When choosing doors for your home, there are various options available such as hinged, sliding, folding, or stacking doors. Each type has its own advantages and can be suitable for the same door opening sizes. Therefore, when talking about exterior French doors, we will compare them to the other patio door options.
The ongoing popularity of heritage or Crittall style doors and windows is driving the current interest in French doors. However, aluminium French doors can offer modern advantages like energy-efficiency and security over the traditional steel or timber versions.
When to choose French doors over the alternatives
First of all your choice between French doors, sliding doors or bifolding doors depends on your project. Are you replacing an existing set of doors for something more modern or building a new opening?
Naturally for the latter, there’s more flexibility as you get to choose how large the opening is and size can also influence the choice of sliding doors or bifolding doors. For an existing opening, you’re limited by the size you have.
There are other considerations such as the sightlines you’d prefer, whether you want to reduce the visible aluminium and maximise the glass. Of course, patio doors also mean enjoying warmer days better and having these open up in the right way, connecting your room to the garden, patio or balcony. However, with your doors closed for most of the year, do the views and light you get from a closed set of doors matter more?
Your other consideration with choosing between French doors, sliding or bifold doors is how these are used day-to-day. For instance, if you live in a home with only one patio door, functionality becomes more important than in a larger home with more than one door on the ground floor.
Choosing French doors for an existing opening
Replacing your old patio doors? The size of your structural opening isn’t too restrictive these days as French doors, sliding doors or bifolding doors come in configurations for smaller doorways. So let’s take a look at the options for an existing opening.
For door openings up to two metres
If your door opening size is around two metres or slightly more, then your best choice is French doors. Any size under 2m wide is best with French doors. From 2m wide to 2.5m wide, French doors with one or two sidelights are best.
For door openings over two metres
Double doors with one or two side panels work best for openings between two and four metres. And if you go with any of the steel-inspired double-door products, these look slim and on-trend.
For larger door openings over four metres
Larger existing or new apertures extend your options to having more than one double door set or a combination of double or single doors with side panels. A good installer can help you design the most suitable option, letting you choose where you place your doors and which door set to open, depending on your requirements.
Four reasons to buy aluminium French doors
You’ll get a reliable, secure and weather-resistant door whether you go with aluminium, PVCu, timber or even hybrid doors combining two materials. However, aluminium beats all these materials in four significant areas.
If you are considering PVCu, timber or composite materials, we’ve create a helpful guide on choosing the most suitable door.
1. You get slimmer frame lines
When it comes to what doors are the slimmest, it’s hard to beat aluminium. PVCu is always thicker as it needs this bulk for strength and security. Timber is a wonderful natural material but this too is usually thicker than any standard aluminium patio door set.
So if reducing the visible sightlines of essential frame profiles matters, aluminium is the slimmest when choosing French, sliding, or bifolding doors. Choose a fully glazed steel look door, and you benefit from the thinnest frame lines on French doors.
2. Larger doors, more glass and more light
Aluminium doors typically provide larger door leaf sizes than PVCu and timber doors. Most other materials give you door sizes of around 850mm – 900mm. Aluminium doors go well over 1m width with most systems.
It’s the same for the heights. For most 2300mm or taller openings, other doors mean you need a glazed light above them. Choose the right aluminium door and it’ll comfortably cover this height. The benefit is fewer aluminium profiles, larger glass sizes, more light and better views.
3. You can match other aluminium doors
What you might not know is that aluminium is the best solution for matching French doors and bifolding doors.
You may have a larger extension with bifolding doors for your living area and a nearby study or dining room also leading to the garden. It’s possible to make single doors or French doors out of the same profiles as bifolding doors. The benefit therefore is matching doors where you need these three different types.
4. More choice of designs with aluminium
Aluminium doors come with a substantial choice of colours, including different colours inside and out, aluminium outside and wood inside and the latest, textured or metallic colours, not available with PVCu doors.
French Patio Door Configurations
Single and double doors are the most common types, opening in or out and especially suitable for smaller or standard structural openings. Aluminium doors are better for larger openings because aluminium allows wider and taller door leaves than is possible with PVCu doors.
Aluminium doors are typically available at door leaf sites of 1260mm wide for a single door and at least 2460mm wide for French doors, depending on the brand you go with. The same applies to door heights. Aluminium doors again come taller than PVCu doors, often up to 2400mm high. The benefit is a larger door, negating the need and the additional cost of a toplight. Some other doors can also be built taller than this if needed.
French doors with most quality systems will meet high security using multipoint locking, and many have passed the latest PAS024 security tests and Secured by Design. Despite their thin profiles, aluminium doors are safe, secure and weather-resistant.
Most aluminium door brands come with an option of a standard threshold or a low version, ideal for wheelchair users or prams and with a less prominent stepover.
The final advantage of French doors is providing key access from outside, a feature also available with bifolds, but rarely with sliding doors.
Reasons to choose a French Door
French doors are ideal for smaller, standard or large openings. They integrate well into a new extension or house. They are the most affordable option for new patio doors compared to the price of a bifold or a sliding door. This style of patio door also works better in character properties.
- They are familiar to use for young and old.
- French doors allow you to use your doors as access doors from outside.
- These doors come in the best Art-Deco or steel look style.
- A transformation when replacing thick chunky PVCu French Doors.
Ultimately your choice of the best patio door depends on budget, personal taste and the overall look you want to achieve. French doors today come in all types of frame styles and brands. Get in touch for more information and a local manufacturer, supplier or installer.