What is a French Door? History, Types & Materials

A French door is the type of entrance with two sections. It has hinges mounted on both sides of the frame, which pivot the glass panels and allow the door open and close in its middle. The primary advantage of this solution is the absence of the center post once you open your door. That way, you will get an unobstructed view and plenty of natural light.

In most cases, you can find a pair of double doors with four to eight lites, glass panes extending along with the entire door. However, you can find a model with one large or even 12 smaller lites, as well. Keep in mind that quality impact-resistant and hurricane-grade glass will also keep your home from the external noise. So, let’s see what is the French door exactly.

History of French Doors

Inspired by Italian art and architecture, the French took the innovative idea of double doors and windows style in the 1500s. They used this type of windows and doors as openings to balconies, which brought light and fresh air into their homes.

In the 1600s, the British accepted this style and spread it to the United States. That was a golden age for these models. Initially, French doors were made of plain solid wood, but some manufacturers also used stylize door designs with wrought iron.

Over time, that design started including individual, single-pane pieces of glass in a wooden frame. Nowadays, the term French door always implies a double door with glass panels in a wood, aluminum, or PVC frame.

Types of French Doors

1. Front French doors

Front French Doors

When you decide to make the entrance of your home elegant and stylish, one of the best options you have at your disposal is to install French doors. Keep in mind that you should pick out more sophisticated and stronger models than interior ones to protect your home from possible burglaries.

Nowadays, you can find many custom features with arched doorways and wrought iron details, which will impress anyone who comes to visit you.

  • Patio French door

Many people use this type of French doors as an external entrance that leads outside into their gardens. In most cases, this particular model opens outwards, but you can choose the one that opens inwards if you prefer that way.

Since this door features large glass panels, you will get plenty of natural light inside your home by installing one. Plus, you can let your door open during the parties, which will highlight its stylish design.

  • French door with dog entrance

The excellent thing is that you can also order a pet-friendly French door. Although installing a dog entrance may seem complicated in a glass door, you can quickly solve it. The only thing you need to do is to replace one of the lower panels with a convenient mesh door for your dog.

2. Sliding French doors

Sliding French doors

One of the popular designs these days is a sliding model of the French door. Basically, it looks like the standard model, but with two parts that allow sliding instead of swinging opening. This door has fixed panes of glass on either side that overlap when open.

Keep in mind that it is not the same as a sliding patio door. The sliding patio door has two sides. One of them always remains fixed while another slide is parallel to it and open to the outside.

On the other hand, the French door can open both inward or outward on a hinge or as a sliding door. It sits on a track and is weighted, which allows effortless sliding. This model of the French door is a bit inexpensive than a traditional one.

  • Bifold French door

The bifold French door uses both sets of hinges and a track. In fact, it consists of a pair of doors connected on a hinge, which fold up onto each other when used and off to the side. You can use them as a beautiful, stylish salon door or the closet door.

3. Interior French doors

Interior French Doors

Fitting the double French door at the entrance to the living room or a master bedroom will look stylish, create more space, and allow plenty of light coming inside your home.

  • Bedroom French door

With the double French door, your master bedroom will appear luxurious and romantic. Install it to open towards the backyard patio or balcony, and discover all the advantages of this solution. Your room will get more light, look more spacious, and offer the specific charm of this decorative style.

  • Dining room French door

The French door will provide the ultimate elegance to your dining room. The advantage of this type of door is that it can perfectly fit both traditional and contemporary styles.

This solution offers a clearly defined dining area full of natural light thanks to large glass panels. For this purpose, you should choose the single French door. I like the variation with French window inserts that allows adjustment to any every opening size.

  • Pocket French door

It is not a standard option, but the pocket French door can be a convenient and elegant solution for your home. This door works like a sliding one but uses a track placed on the top. Keep in mind that this model always has an interior pocket, which allows the door sliding seemingly into the wall.

  • Closet French door

If you are a lucky one who has a spacious closet you can walk into, installing the French door will visually open up the closet space. Plus, you will get enough light inside.

  • Shower French door

Your bathroom will get a lot of benefits from the installation of the French door. It will be lighter and visually more spacious. Plus, this solution is ideal for older people who have difficulties while getting in and out of their shower cabins. Since they don’t need to step up and over a doorstep, the access to the shower will be much more comfortable.

4. Modern French doors

Modern French doors

The traditional French door is not the best option for you if your home has a contemporary look. So, you should consider the modern variant of these elegant doors instead. It is an ideal combination of the traditional accessibility and a sleek, minimalist look of contemporary home decor.

French Door Materials

Wood

Wood

Despite the high quality of other materials, the wooden French door is the most desirable model you can find on the market. That is a strong, ornamental, and beautiful option that provides a traditional look for both interior and exterior design. Keep in mind that wood is expensive and requires regular maintenance.

Softwood can be an excellent indoor solution, but you need to choose a long-lasting door made of hardwood for your entrance. Nowadays, most French front doors feature protected finish, which improves their resistance to adverse weather and damage.

PVC

PVC

If you look for an inexpensive but energy-efficient option, you should pick out a French door with a frame made of PVC. This long-lasting material requires low maintenance, but it is not an ultimate aesthetically pleasing solution.

However, if you have already installed PVC window frames, this door will match well the entire design of the house. Plus, you can choose the model that mimics the look of the material you like.

However, keep in mind that PVC is a flammable material. Plus, the variations in temperature will lead to the expansion and retraction of this French door. As a result, you will spot cracks in the vinyl after a while.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is a lightweight, durable, energy-efficient material made of reinforced plastic and glass fiber. Even though it is a long-lasting and aesthetically more desirable option comparing to vinyl, the primary disadvantage of these doors is a higher price.

On the other hand, you can pick out the appearance you prefer. For example, you can choose the model created to resemble a real wood door without regular maintenance, which will lower additional cost.

Steel

Steel

By picking out the French door made of steel, you will increase the security of your home and its insulation. The downside of this option is the fact that steel gets rusted over time. Plus, it is not resistant to scratches and dents.

Aluminum

Aluminum

The aluminum French door is an excellent, long-lasting, lightweight option. This material won’t rust over time and doesn’t require too much maintenance. Plus, you can find this durable, energy-efficient door at an affordable price.

Glass

Glass

French doors made of glass are beautiful, classy, and provide plenty of natural light. You can pick out the door made of plain glass panes, but there are also models with stained and decorative glass.

Keep in mind that most of these doors usually have only the main body of the glass. The frame is made of stronger material. To ensure that your door is secure, you should purchase a model with a more reliable, shatterproof glass.

Summary

Except for the standard French door, you can order a custom model to fit your taste better. Nowadays, most manufacturers also offer solid composite doors made of glass-reinforced polymers, wooden cores, and uPVC edging. There are no ideal or wrong French doors, just models that suit your needs more or less.

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