A French Door consists of a frame around one or more transparent panels that may be installed in matching pairs or in a series. French doors typically use weather stripping at the floor level where the doors meet to prevent water ingress.
Before I go into the advantages and disadvantages of sliding vs French doors, I would like to point out a few important factors. First, be sure and check the materials used in the products you’re selecting. Wood may be prettier to some, but has very short life expectancy. Metal will last a long time, but is a much stronger conductor of heat and cold. It is also against code in most residential applications. Over the years, manufacturers have researched and designed a number of features, some of which I’m going to mention have led to great improvements in multiple structural design flaws. That being said, when shopping for products for your home, make sure to take a good look at the manufacturer and always use a reputable installer. You can buy the best doors in the world and still end up in a real tough spot if they aren’t installed properly.
Product wise, at Coastal Windows & Exteriors we use Soft-Lite as our exclusive window and sliding glass door manufacturer. Soft-Lite is the only door that is recommended through the National Crime Prevention Council and has won Energy Star Partner of the Year three years running. They take great care to provide homeowners with superior grade products offering unparalleled security and energy efficiency.
Comparison of French Doors and Sliding Glass Doors
- Ease of Operation – They are extremely user friendly and easy to operate because the entire weight of the sliding panel is supported by the track and require no more than a gentle nudge to move.
- Space-Saving – Because the doors slide along a parallel track, rather than open or close on a hinge, sliding doors require almost no space to be fully opened. This makes them an ideal option for homes with smaller spaces near entrances or homes where space is a commodity.
- Security – The security design is aimed at preventing both the fixed and operable doors from being lifted off their rails.
- Energy Efficiency – You should look for a door with Triple-Fin Weather-Stripping with antimicrobial protection that fights the growth of mold and bacteria. Also you want to find a door that has all their frames, rails and stiles with injected R-5 Comfort Foam which acts as the door’s thermal insulator around its exterior.
- Sliding doors also provide a more unobstructed view of the outdoors.
- Locking systems – Anti-lift blocks can be fixed to the top of the rails or a portable security bar can be fitted from the inside to prevent sliding action when the door is closed. We find both these options cumbersome and inevitably sacrifice beauty so we decided to go with Soft-Lite as they offer a patented 2 point locking system. This design prevents any break-ins as it locks the door into the jamb. Our door also has a TowBolt or ThumbBolt which are effective vent-stops from preventing the door form opening more than 3” while still allowing some added ventilation.
The French Doors make up in ease of access what they lack in space saving. While French Doors require far more clearance to fully open, they can also open the entire width of the opening while sliding doors can only open to the left or the right as much as their frames will allow. French doors enable the homeowner to open both doors fully, they allow excellent ventilation. With both door panels operable, you can open either door to let in as much or as little breeze as you’d like.