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Home / Blog / The Pros and Cons of Sliding Glass Doors and French Doors

When deciding what style of door to choose for your deck or patio, the choice often comes down to sliding glass doors or hinged (commonly referred to as French) doors. But are sliding doors or French doors better for your home?

Both are great options. It often comes down to preference.

Inswing French Double Door

Patio Door Configurations

There are several different configurations to choose from when considering hinged vs. sliding glass patio doors:

  • Traditional French door configuration – Side-by-side doors that are both operable (active) and swing open from the center.
  • Single operable hinged door – With double French doors, you can also choose to have just one door active. An active/inactive configuration could be a consideration for homeowners who like the look of traditional French doors but have limited floor space for swings. A single hinged door provides simple elegance.
  • Inswing vs. outswing – Inswing refers to a door that swings into the interior of a home. Outswing refers to the active panel swinging outward.
  • Sliding – Sliding glass doors don’t swing open so they require less floor space. They are available in various materials and glass options to match your home’s look.

Sliding and French Patio Door Considerations

Each of these configuration options, along with your choice of size, frame material, glass type and finish options will impact the cost of your door. Prices can vary significantly based on these factors. Besides price, there are three other common considerations when making your decision:

1. Space

Space considerations

The layout of your room has a huge impact on deciding on a door style. If your doors are close to furniture or other things that could obstruct them, it may be much easier to simply slide a door from side to side, rather than opening it into your space. Sliding doors allow you to plan out the design of your space without limitations caused by the doors.

Although sliding glass doors can provide more flexibility with furniture arrangement in a room, French doors can (based on your configuration) provide a wider opening If you are moving large furniture into your house or hosting parties where there will be a lot of foot traffic in and out, you may be limited by the width of the patio slider. It’s important to note that some manufacturers offer larger options in sliding glass doors than what is traditionally thought of with this door type. Be sure to ask your sales representative about all options if this is a consideration for you.

A traditional two-panel French door, where both doors are operable, provides the option of opening about twice as wide as a two-panel sliding patio door. Perfect for moving things in and out or hosting large crowds of people, but this configuration requires more floor space to open and close. You need to be aware of the path your doors make when you’re designing the plan of your room because you won’t be able to place anything too close to the doors if you want them to open fully.

2. Design

Design of sliding and french doors

Both styles of door are unique, distinct and available in varying options. Consider the configuration you are aiming for in order to fully evaluate both styles.

Although both styles of doors let in a lot of natural light, the patio slider can have large panes of glass, letting in a flood of natural light and allowing unobstructed views of the outdoors. For this reason, they can also create an illusion of having a larger space, similar to the effect a mirror can have on a room. If you want to control the light or add privacy, built-in blinds are an out-of-the-way, easy-care design feature available on sliding patio doors.

Some homeowners feel that sliding glass doors don’t match the style of older homes as well as traditional French doors. If you live in an older home with a more traditional style, or you prefer a more classic look, then sliding glass doors may not be the right choice for you. French doors compliment most older homes, while also providing a timeless look in newer buildings. Both types of doors come in many styles with options on materials, grilles and more to help you achieve a classic or contemporary look.

3. Convenience

Convenience of French Doors

Sliding glass doors can be more convenient to operate, but traditionally have a larger threshold. Because they require a track to slide the doors along, you may have to step slightly over the sliding doors to walk through them. Also, when replacing a hinged door with sliding doors, be aware of the difference in threshold and its potential impact on existing flooring. Several manufacturers offer ADA-compliant options with a lower profile sill. If this is a consideration for you, be sure to ask your sales rep for configurations that could work in your home.

Your climate may also influence your decision. In areas with high wind gusts, sliding doors will be less prone to blowing shut. If you choose an out-swing configuration when updating a hinged patio door, consider the impact of drifting snow on your ability to open and close your door. With in-swing hinged doors, snow or rain may cling to the exterior of your door and could potentially cause moisture to be brought inside.

Both door styles have pros and cons, and your decision largely comes down to personal preference in regards to price, space, design and convenience. Regardless of which option you choose, you really can’t go wrong with either of these styles of doors.

Consult a patio door pro or visit your local showroom to explore your options for sliding patio doors or French doors.

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