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How to Choose the Right French Doors

When it comes to interior design, your mind tends to go to a few classic aspects. Wall colour, soft furnishing patterns and furniture style will probably flicker through your thoughts. Maybe you’ll even spare a moment for your flooring.

One design aspect that is usually forgotten is the doors. Perhaps it’s because they’re a necessity. Or the design options are limited. Whatever the reason, we often don’t think about finding the right doors to suit our space.

This is a big mistake.

Carefully chosen doors can have just as much design impact as your wallpaper, curtains and ornaments. There is a plethora of styles to choose from, enough to match any design vibe for your house.

One such style is French doors (sometimes called French windows.) This is a set of hinged doors that are usually hung in pairs and have an attractive frame set around glass panels. You can have multiple small panels of glass, or fewer, bigger, panels. But, one of the defining features of French doors is the high percentage of glass coverage.

French doors, believe it or not, originated in France around the 17th Century. Built in the days before electricity, they were designed to allow as much light into a room as possible. Today, they are available in a whole range of styles, and made from materials, including hardwood, metal and uPVC. This versatility of design is a fantastic feature of French doors. But, for some, it can be intimidating to have so much choice, and impossible to know which French doors are best.

That’s why we’ve put together this external French door buying guide. Highlighting why French doors are such a popular choice, and sharing advice on how to choose external French doors for your home. We’ll even try to tackle the thorny question of exactly which French doors are best.

Why Choose French Doors?

If your home has a traditional farmhouse or country cottage vibe, the benefits of French doors are obvious. The mix of timber and glass, and rustic design style, make them the perfect choice for this type of décor. They’ll suit your space so brilliantly, it’s not really a choice at all. But these days, French doors come in a wide variety of designs. You can find a pair to suit any interior, and exterior, style.

There are so many reasons why French doors are the ultimate external door choice. For a start, they lighten and brighten any space they’re installed in. Those big broad panels of glass let sunlight soak into any room. Even in the chill of winter, any time the sun peeks out you’ll reap the benefits. Sunlight will flood through the doors, warming the room and lifting your mood.

But it’s when hot summer days roll round that French doors truly prove their worth. This is when you open the doors wide and welcome the fresh summer air into your house. French doors break down the barrier between inside and outside, and turn your house and garden into one light, bright, beautiful space.

This wonderful visual and lifestyle impact means that French doors often add value to any property. This helps make them a cost-effective choice, particularly when you consider that they are very energy-efficient as well. In fact, they’re just as good at shutting out cold drafts as they are at letting in the warm summer air.

Which French Doors Are Best?

Versatile, durable and stunning to look at, it’s easy to see why French doors are a popular choice for external doors to gardens and patios.

But while the choice of what type of door is so clear, it gets a little hazier when it comes to which style of French door to choose. As we’ve discussed above, they are available in a wide range of styles. For modern, minimalist decors there are clean cut metal frames with multiple panes of glass. For a more traditional, farmhouse feel, there are wooden frames with contouring. Then there’s the classic, simple broad frame and single pane of glass style!

It’s no wonder so many people are confused about how to choose the right French doors or which French doors are best. Especially as style and design is only one of the aspects you need to consider in your choice.

Here are some other factors you should factor in how to choose French doors:

Frame Material

Like all doors, French doors can be made from a range of materials:

●        uPVC or solid core doors with a vinyl coating

This material is a common choice, not least because it tends to be the most inexpensive. It’s completely weatherproof, durable and doesn’t take much effort in the way of upkeep. Even if the doors get dirty, they’re very easy to clean, and are hard to damage or permanently mark.

The only real drawback for uPVC is the look. Their plain, plasticky appearance will not be to everyone’s taste and when you’ve decided to invest in a new set of doors, you want something that looks amazing.

●        Metal

Aluminium doors have got a great distinctive look that will appeal to people seeking a more modern look. Make sure the doors come with an anti-corrosion and scratch proof coating and they should last well, staying smart for the duration of their life.

The thing about metal doors is the noise. Any rain that bounces off these doors will echo, loudly.

●        Wood

For many people, wooden doors are the obvious choice. They are visually stunning, sitting with modern and traditional styles equally well. Most wooden door frames are laminated, meaning they can withstand extreme weather without damage or warping. It’s also the quietest option, and a great insulator, ensuring that wood is as practical as it is attractive.

In fact, the only real downside of wood is the cost, though that may seem less of an issue if you want your doors to look good and to last.

Sizing

If your entryway is bigger than the standard double-door set-up, you will need to look for doors that can be bracketed by windows as well. This has the wonderful benefit of allowing yet more light into your space. And with quality windows it shouldn’t make a significant impact on the thermal efficiency of the doors. It will however affect the cost, especially if the opening is an awkward size and you need a bespoke design that is made-to-measure.

If you need help planning for your French doors, see our post on measuring French doors.

Security Options

One thing you definitely need to consider when choosing French doors is the security. The combination of two doors, and large proportion of glass leaves the potential for them to be a security risk, if you aren’t paying attention to what you buy. Instead you should seek out doors with a multi-point locking system, and floor bolts to add extra security to the doors when they’re closed. For more information about this, visit our post on the security of French doors.

You’ll also need to make sure that the glass panels of your door use toughened, laminated or tempered glass. This won’t just make them harder to break and more secure. It will also ensure that, if the worst should happen, the door will break in a safe way, without leaving any sharp or dangerous edges exposed. This will be a particular concern if you have a family to consider.

Are External French Doors Expensive?

The final consideration you may want to make before purchasing is about how much external French doors cost.

All the factors we’ve discussed above will impact on the question of what French doors cost. If you want beautiful wooden French doors, to fit a large aperture and with highly secure locks, they probably won’t come cheap. As an alternative, sliding doors could well be a cheaper option.

As an initial outlay, French doors might not be the most inexpensive option. However, if you buy an energy-efficient set of French doors, over their lifetime you may make a significant saving compared to sliding or bi-fold doors.

When it comes to how much French doors cost, a better question to ask is: are French doors worth the money? The only person who can answer that is you. But, if you ask us, the feeling for freedom you can have with your doors thrown wide, the way the world is welcomed into your home and the way this can lift your mood, is a lifestyle investment and worth every penny.

Conclusion

French doors can make a decisive design choice out of an otherwise functional item. We hope this post has helped show you how to choose the right French doors to ensure you get doors as usable, durable and efficient as they are attractive.