French Doors versus Sliding Doors – The Pros & Cons of Each

French Doors versus Sliding Doors – The Pros & Cons of Each

September 17, 2018
By:
Martin Whitmore, President of US Window & Door
French Doors vs Sliding Glass Doors

Choosing a new patio door shouldn’t have to be a difficult process. Based on your personal preference and the size of the door, there will be several options suitable to every home. Beyond the look, there is a few other things to think about when deciding on a new patio door for your home.

The style of your home may be one deciding factor for the type of door you choose. A more contemporary home, for example, may have more aesthetic value with a sliding glass door. Traditional homes such as cabins and farmhouses often choose French doors to better match the aesthetic.

If you’ve been trying to figure out the pros and cons of French doors vs sliding glass doors, then you’re in the right place. Here, we’re covering all the reasons why you should, or maybe shouldn’t install a sliding door versus a french door. Beyond style, we don’t forget to consider the energy efficiency of French doors vs. sliding glass doors. Keep reading to learn more.

French Patio Doors

French patio doors are also known as hinged patio doors or swinging patio doors. They consist of two doors that open from the center. They are unique in that you can open them inwardly or outwardly.

French patio doors are typically found in more traditional home styles due to their historical place in home design.

essence french patio door

French doors originated in France in the 17th century to allow more light to come in from balcony entrances.

While they have many uses today, architects and home builders turn to French doors to create a bright, spacious, and historical feel.

French Doors vs Sliding Doors

Operability

The easier a door is to operate, the better. This is true not only for emergencies but also for times when you have company. Generally speaking, both French doors and sliding doors should be swift to open without hassle. If your doors are stiff, it may be time to order a replacement doors.

Making a final decision on French doors vs sliding doors is ultimately up to you. However, based on your location and the way your home functions, there may be a clear best option. Here’s an outline of some things that you should ask yourself before choosing a French door over a sliding patio door to avoid regretting your decision.

French Doors

French doors operate such as a common exterior door. Two doors connect in the middle and either swing in or out depending on your preference at installation. Typically, people commonly use one of the two doors as an entryway.

Pros

French doors are light and easy to open. The operation method is recognizable as they hang on hinges and swing such as a standard door.

Cons

Hinges must be maintained or they may become stiff and noisy and difficult to operate. Also, beware of the wind for French Doors with an outward opening. The wind can pull the user and cause injury and damage to the door. If you live in a windy location, it may be best to ditch the French door and choose the sliding glass door.

Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors are on tracks and open in a back and forth position. The opening for a sliding glass door is just larger than a standard entryway.

Pros

Sliding glass doors offer a massive viewport when the door is closed, bringing in more light than the traditional French door. They are easy to operate on their tracks and typically cause little to no hassle for the user.

Cons

Sliding door tracks may become filled with dirt or debris which can cause the doors to be very difficult to open and close. Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to keep your doors functioning properly at all times.

Cost

The cost of French doors vs sliding doors is comparable. This is another reason why it boils down to your preference when deciding between one or the other. Of course, there are added costs for different features that you may choose which will factor into your final overall cost.

French Doors

You can contact US Window & Door for exact prices when shopping for French doors or sliding doors. A standard French door set includes two doors with a hinged installation. The windows will have double glazing, and the price will be determined based on the door you choose.

Sliding Glass Doors

The most important thing to remember with sliding glass doors is that the more panels you want, the higher the price point. A standard, base model, two-panel sliding glass door runs about $100 more than a standard French door installation. However, ornate French doors can often cost far in excess of a sliding glass door.

Design

The aesthetics of the doors you choose will make a difference in how much you enjoy them. Durability and security are important, but if things don’t look right, it’s all wrong. Certain types of homes do better to display French doors vs sliding doors depending on the location, major uses of the home, and the preference of the homeowner.

French Doors

French doors lock into the frame and the floor so you can rest assured that they won’t easily be broken into. You can also choose from a variety of locking mechanisms for the main door handle to further secure your residence. Modern French doors have tight seals and are energy efficient.

Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors can be locked and secured from the inside so that intruders simply cannot open them. The only drawback to sliding glass doors is whether or not they’re shatter proof. Triple glazing will help this effect.

Security

Of course, you should and will be concerned about the security of different types of doors for your patio as this will be an entryway to your home. Both sliding glass doors and French doors have their own pros and cons for safety. However, if exterior safety is a major concern, you should not compare French doors vs sliding doors as they are both susceptible to damage from motivated criminals. For most neighborhoods in San Diego, both French doors and sliding patio doors are plenty secure.

French Doors

French doors are often incorporated into more traditional home designs such as townhomes, country homes, and those homes with more heritage aesthetics. They are considered a timeless installation that contributes to an organized space.

Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors fit best in contemporary designs. They are modern and chic creating a streamlined look to your home’s facade. These doors are best suited in homes without children or pets.

Pros of French Doors vs Sliding Doors

♦ Classic Design and Versatility

If your home style is classical, cottage, traditional, or rustic, French doors provide a timeless addition to your overall look. A French door frame is more traditional than the see-through sliding glass door frame.

They also are versatile in their design. French doors are not only designed for luxurious homes, although there are luxury options to choose from. There are French doors available for most budgets. Customers can find French doors in laid-back and rustic styles, too.

Since French doors are standard doors with glass, they come in virtually any type of material and colors. You can also find them with traditional or modern window styles.

Historically, French doors are made up of mullioned windows, which look like multiple small windows panes. Today, manufacturers make the door with one single large pane on each door. This style is popular for allowing in more light with increased energy efficiency and comes in various glass styles and designs.

♦ Inward and Outward Opening

As mentioned earlier, you can open French doors outwardly or inwardly. This provides an exceptional advantage to other door options, as you can decide which way to open the door based on which way you are entering.

Compared to a single sliding door, a double French doors makes things wonderful easily when moving large objects to or from the interior of the house.

♦  Prettier Handles

The prettiness of handles may seem petty, but it’s true. When it comes to French doors vs sliding doors, French doors have better door handle options. Whether you want a knobs or handles, you can find almost any design to fit your exterior French doors. The better and broader diversity of options allows customers to design their doors to their liking and home style.

♦ Save on Your Energy Bill

Both types of doors can be opened up to allow a fresh breeze into the space. Using natural airflow can help reduce heating or cooling bills.

However, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, French exterior doors have a tighter seal when compared to sliding doors. This tighter seal means French doors are more energy efficient when the temperatures are too warm or cold outside.

Thus, while they may cost more initially, energy efficient French doors could ultimately save you money.

Cons of French Doors vs Sliding Doors

♦ Cost

French doors vs sliding doors– which one costs more money? While the cost will depend on installation labor and door style, French patio doors typically cost more than exterior sliding doors.

♦ Space

Between French doors vs sliding doors, French doors take up more space than sliding glass doors. The space issue can become a problem for those who are not able to renovate their entryway to provide enough space for French exterior doors. If the room already has little wall space, consider the room design before deciding on French patio doors.

Also, swinging doors means that French doors themselves need to have ample room to open vs sliding doors. If your room does not have a lot of space, this could create limitations for furniture placement without obstructing the door openings.

♦ Weather

French doors have to open and close inward or outward. In areas of high winds, leaving doors open may be difficult and could lead to damage.

Also, geographic places that get a lot of snow may not be the best place to have French doors vs sliding doors. The snow could become a blockade to opening the door to the outside. It can also quickly come inside the house if you open your swinging door inward.

essence sliding glass patio door

Sliding patio doors are just as the name entails. They consist of two-paneled glass doors that slide open and close from left to right or vice versa.

Sometimes, only one glass door slides open while the other remains stable. However, some designs allow for both doors to open, providing a spacious opening to the outdoors. These are called pocket doors.

Sliding patio doors are also called gliding doors or sliding glass doors.

Most come with a sliding screen door as well, allowing the doors to be left open without worrying about bugs or weather. When comparing sliding doors vs French doors, the ability to have a screen can be a major factor in choosing a sliding door over a French door.

Sliding exterior doors are much newer in western design when compared to French doors. However, they are modeled after traditional Japanese architecture which features sliding panel doors called Shoji and Fusuma.

They became popular among hotels, ranch houses, and apartments around the 1950’s.

Pros of Sliding Doors vs. French Doors

♦ Less Space

Sliding doors take up and need less space when compared to French doors. They don’t have doors to swing open, meaning there is more space left for the room design and furniture placement.

It also means more room outdoors for items such as plants and patio furniture. Sliding doors also have narrower door frames. Thus, they don’t take as much space architecturally.

♦ Modern Designs and Versatility

When it comes to french doors vs sliding doors, sliding doors have a more modern design. If your home is anything but traditional, sliding glass doors are for you. These are the most popular option for city homes and apartments, especially those of urban and modern styles.

However, sliding doors do not have to go against tradition. Manufacturers are now creating gliding doors that look like French doors so customers can have the best of both worlds.

Like French doors, there are many designs to be found among sliding patio doors. These include different frame materials and colors, various glass designs, and diverse privacy options to go along with the doors.

♦ Cheaper and Convenient

Again, the cost will be determined based on material, glass type, and size of the door chosen. Generally, sliding doors are cheaper than French doors.

When it comes to French doors vs sliding doors, sliding can be more convenient than swinging open. The convenience of a sliding door is especially true for letting guests or pets in or out of the home.

Also, sliding doors are more convenient for different types of weather. Snow or wind do not block them. However, sliding doors are not as energy efficient as French doors.

♦ More Light

Since sliding doors look like one large glass piece. The minimal frame dividing the two panels as well as along the outsides of the door allows more light exposure.

The views of the outdoors are unobstructed, and the space will feel larger with a sliding glass door vs. a French door.

Cons of Sliding Doors vs. French Doors

♦ Track

A considerable difference between french doors vs sliding doors is the track involved with sliding doors.

The sliding track deters many people from choosing the sliding door, instead choosing another door option. The track can be unattractive in appearance. Also, often one has to step over the track to prevent stubbing the foot or tripping.

While tracks are made more and more hassle-free, it is something to consider for those who prefer to walk barefoot or have young children crawling or running around.

♦ Less Energy Efficient

Sliding doors are known for one disadvantage in particular– not being energy efficient. Since sliding doors are primarily made of only glass, they lose more heat than other types of exterior doors. Glass paired with the looser seals provide less insulation.

However, you can find higher-quality options that are made of several glass layers (also known as window glazing) and metal frames with thermal breaks.

♦ Less Variety in Accents

Sliding doors must have particular handles that make opening the door natural and not awkward for the wrist. Therefore, there are much fewer options to choose from compared to the traditional door handles featured on the French door.

Which Patio Door Will You Choose?

French doors vs sliding doors…both of these exterior door styles have their benefits and disadvantages. Your decision will come down to look, space, and use, and personal preference.

Whichever option you choose between french doors vs sliding doors, we have a patio door to fit your needs and preferences. At US Window & Door, our products are made with the highest-quality materials and can be custom designed. We include free installation as well.

Contact us today to get a free estimate and start the process to your new dream patio door.

Final Thoughts

One last factor to weigh in on when considering French doors vs sliding glass doors is how the doors will perform in terms of energy efficiency for your home. Many homeowners believe French doors to be more energy efficient with smaller glass panels set into wider frames. French doors seal better than sliding glass doors, and have a slightly better energy efficient rating. However, both modern French doors and modern sliding doors have high quality seals compared to your old door.

If French doors are not your thing and you want sliding glass doors, you can opt for double or even triple glazing to further increase energy. Of course, it will cost you more up front for this option, but may end up saving you money in the long run.

Whether you’ve made your decision and you’re ready to install new doors or you have questions about French doors vs sliding doors, feel free to contact us! We’ve been serving Carlsbad and San Diego for over thirty years.