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Interior & Exterior French Doors

French doors, as shown in Figure 1, are not just a replacement for sliding glass doors nor are French doors always configured in twos. A French door is simply an interior or exterior door that has glass from the top to the bottom and from side to side, mounted in a frame. In some cases the glass is multi pane, but in all cases it is, for all intent purposes, a glass door with a frame.

Interior French bifold doors
Figure 1 - Interior French bifold doors

French doors are available as bifold, as shown in Figure 1, interior single, as shown in Figure 2, and double, as shown in Figure 3, exterior single, as shown in Figure 4, and double hung, as shown in Figure 5, bypass or sliding, as shown in Figure 6, and pocket doors, as shown in Figure 7.

Interior single French door
Figure 2 - Interior single French door
Interior double French doors
Figure 3 - Interior double French doors
Exterior single French door
Figure 4 - Exterior single French door
Exterior double French doors
Figure 5 - Exterior double French doors
Bypass or sliding French door
Figure 6 - Bypass or sliding French door
Pocket French doors
Figure 7 - Pocket French doors

The biggest advantage to using a French door is that it allows a great deal of light to enter the room. If used on the exterior of the home it has a equal light enhancing affect in the room as does a picture window.

The second advantage is on as an interior door. It makes the room feel larger, as the size of the room appears to take in the area on the opposite side of the door, while still affording some sense of privacy.

Aesthetically they add to almost any decor and make a wonderful first impression for guests.

As with most things nothing is perfect and there are some disadvantages to French doors.

  • When used as exterior doors they may be considered a security risk. No matter how good the lock set is that is mounted on the door, it takes little to break the glass and enter the home.
  • Glass is not one of the better insulators and because of that, energy efficient French doors are expensive.
  • Because glass is heavy, French doors require quality hinge and roller hardware. Even as an internal door it is common to use 3 exterior door hinges to hold the door in position.
  • As an interior door many people believe that they pose a safety hazard. The glass used on interior doors is thinner than that used on an exterior door and there is concern that if someone falls into it or if children are playing rambunctiously that the glass can be easily broken.
  • Window coverings can present a problem with exterior doors, especially with clear glass. If the clear glass is covered or if a window film is used, it affects the original look and feel that the French doors were providing in the first place.
  • French doors are not inexpensive. The frame in a French door is the structural strength of the door, which is unlike a normal door where the panels are a large portion of the structural integrity of the door. A French door must be constructed so that it does not sag or twist out of shape while holding the weight of the glass.