of natural light and can hugely improve your home’s ventilation.

As you might imagine, a beautiful door design like this comes with some pretty compelling benefits that set it apart from other door styles. This is of course expected as well given that high-end French doors will come with a price premium, so it's only fair that you get good value and functionality in return. 

Lots of Options

Aside from being able to choose between low, mid, and high range options, you also have quite a lot of flexibility when it comes to types of exterior French doors. French doors can be made to fit any configuration. You don’t even need to adhere to the classic double door design.

Sliding French patio doors are also available, giving your sliding door a traditional look while also allowing for beefier rails further increasing durability. There are also a lot of materials to choose from depending on how you want your exterior French doors to look and feel. Wooden doors will of course look more authentic, but aluminum plated doors will last much longer since the wooden frame will be protected by moisture.

Sliding French doors typically come with more durable door rails and sliders, making them quite long-lasting.

Sliding French doors typically come with more durable door rails and sliders, making them quite long-lasting.

Natural Light Galore

A glass French door is going to let a lot of sunlight in, and that’s objectively a good thing. Many modern home designs today neglect this detail, but it is crucial. A dark home with minimal natural light is not ideal because exposure to sunlight helps you stay healthy and happy. A French door can help to add natural light to your home’s interior and therefore rectify that problem. The glass panes can also help channel the sun's warmth into your home, perfect when things get frosty. 

Fresh Air

The only thing better than plenty of natural sunlight is of course a healthy dose of fresh air. Modern homes also often have poor ventilation, allowing toxins to accumulate and preventing proper circulation of fresh air. However, thanks to their design French patio doors can be cracked open to increase your home’s cross ventilation. This keeps your home filled with fresh air and can also help cool things down in the summer. 

Cons

Glass panes require regular cleaning to keep them from getting obscured by grime.

Glass panes require regular cleaning to keep them from getting obscured by grime.

Even the best door designs will also have some downsides that should be considered as well when you are looking for the best new exterior doors. These certainly aren’t deal breakers, but they can help you get a better idea of whether a French patio door is a good fit for your home. 

Maintenance (elements)

French doors are more exposed to the weather due to the nature of their design. This is especially true for the swinging French patio doors. Because they swing open, these French doors can let in moisture and are therefore more susceptible to the elements. But even interior doors will require some maintenance.

 Your doors may have sliders or tracks that need to be cleaned regularly. As with other doors, weatherstripping wears out and will need to be replaced and hinges will need tightening from time to time. Once French door specific task is that the glass panes will need to be cleaned regularly as they will otherwise become obscured by dirt.

Interior French doors will require quite a bit of room to swing open properly.

Interior French doors will require quite a bit of room to swing open properly.

Privacy 

The most obvious downside of a glass French door is privacy. You are in full view to passers-by with French doors, especially at night. As such it is a good idea to invest in some drapes or shades to give you a bit of extra privacy. This will also make it difficult for unwanted guests - such as burglars - from scoping things out before making their move. 

They Take Up Space

Large wood and glass French doors that swing inwards are going to need a lot of room to work normally. This is especially important to keep in mind if you are planning to get some interior French doors since things can get cramped fast if you don’t have enough room inside your home. If you are short of space but really want some interior French doors, we recommend taking thorough measurements before installation so that you can ensure everything fits as it should.

MG

Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes

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