Which is Best? Sliding Patio Doors vs Exterior French Doors
Patio doors create entry points into your interior spaces from your outdoor spaces. They need to be aesthetically appealing while supporting energy efficiency and security. Patio doors come in a wide variety of styles, but two of the most common are French doors and sliding doors. So, which is right for your home?
Sliding patio vs exterior French doors: what’s the difference?
Most sliding doors come with a two-panel design. The first panel is stationary and the other is mobile, allowing you to slide it open and shut. The sliding portion is mounted on sliding rollers that allow it to slide into or next to the stationary panel. In a patio door, it might be partly or mostly made out of glass to provide a view to the garden and other outdoor spaces.
Exterior French doors, on the hand, are designed to swing open. They’re made up of a frame around one or more glass panels, they typically come in a double-door design, and usually have weather stripping at the bottom to prevent water entering the house.
French doors: pros and cons
Exterior French doors can introduce an element of sophistication and novelty to your spaces. Their advantages include the following.
- Easy access – While your exterior French doors need more clearance room than sliding doors to fully open, they can open up fully. In contrast, open sliding doors might offer you only half the width when it comes to an entry or exit point.
- Ventilation – The double door design allows you to open up the doorway fully and achieve as much ventilation as you’d like.
- Attractive design – They can be used to create a novel, elegant focal point in your transition point between interiors and outdoors. Their classic, timeless design can be perfect for both older and modern homes.
While exterior French doors can be aesthetically appealing while offering you access and ventilation benefits, they could have potential drawbacks, including being more costly.
- Space – You need to ensure you have enough space to allow them to open. However, you can have them installed to swing outwards into the exterior, and have only one single hinged French door instead of the two.
- Less viewing space – The wider panels around the glass panels mean that you could end up with less viewing space.
- Load bearing – The design sometimes means they need extra pieces of wood in the frame to allow for load bearing. This can eat into the access space and potentially make it harder for you to move large items like furniture in and out of the home.
- Mechanical issues – The weight of French doors means they could be more prone to hinge issues over time, and so they’re associated with a shorter lifespan than sliding doors. If you prefer the look and design of French doors, you can opt for French-style patio doors that don’t have the mechanical and other practical drawbacks.
Sliding patio doors: pros and cons
Sliding doors have numerous advantages, including being easy to operate as the weight of the panel rests on the track.
- Space – They help you save space as they run along a parallel track.
- Security – They are designed to prevent forced entry through lifting the door panels off their rails.
- Viewing – Sliding doors can be mostly made out of glass, which makes them better for achieving a broad perspective into your garden and allowing natural light into the house.
- Cost – In some instances, sliding doors can be much cheaper than French doors to purchase and install.
While sliding doors tend to be cheaper than exterior French doors, they have a few potential drawbacks.
- Access – French doors can provide as much as double the entry space as sliding doors. If you enjoy creating mixed interior-exterior spaces for parties, you might prefer French doors.
- Security affecting aesthetics – Some locking systems on sliding doors, such as anti-lift blocks and portable security bars, can look cumbersome and compromise the aesthetic appearance of sliding doors. However, this depends on the type of locking systems you use and in-track blocks, for example, could help you achieve a good level of security.
- Debris – Debris can catch in the track of sliding doors, which makes them harder to clean and even prevent opening and closing.
Which doors should you choose?
So, when it comes to choosing better sliding patio doors or exterior French doors, neither is better than the other and it depends on what you’re looking for. Both can make great choices for your home as long as you make an informed decision before choosing. With French doors, ensure you have sufficient waterproofing and insulation on the frames. For your patio doors, make sure you’re happy with your entry point having reduced door space.
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