French Patio Doors vs Sliding Glass Doors: The Pros and Cons

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Double French doors with porch, pale yellow siding and white trim

Adding outdoor upgrades can increase the value of your home, and if you plan on adding a patio or deck, you need the right entrance.

The patio door provides a glimpse of the backyard, letting in natural light, creating visual interest, and sometimes acting as a focal point in the room. You can choose between French patio doors and sliding glass doors, but picking the wrong option can leave you with regret.

So, how do you choose between the two? Consider these pros and cons of each to make the best decision.

French Patio Doors

What we call French patio doors started with the French Renaissance in the 17th century. The design of the French door was inspired by ancient Romans, who had a fondness for balance, symmetry, and geometry.

More accurately, they were French windows that allowed a person to step out onto their balcony. Over time, French windows became known in the design world as French doors, hinged patio doors, or swinging patio doors. They’re a popular option these days for those looking to install home windows and patio doors.

Here are the pros and cons of installing these classic glass doors.

Traditional Style

Many homeowners covet the classic look of French patio doors. The style is sophisticated and eye-catching and looks particularly lovely in older or historic homes. However, the wide range of styles means that French doors can complement contemporary homes as well.

French doors have a variety of hardware to choose from, so you can choose a more traditional look or something streamlined and contemporary.

While white is a popular option that helps brighten the room, you can also get French doors in natural wood styles, black, and various colors.

There are also many different glass styles, from uninterrupted glass panes to the popular grid patterns.

Better Ventilation

One of the best benefits of French doors is that you can open them both to increase ventilation. Since they allow so much air into the home, they can help with cross ventilation.

If you’re worried about bugs, there are retractable and temporary screen options you can use in the summer to prevent bugs from getting in while still allowing the breeze to cool your home.

They Require Floor Space

French doors can open inward or outward, but either way, they require some floor space. You’ll have to consider this as you plan for installation.

If you have a smaller home or a tight space, French doors may not be the best solution. After all, you want your glass doors to open up a room. Doors that bump into furniture as they open or are difficult to swing would have the opposite effect.

Hinges Need Maintenance

Over time and as they are exposed to the elements and changes in the weather, the hinges may become difficult to operate or noisy. Periodic maintenance can keep the hinges in good shape, but you’ll need to remember to perform it.

Also, both sliding glass doors and French doors require a regular wiping down to keep them clean. All that glass can show fingerprints, smears, and smudges quite easily.

Sliding Glass Doors

A sliding glass door moves along a track, opening from side to side. The opening for sliding glass doors is slightly larger than a standard door opening.

You often see sliding glass doors in newer homes. They are simple to operate and bring in a lot of natural light. Sliding doors work well as entrances to both decks and patios.

Similar to French doors, sliding glass doors come in a wide variety of styles and can be made from varying materials. Here are some pros and cons of a sliding glass door.

Sliding Doors Use Less Floor Space

If you’re short on floor space, a sliding glass door is the way to go. Since this style opens back and forth rather than inward or outward, it takes up very little space. It’s ideal for small balconies, patios, or decks.

You won’t have to worry about a sliding glass door bumping into any furniture or people as you open it.

It Requires Less Maintenance

Although you need to ensure you keep the track free of debris, a sliding glass door typically requires less maintenance. There are no hinges to worry about, meaning sliding doors are a great choice for both very warm and humid areas as well as regions that get snowy winters.

Not as Energy Efficient

Swinging glass doors tend to create a tighter seal, which reduces air leakage and makes them slightly more energy efficient than sliding glass doors.

It’s also impossible to use weatherstripping all the way around a sliding glass door and still use it. In time, weatherstripping also wears down. Keep this in mind if you’re worried about energy efficiency.

Security

One advantage that sliding glass doors have is that they can be secured from the inside using security bars and locks.

While it may be more expensive, you might want to consider security or shatter-proof glass.

Cost

The cost of either a sliding glass door or a French door depends largely on the style you choose. The more elaborate the design, the higher the cost.

Both are comparable, though French doors typically cost more on average.

Energy Efficiency

French doors come out slightly ahead when it comes to energy efficiency. That said, there are many energy-efficient options for glass on the market now that can help you keep your bills low.

Which Is Right for You?

In the end, it comes down to preference. Both French patio doors and sliding glass doors offer similar benefits, and the downsides are fairly comparable.

The biggest benefit of sliding glass doors is that they take up less space. French doors look best in historic homes and are slightly more energy efficient. If you’re undecided, you can consult with a window and door company to learn more about your options.

And to make the most of the rest of your home, read some of our other posts. We cover a wide variety of topics from home improvement to entertainment and more.