French doors are a great way to let light into a room. For rooms that are naturally dull – perhaps there are only small windows in the room – installing French doors can change things considerably. They are also an attractive feature. French doors come in various styles and materials, and we want to have a look at the different options you may have for your French doors.
Before we go on, we recommend you have a look at this website - Mikita Door and Window - as they offer a wide range of different styles of French doors that should give you a good idea of what they are all about. We will start by looking at the different materials used to make French door frames and fittings, and their benefits and drawbacks.
uPVC French Doors
If you buy a modern or new-build home that has French doors installed the chances are they will be the uPVC type. This material is affordable, durable, and can be manufactured in a variety of colours. Usually, uPVC doors are white or sometimes brown.
The long life of uPVC is one bonus, but bear in mind they cannot be painted. While not the most attractive option, this choice is one that makes sense on a more modern home but may look out of place on a traditional building, so let us have a look at wooden French doors.
Wooden French Doors
The natural look of wood is something that lends itself beautifully to French doors. A wooden frame, if treated and maintained correctly, will last for many years. However, the fact remains that with wood as an external fitting you will need to paint it and add protection every few years. Wood suffers not just from wind, rain, and snow, but also from the sun. Wood looks superb on any home – modern or traditional – but will be a more expensive option than the other two.
Aluminium French Doors
Aluminium is a lightweight yet durable material that is increasingly being used in items such as French doors. However, it is not as attractive as wood, and once again does not take paint very well. Aluminium French doors look great in both new and older homes, and they will last a long time. They are also more energy-efficient than wood, which while ‘green’ is not the greatest at dealing with energy loss.
So, you have your choices: uPVC, wood, or aluminium French doors. Now we need to look at some of the different designs.
Outward-Opening French Doors
French doors usually consist of a double door hinged in the middle with the doors opening outwards onto a patio or garden. This is the most traditional style of French doors, and they are available in all the materials we mention above. The advantage of opening outwards is that you do not use any valuable space in the house.
However, some homeowners prefer the doors to open inwards.
Inward-Opening French Doors
French doors that open inwards – i.e., the two doors swing back into the room – are not unusual and are favored by many customers. The sole problem with this design is that the doors need to have clearance in the room, so that space cannot be used to place -for example – a chair in the light that is streaming into the room. That is why our next style of French doors may just be the most popular of all.
Sliding French Doors
Sliding French doors are a great choice if you don’t want to take up space immediately outside or inside the doors. However, they do come with an inherent problem: they need runners the size of the door either side of the glass frontage to be able to open.
This area will have to be kept clear of furnishings, and the walls free of pictures or mirrors. Some more sophisticated French doors slide into the wall cavity. This is a more expensive design than the traditional sliding door choice, and one that is best installed when building as they are difficult to retrofit. Next, we want to think about French doors that are wider than the norm.
Extended French Doors
Think of French doors and we think of a double panel of glass – two doors together. Yet there are now systems that can be fitted that create what is in effect a full glass wall. These can be opened along their entire length and the method used is usually a concertina design, in other words they fold against each other at either side.
Some of these systems offer variable opening methods, whereby the doors can be opened inwards or outwards – or, in occasionally custom designs and new builds – upwards toward the ceiling.
Upward-Opening French Doors
A modern and sophisticated – albeit quite expensive – method of French doors opening systems is the one in which the door slides upwards. Imagine a glass version of a traditional garage door.
There are advantages to this rare yet feasible method – it is ceiling space that is used, rather than wall space – but it is definitely one for the specialist architect designed home. However, if you are thinking of building your own, we strongly recommend you spend some time researching the different types of French doors as you may be surprised at the many options and choices available.
So, which type and what material is the right one for your French door installation? Let us finish with a brief summary.
French doors will always add something to a home and not just in terms of looks. They are also practical, and the modern examples come with sophisticated, high-quality locks for added security. Whether you are putting one alongside your patio or simply as another entrance to your home there is plenty of choice, and there are examples to suit any budget.
We recommend that you have a look at the website we mentioned earlier on for inspiration, and then talk to a local French door installer who will advise on the best choice for your home.