French doors for a patio

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.

french doors in an oak beam room kitchen extension
French doors provide one of the best and most affordable new doors.

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.

french doors in white at the back of a new extension

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.

steel look french doors in the art-deco style fully open leading to a path
French doors with side and top panels.

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.

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16:42 30 Oct 23
Nick responded incredibly quickly to my enquiry (on a Saturday too!), and was able to offer invaluable advice on both aluminum systems and manufacturer / suppliers. Thanks Nick!
chris steerchris steer
16:18 09 Oct 23
Had a meeting with Nick during the grand designs show. Was extremely helpful and professional would highly recommend
Chris WesthorpChris Westhorp
19:55 13 Sep 23
Extremely helpful with pointing us in the right direction to find the products we required and suggesting firms that could reliably fit them.Nick was quick to reply and very detailed in his advice.Highly recommend reaching out to them.
Cathy GreenwoodCathy Greenwood
07:03 11 Sep 23
Update - A second email to nick for help on bifolds resulted in a detailed informative reply even on a Sunday ! This guy is so knowledgable and helpful .I approached Nick for an independent view on sliding doors v bifold and the different brand options . His reply was extremely detailed and prompt and allowed me to navigate this often confusing world in a much more informed way . Thanks so much Nick
Anthony CraigAnthony Craig
12:45 05 Sep 23
This is a must site for anyone looking for advice. Great service and very quick answers to questions. Nick has been of great help quiding us through the maze of aluminium products. Thank you
Philip DuffieldPhilip Duffield
20:24 26 Jul 23
I contacted Nick @ ATS for guidance on what aluminium sliding door systems would be suitable for an opening in an extension that is going to be both wide and tall. He came back really quickly with very detailed and incredibly helpful advice. He is clearly extremely knowledgeable about the systems on the market and their respective features and capabilities. If you’re feeling a bit lost by the overwhelming range of choices out there, I’d definitely recommend contacting him.
Dariush HekmatDariush Hekmat
17:25 19 Jul 23
Nick's advice is great. He is always quick to respond and spends time on responses, which really help to make an informed decision.
Alan FosterAlan Foster
07:51 12 Jul 23
Absolutely fantastic. Asked for advice about replacing Crittall (?) windows late last night and early this morning received 3 great suggestions and contact information for suppliers
Rachel LauRachel Lau
09:24 16 Jun 23
Fantastic website full of valuable and pragmatic advice about product selection and comparison: no other website gives information like this. Truly written for public interest. Don't hesistate to reach out to Nick via the mailing system. He responds very quickly, is friendly, and has very sound and high knowledgable advice. I have already shared this with my friend planning her own grand design.
guard Charlieguard Charlie
12:28 14 May 23
I emailed this company just on the off chance they could help me with new magnetic sliders for my patio door. They were not able to supply those but were so very helpful providing me with the name of a company who could. I am so very grateful at the great service. Dare say customers must be very happy. thank you so much.
Benjamin LewisBenjamin Lewis
10:06 04 May 23
Nick is very helpful indeed. Extremely knowledgeable on bifolds which was in relation to my query. Great website as well, some very useful articles. Particularly appreciated the article that lists all the major bifold options in order of their sightlines! Thank you!
P JonesP Jones
08:07 15 Apr 23
I asked Nick some questions about an installation we were considering and he replied within hours with some very useful suggestions that will probably lead us to using a different make and supplier. Thanks, Nick. Great work.
Nicholas WallNicholas Wall
13:18 02 Apr 23
Looking for fair and honest expert advice on all aspect of aluminium windows and doors? These guys will arm you with all the information you need to make the RIGHT choice in a highly complex, crowded marketplace. post a question and you will get a very quick professional answer you can rely on being based on fact. Thanks guys!
Giorgia SiriacoGiorgia Siriaco
16:25 21 Mar 23
After a lot of research to find doors that would meet our unusual size requirements and feeling increasingly uncertain about the best way to spend our small budget, I stumbled on the ATS website, and I'm so glad I did! I contacted ATS to request advice and Nick promptly replied with a wealth of information, providing us with options and relevant contact details. I only wish I'd found them sooner!
Carol NortonCarol Norton
10:01 17 Mar 23
I've been so confused about how to achieve the look I'm after, and going round in circles with various window/door companies, trying to get away from the huge chunks of plastic currently around my windows. I didn't expect an email to a company found through a Google search to really help - but I was desperate, so I tried. I'm SO glad I did. Finally I have clear explanations from ATS of where I've been going wrong, exactly what I'm looking for, and a list of local companies that might be able to provide it! The response has excelled my expectations and I feel as if I'm finally inching closer to a home with which I'll be happy and comfortable: thank you.
David NunnDavid Nunn
20:54 14 Mar 23
It is rare that I write reviews, however after my very positive communication with Nick - enquiring about suitable slim sash aluminium windows for my project, I felt that a review was definitely warranted. I can reinforce the many positive reviews posted so far, Nick was very quick to respond, providing comprehensive detail, with excellent independent advice.In summary, great service, thank you Nick.
Chantal AuerbachChantal Auerbach
13:04 09 Mar 23
Nick from Aluminium Trade Supply was incredibly helpful informative and pleasant to deal with. He responded quickly to emails and was very knowledgeable. Highly recommend being in touch with Nick if you are considering new aluminium windows or doors.
Lee JonesLee Jones
20:21 22 Feb 23
I dropped Nick at Aluminium Trade Supply an email re high security slim sightline bi-folds and their alternatives and he responded that quickly (and so comprehensively) that I felt bad I’d not paid him for his time!Nick Sir your product knowledge is outstanding and you are providing a level of service that goes wayyyy above and beyond expectations. I’ll definitely make sure I mention Aluminium Trade Supply to anyone I encounter looking for a fenestration solution 🙏🏼
15:13 13 Feb 23
We are looking to replace some old UPVC patios doors with aluminium ones. The ATS website is a great source of advice in an area where clear information is sorely lacking. Having used the website, I then followed this up with a number of specific questions relating to our search, and Nick came back very quickly with clear, detailed and very useful advice.I have been very impressed with both the website and with Nick's advice. My only regret is that I didn't come across ATS before replacing various windows in 2021 - I'm sure it would have saved me a lot of grief and money! Thanks again Nick.
Azza McCabeAzza McCabe
17:47 01 Feb 23
So impressed with this company.Responded to my query quickly andgave valuable advice. Nick was extremely helpful and we were able to move forward with our project.
Adri LoloçiAdri Loloçi
11:21 08 Jan 23
Nick was super fast to respond and provided some great recommendations. I would recommend this website to anyone looking to find bifold or sliding aluminium doors.
Stephen HoustonStephen Houston
16:16 03 Jan 23
Looking for aluminium crittall style internal door and external patio French doors. Noted good reviews and thought would ask for advice. Comprehensive reply with excellent independent advice and lists of fitters who could provide products and installation. Great service.
Inga GeachInga Geach
08:25 21 Dec 22
Nick from Aluminium Trade Supply has been extremely helpful with navigating the jungle that is aluminium glazing for our upcoming extension project. His advice was prompt, detailed and always impartial. Very grateful for your input, thanks Nick!
Amanda BurtonAmanda Burton
10:54 16 Dec 22
Brilliant website and an excellent service. Nick provided not only detailed advice and supplier contacts, but highlighted the considerations of various products so I could make an informed choice. Our Sunvista minimal sliders were fitted this week and I couldn't be happier, stunning. Thanks once again for your advice and recommendations, invaluable!
Keith BarnesKeith Barnes
17:18 10 Dec 22
Very helpful advice given to my question, including the name of 3 different companies that i could try for the product being enquired about. Many thanks
Munim ChowdhuryMunim Chowdhury
11:45 13 Sep 22
Nick has been very helpful on signposting me to a number of partner organisations for steel/aluminium doors.
SUSAN wallaceSUSAN wallace
17:26 31 Aug 22
My experience with this firm was exceptionally good and this is notalways the case as a female, dipping a toe into technical waters.I was spoken too with courtesy and at a level that helped me consolidate what was needed .On top of that I was given a list of companies and places where I could obtain the type of product I needed.I could not thank them enough and would certainly go there again and reccommend others do too.
Paul SalterPaul Salter
22:39 22 Aug 22
Contacting Aluminium Trade Supply is like contacting the Oracle direct. Advice is always comprehensive and balanced. On multiple occasions they have provided me with options that fully meet our objectives. Many thanks.
Nick McCormackNick McCormack
20:25 14 Aug 22
Really helpful and useful came back to me on a Sunday with some invaluable information. Highly recommended.
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13:14 14 Aug 22
received a prompt reply to my query,and helpful information from ATS