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French doors vs. sliding doors: which is the winner?

Amy Buxton Amy Buxton
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When it comes to deciding which type of patio door you want to install in your home, you can feel a little spoilt for choice, but we always think that a more classic approach is best. Offering you the guarantee of an aesthetic that will never date, opting for either French doors or sliding doors will really add to the rear facade of your home, while also giving you the all-important easy access to your patio that you crave. 

Naturally, you'll need to enlist the services of a top patio door manufacturer and you can discover a slew of them in the homify professionals directory, but before you do, why not find out as much as you can about the two most popular styles of patio doors, so you are a little closer to knowing what you want? We think this might even get you thinking about your interior doors as well, but one thing at a time! French doors or sliding doors? That really is the question today.

French doors vs sliding doors: operability.

When selecting your new patio doors, how easy they are to use should be a top priority. For your convenience, we've listed some pros and cons of both a French patio door and a sliding patio door.

French:
Pros—Recognisable operation method, as they are hung on hinges and swing either inside or outside, depending on your choice. Light and easy to open, as the hinges take all of the strain.

Cons—If the hinges are not maintained, they can be noisy and a little stiff to operate. If the wind catches an outward-opening French door, it can pull the user with it.

Sliding:
Pros—Very light and easy to operate, as the doors run along a guided track and support the entire weight. Good for people with little arm strength.

Cons—If the tracks become damaged or filled with dirt, the doors can be very hard to open. Regular maintenance and cleaning will be essential.

Sliding vs French doors: price.

The cost of installing exterior patio doors will always play a deciding role in which style is finally chosen, but you might be surprised to know that there is very little difference between French and sliding door starting prices. Of course, there will be a seemingly unending list of factors that can affect the final cost, from choice of hardware through to materials used and glazing styles, but as a rough guide, we have looked at what you can expect to pay for a base model white uPVC example of both French and sliding patio doors.

French: For a simple two-door hinged installation, you should expect prices to start at around $600. This will include standard double glazing, a stubby sill and no optional extras.

Sliding: A base model two-panel sliding door installation will set you back anything from $700, upwards. Don;t forget that the more panels you want, the higher the price.

French doors vs sliding doors: energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency is an issue that is becoming more and more pertinent today and as such, most homeowners are looking for ways to decrease their monthly outgoings, through improved home heating measures. A prime way to do so is to look at the glazing styles that are being installed and that must necessarily include patio door styles. 

French patio doors can be considered a little more energy efficient, as the central glass panels can be smaller, by being set into wider frames, whereas sliding doors are almost exclusively created from glazed panels. Although, don;t forget that they meet in the middle and can let air in! However, there is a way to negate either style from being better than the other; by choosing more efficient glass. Gone are the days when double glazing was the only option available, as now, triple glazing and even sound-proofed glass styles are very popular, thanks to increasing the energy efficiency of a space no end. Be aware that these options will contribute to a higher purchase price though.

Sliding vs French doors: space.

White Shaker Kitchen with Island: classic Kitchen by Main Line Kitchen Design
Main Line Kitchen Design

White Shaker Kitchen with Island

Main Line Kitchen Design

Given that both French and sliding patio door styles are beautiful and easy to operate, while also being capable of exemplar energy efficiency, perhaps it comes down to design attributes to differentiate between them. A key consideration for many people, especially those in more modest properties, will be how much space different patio doors require to be fitted. It is this factor that really does separate French and sliding patio doors.

French: French patio doors usually have a much wider frame, as they need to accommodate hinges and the swing-out space needed by the doors themselves. If the doors open inwards, they can be quite inconvenient and, depending on how much glazing is installed, they can look as though they take up even more space than they do in reality, thanks to a semi-solid aesthetic.

Sliding: Due to a sleek one-track operating mechanism, sliding patio doors need far less space than French doors and as such, are very popular with people who have a less expansive area to update. As an added bonus, more light tends to flow into a home with sliding door installed, as thinner frames are possible.

French doors vs sliding doors: security.

Security of exterior doors is always a major concern, as there is little point in installing beautiful doors that will make break-ins easy. In the case of patio doors, security needs to be a top priority, if for no other reason than they will include a lot of glass and could lead to serious vulnerability. Both French and sliding styles of patio doors have their own advantages and disadvantages, in terms of securing a home, which we've listed below.

French doors security: Generally considered to be fairly good, as one door is locked into place, either into the frame or the floor, to form a secure installation for the other to be locked to as well. You can choose a variety of locking mechanisms, including insurance-recommended five point mortice designs. The glass panes can be easy to break, however, if a plain panel is chosen.

Sliding doors security: Thought to be even better than French doors in terms of security due to all panels being fixed to one sliding rail. There isn't a 'weak' spot, as the whole installation is one secure unit, which can only be opened from the inside. There is the element of breakable glass to consider, but if triple glazing is used, it will be incredibly hard to shatter.

sliding vs french doors: design.

modern Living room by Dab Den Ltd
Dab Den Ltd

Pocket sliding door

Dab Den Ltd

Finally, let's look at the aesthetic elements of each patio door option. Given how different French and sliding doors are from each other, they definitely appeal to specific people with particular property styles.

French doors: Great for more traditional homes, especially those that capture more heritage aesthetics. From country homes through to traditional townhouses, French doors offer a beautiful and timeless installation style that will really contribute to a cohesive look.

Sliding doors: Best suited to homes that have an overall contemporary look. Given how modern and unfussy sliding doors look, they will really stick out, if installed in a traditional property. As part of a new build, however, they will simply integrate into and emphasize a more streamlined look.

For more patio door inspiration, be sure to check out the homify doors and sliding doors pages.  

Do you know which style of patio door would be best for your home?
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