This is your guide to French doors. We explain precisely what french doors are, pros, cons and alternatives to french doors. Lots of photos too.
French doors have become popular in homes with patios, as well as those looking to combine elegance with functionality. However, what is it that makes a door French? Are these the best options on the market, and what makes them so popular?
If you’re considering having this type of door installed in your home, then here’s everything you need to know. Plus, we’ve included a thorough list of alternatives to help you with your search.
What Are French Doors?
So, what makes a door French? Does it enjoy a good baguette or was it simply made in France? While those would be interesting, the term “French door” refers to the style of door that it is.
Traditionally, French variants are double hinged that can open either outwards or inwards based on room design. Open doors provide full access to the width of their opening, unlike some common wooden or screen doors that eat up extra space.
These doors are often denoted by their appearance, which include a wood frame with divided glass panes taking up the majority of the door, much like French windows. While the windows are an excellent option for viewing into the backyard or patio, they are also an excellent source of natural light for the home.
There are standard size options for more traditional doorway openings, as well as customizable options that accommodate unique or older spaces. You can also customize the window type, glass type, material and color to best suit your home.
They can lead from one room to another or from inside to outside the house.
The Pros and Cons of French Doors
While their customizable aspects and features are certainly appealing, there are pros and cons to consider before deciding to install French doors in your home. It’s important to look at every aspect before making the investment.
- Makes home look bigger: For starters, French doors can create the impression of a larger house. This is especially useful for apartments, too. Since the panes are made of glass, the added visibility doesn’t make the door feel like a barrier between spaces.
- Interior or exterior doors: You can use them as interior or exterior doors for this purpose. They can separate a living room from a dining room without making either feel cramped, as well as make your patio feel like an extension of your interior space.
- Beautiful: This type of door is also aesthetically pleasing, which increases the value of your home by adding a general appeal to your property. Many consider them to be a high-class home installment.
- Easily customized: Their ability to be easily customized allows you to create a unique fit for your home from farmhouse stylings to modern and mid-century. This versatility makes them a popular choice for those looking to make a one of a kind home.
- Provide natural light: Last, but not least, they allow an ample amount of natural light to enter your home. Not only does this look wonderful, but it saves you money on electricity bills during the day. Who needs to turn on the light switch when you have plenty of sunlight brightening up your house?
- Need more space: French doors require a little more space to open than most doors since their hinges allow them to fully open up to the space of the frame. This means you will have to carefully consider whether your home allow enough room for them to open comfortably, and might need to rearrange a few things so they can open.
- Price: While they do add an instant appeal, that popularity comes with a price. You will find that French doors are more expensive than your standard solid door. That might not be an issue, but it is something to keep in mind, especially if you are in the midst of other renovations.
- Installation more difficult: Installing this style door is not a simple DIY task. It can be done, sure, but you might need the help of a professional installer. Luckily, most places that sell them also offer installation.
- Not a good fit for every home style: These doors do look wonderful, but they do not go with every design style (despite what some people might think). Carefully consider whether or not a French door will look right with the stylings of your home. Otherwise, you might end up with something completely out of place.
- Not energy efficient: Finally, French doors are well known to have poor energy efficient ratings. The area where they join together allows air to enter your home and susceptible to water leakage. This can drive up cooling and heating bills while also leading to regular repairs in areas with heavy rainfall.
Alternatives to French Doors
For some, the French door is an easy choice to make in their home. If you feel otherwise, then know that there are multiple alternatives to combat the cons mentioned above.
1. Basic Doors
Sometimes, a traditional wooden door or basic door works best. Instead of installing the French variety, you can have windows installed on both sides of your existing door to brighten up the room with plenty of natural light.
These doors are also a whole lot cheaper. However, there are still plenty of other options out there if you are avidly looking to replace your basic door.
· Simple and efficient
· Multiple color options
· Excellent locking systems
· Kind of plain
· Extremely limited natural lighting
· Cannot be seen through
2. The Bi-Fold
Also known as folding doors, bi-fold doors are an excellent alternative for creating the open atmosphere that French doors provide without taking up so much valuable space when opened. They also provide a larger viewing window between your spaces, making the visually increased appearance more dramatic.
In most cases, bi-folds are also more energy efficient. Their insulation keeps thermal energy in, saving drastically on heating bills in the winter when compared to other hinge-style doors.
· Space saver
· Larger windows for viewing
· Energy efficient
· Still requires interior or exterior space when open, but less than French doors
· Not as great for security as other doors
· Is easily blown shut when opening outwards if not up against a wall
3. Sliding Glass
Those looking for the same amount of customizable options without sacrificing a great view should consider sliding glass doors. Since the majority of their construct is glass, they provide the same visible increase and natural light that French doors offer, if not more.
These are also an excellent choice if your home is tight on space. Since they slide over one another, you never have to worry about making enough room for the door to swing open.
As an added bonus, sliding glass doors provide an extra level of security. Their locking systems keep them in place, they cannot be lifted off the rails, and no one can kick them open like you would a basic door. As for the glass, double pane is tough as nails.
One final note on sliding glass doors: They are easily fixed with a sliding screen door on the same rail system. This makes it easy to open your door to let the fresh air in without having to worry about bugs or animals.
· Space saving rail design
· Excellent security
· Same window space as French models
· Easily added sliding screen door
· Just as, if not more, expensive than French models
· Requires expert installation
4. Pocket or T
Pocket doors, which can sometimes be considered t-hinge doors, give you all of the benefits their sliding cousins offer and more. They slide along a track in a similar fashion, but then hide out of sight in a pocket built into the wall. This allows for uninterrupted views as well as an excellent way to save on space.
· Disappears into wall
· Ample window space
· Combines exterior and interior space
· Expert installation required
· Wall pockets might not work for every doorway
Instead of relying on hinges or sliding tracks, pivot doors utilize a central point either buried into concrete or tucked neatly into the door frame. They allow for expansive viewing in large openings, and are primarily made of glass. Plus, they instantly add a unique flair to your home.
· Ample viewing pane when closed
· Unique design for unique spaces
· Can obstruct view when open
· Mediocre energy efficiency
· Some models are very expensive
Choosing the Right Door
There are all sorts of options to choose from when picking out a new door for your home. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of each type heavily before making a final decision. However, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these excellent choices.
For some, the elegance in design that French doors offer is the exact type of finesse their home needs. For others, sliding glass doors or pivot models make for a more unique feel while providing much of the same benefits.
If you want the visual effects and appeal that French doors offer but can’t stand the downsides to owning them, then know that you are not limited to that style. Every one of the door styles mentioned above provide the same effect with their own unique benefits. Which do you think would look the best in your home?
Here’s a great pinterest version of our French doors article for your boards: