Are you thinking about getting exterior French doors for your home but are unsure if they’re the right choice? Learn more here.
When the French had the brilliant idea to cross windows with doors back in the 15th century, they were on to something. Fast forward a good few centuries and you’ll find that most homes across the U.S. today feature at least one pair of exterior French doors.
And if they’re not exterior doors, there is some version of French doors in the home somewhere — whether it’s interleading doors, shower doors, or sliding doors. They all take inspiration from this iconic French invention.
So, if you’re tossing up the idea of installing French doors in your home, here’s everything you need to consider before making your decision.
Exterior French Doors: What Are They?
After their initial invention, French doors made their way across the ocean onto U.S. soil in the 1700s. They soon shot to popularity because of their versatility and since then, it seems they’re here to stay.
If you’re unfamiliar with this popular door style, let’s break down what they look like and how they function. French doors of today are multi-paneled doors made from different materials such as vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass, or wood paneling. They include glass panels that invite both light and air into your home.
As such, they serve almost the same purpose as windows, except with the full function of a door. You can find a huge range of French door styles on the market today. Many of which include their own unique glass paneling, ranging from crisscrossed designs to diamond-shaped grids, and functional glass panels that even open and close.
You can also choose from French doors that slide open, swing open as a single unit, or double swing French doors. With modern-day engineering, French doors are also energy-efficient and provide a good measure of resistance and security.
The key is to pick the right materials for your French doors if these factors are a top priority for you. Most exterior French door parts include an aluminum/wooden/fiberglass/vinyl frame that arrives pre-hung. They’re often pre-fitted with weatherstripping to ensure energy efficiency and protection from the elements.
You can also choose from a selection of grilles and hardware to complete the aesthetic of your French doors.
Are French Doors Right for My Home?
Now, before you dive headfirst into purchasing your French doors, you want to consider a few fundamentals, such as:
- Should you DIY or hire a pro? If you’ve hung French doors before and feel comfortable with the task, then, by all means, DIY it. However, you want to call in a pro if the doors are completely new and you require a new doorway opening
- What will it cost? Depending on the material you opt for, you could pay $400 for stock-standard, pre-hung doors. However, custom doors might cost a little more — around $2,000 and upwards
- What is the warranty like? This depends on who you buy your doors from and the type of material. Most warranties vary and can range from 2-20 years
Finally, you want to think about where you should buy your doors from. If you’re looking for something a little more affordable and standard, visit a home center. If you want something more customized, a window and door showroom is your best bet.
Weighing Up the Pros and Cons
As with every home renovation or addition, there are always a few pros and cons to consider. When it comes to French door installation, these are some of the benefits and drawbacks of these style doors:
- French doors are a beautiful addition to any home because of how much natural light they let in.
- They provide a great indoor-outdoor connection to a home and can therefore help to open up a small space
- They improve ventilation in your home and air quality, as a result
- They can help to both cool and warm up a certain areas of your home, allowing for free airflow or sunlight to pour in
- French doors are available in a variety of styles so they can add interest and character to your home
- In order to install French doors, you’ll need the floor space to do so, especially if you intend on installing swinging doors and swinging screens
- They are a little vulnerable to the elements and can invite moisture into your home, especially if you opt for cheaper versions without weatherstripping
- French doors can be high-maintenance — sliders need regular cleaning and weatherstripping needs periodic replacement
Lastly, you don’t want to overlook the fact that French doors don’t offer much privacy. They do leave your home on-view because of the glass paneling. That’s why it’s a good idea to either install French doors at the rear of your home, or install shades, drapes, or blinds for privacy.
Choosing the Right Material Type
When it comes time to choose your French door material, there are three popular variations that most homeowners tend to go for. Let’s take a closer look at these materials:
This is probably one of the most affordable options today. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get bang for your buck. Vinyl is an incredibly durable, long-lasting, and low-maintenance material. You can also find vinyl in a great assortment of colors and mock textures. Most homeowners tend to opt for vinyl that mimics the look of wood doors.
Vinyl French doors are also quite energy-efficient as they include stiff foam cores that add to their durability. For a pre-hung set of vinyl doors, you’re looking at spending about $2,700.
This is yet another truly remarkable material because of its high durability and energy efficiency. Fiberglass also has a relatively long life expectancy and is also low-maintenance.
Today, you can find fiberglass French doors with excellent UV and weather resistance to add to their shelf-life. You can also choose from a paint or marine varnish finish for added longevity. Fiberglass doors include a thick foam core which makes them all the more energy efficient.
Choose from a smooth finish or an embossed finish that mimics the look of wood. A pre-hung set of doors will set you back about $3,500, so they are the most expensive option.
- Clad Wood
These French doors are a mixture of materials, including wood on the interior (engineered lumber) for a strong core, and aluminum, vinyl, or fiberglass on the exterior.
This option is also great for withstanding the elements and energy efficiency. You can choose from either a paint or varnish finish to add to the longevity of the door, as well as the overall aesthetic.
A pair of pre-hung clad wood doors will cost you, on average, $2,000-$2,600 so they are the cheapest option among them all.
On the Hunt for Home Improvement Inspiration?
All in all, exterior French doors can add immense character to just about any room in your home. Not only do they look wonderful, but they are multi-functional, allowing for maximum light and airflow into your space. In our opinion, they’re a great choice for any home!
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