What are the advantages/disadvantages of a French Door?

Advantages:

  • Ease of Access – The French Doors make up in ease of access what they lack in space saving. While French Doors require far more clearance to fully open, they can also open the entire width of the opening while sliding doors can only open to the left or the right as much as their frames will allow.
  • Ventilation – Because French doors enable the homeowner to open both doors fully, they allow excellent ventilation. With both door panels operable, you can open either door to let in as much or as little breeze as you’d like.

Disadvantages:

  • Space Issue/Blocks Views –
    • While French doors boast more ease of access and ventilation, some of them require wood used for load bearing in the direct center of the opening, inhibiting view and ability to move things in or out of the house.
    • They also have wider panels on all sides thus having less glass viewing space.
    • French doors swing into the room where they are installed so furniture cannot be placed next to them. French Doors can be quite inconvenient in smaller spaces where the swing diameter will interfere with furniture or ingress/egress. We hear homeowners complain a lot about this issue with French Doors as they have to move furniture to open their door! Not only is this annoying but they can’t open the door wide enough to allow for fresh air. Some homeowners prefer a sliding patio door as it does not require any living space to accommodate opening and closing.
  • Mechanical Issues –
    • The hinges on the French doors tend to have problems over time and will eventually require service while the sliding rollers have a much longer lifespan. With French doors, there is a lot of weight on those hinges. They often times need adjustment. Because of this the French door can eventually become difficult to open and close – basically becomes a challenge to operate – because of the weight of the door.
    • Another reason for Sliders over French is the ease of adjustment when the opening becomes out of square due to the house settling. Since we work in many older homes we see this a lot as well.
    • French doors cannot be made of vinyl due to the fact that the door swings. Vinyl cannot support the weight of the glass and will eventually sag. Wood is typically the material used and can be a maintenance concern for many homeowners.
  • Poor Energy Efficiency Ratings- The area where French doors join together at the center is susceptible to air and water leakage. Sliding doors overlap which is a more efficient design and creates a tighter seal where as French doors come together with no overlap and an increased chance for air infiltration. Also as winds blows against a French door, it tends to bow thus causing additional air leakage.
  • More expensive- French doors are generally more expensive than sliding patio doors as well.

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