Exterior or patio doors are essential for indoor illumination and insulation, not to mention security. Many buyers spend a lot of time looking for a door design that fits their home’s aesthetics. French doors are the premium option for an exterior door. But most people don’t know about the intricacies of these doors to decide on what they want.

For modern exterior doors, most people go with either regular sliding doors or, if they want premium, they’ll choose a French door. French doors tend to cost almost double that of traditional sliding doors, so you must know how these doors work before making your investment. This article will act as a guide for exterior French doors.

 Standard Size(in")
Width Height Size
48 80 48x80
60 80, 96 60x80, 60x96
64 80 64x80
72 76, 80, 96 72x76, 72x80, 72x96
96 80 96x80
124 80 124x80


Common Size:

36 inch / 48 inch / 72 inch

5 ft / 6 ft / 8 ft

What are French Doors?

French doors are glass doors with wide frames, often adorned with exquisite designs for aesthetic appeal. The design became popular during 17th century France. The glass-to-frame ratio makes these doors excellent for good lighting and outside view while also providing good insulation from the elements.

French doors are often more bulky looking compared to regular sliding doors. They also have a larger frame area so that they can handle larger loads. The aesthetic quality of the modern French doors leans toward the Art Deco style, with a streamlined, minimalist touch. It is both rustic and elegant.

Types of French Doors

While the original French doors were predominantly of the hinged variety, the modern iterations of these doors come with more options.

Single-Hinged: The single-hinged French doors are narrow and rest on only one set of hinges. These doors are most typical if you have limited space to work with.

Double-Hinged: Double-hinged doors are two single-hinged doors put together. They open from the middle and are connected on the sides. Those need a larger door frame but offer more illumination and functionality.

Sliding French Doors: There are also four-panel sliding French doors. The sliding French doors are relatively newer compared to the swinging doors. You could get custom French doors with a full-screen style, but those are nonstandard variants. To get something like that, you’ll need to do custom orders, which cost quite a lot.

Energy-Efficient French Door Materials

Modern French doors are incredibly flexible with their material type. The classic French doors were of wooden or metal build, but the modern ones also come in Vinyl, Reinforced Aluminum, and Fiberglass.

Each material has distinct strengths and weaknesses, so some are better suited for certain situations than others. Take Fibreglass, for example. They cost far less than wooden doors but have significantly higher insulative properties.

Higher insulation is very important in picking exterior doors, especially for places with harsh climates. Better insulation means higher energy efficiency. Steel and aluminum are also decent choices, but aluminum is usually the better one among these two.

There are also some excellent Vinyl doors out there. Vinyl is low-maintenance and very durable but has no other defining qualities. Wood easily wins in terms of aesthetics and customization options. Vinyl and Fiberglass are quite limited in that regard.

Picking an Aluminum door can be tricky if you don’t know the types. Regular Aluminium doors are not particularly good at insulating. Only thermally-improved Aluminium has excellent insulation.

How to Secure French Doors?

Most French doors typically have deadbolt locking systems. Some manufacturers will install additional manual deadbolts at the top or bottom for more security.

Unless it's a custom sliding French door, your door will most likely sit on hinges on the side. So a lot of the security factor comes from the hinges themselves. Most people usually use wavy-duty steel hinges for exterior doors.

The standard lock on the handle has three variants. Single-action locks have one pin that goes into the other door panel or the wall in case of a single door. Better locks will come with two pins instead of one for more coverage.

Though the best doors tend to have up to four pins on the turning handle, two of the pins sit in the middle. The third and fourth pins stay at the top and bottom of the door. You could also add more varied locking mechanisms on custom doors.

Classic and Modern French Door Styles

French doors can fit both modern and traditional classic aesthetics. Which one you need will depend entirely on your home’s architectural style.

Classic French door styles typically tend to be on the bulkier side. Such doors have thicker frames, heavier weight, and less glass compared to their modernized brethren. These doors go well with traditional settings and generally have few shortcomings.

The more modern French doors are slimmer, lighter, and minimalist. Usually, these doors cost less because they use materials like Fibreglass or Vinyl.

On the other hand, classic French doors still use wood as the preferred material, with a few rare instances of metal. Regardless of the artistic type, both modern and classic French doors have a solid build profile.

Are French Doors Energy Efficient?

French doors and sliding doors don’t have much difference in terms of energy efficiency purely based on their build design. The defining factor for energy efficiency is the insulation quality. The manufacturing quality and material determine insulation quality. So whether a door swings or slides has very little impact.

Doors and windows come with an energy rating. In most places, it’s divided into tiers. A is the good energy rating, and G is the lowest and usually pretty bad. Energy rating is related to insulation. Better insulation means a better rating and more energy efficiency.

Some people propose that the swinging action is worse at insulating than sliding doors which don’t stir up the air when opening. But it’s very shaky reasoning at best, and there’s no proper scientific study on this subject.

Pros & Cons of French Doors

French doors have their inherent benefits and weaknesses. Checking them beforehand will help you decide if a French door is truly worth it for your home. Here are some notable pros and cons:


  • French doors are aesthetically pleasing.
  • Proper illumination and insulation
  • Wide range of materials
  • Secure locking mechanisms


  • French doors have less glass compared to sliding doors. So you would see the less outdoor view.
  • Such doors are typically heavier.
  • Swinging doors require more space to operate. You can’t put things in front of the swing path.


Well, that’s all you need to know about exterior French doors. Hope this article was able to help you understand whether or not these are the right ones for your home.

They are great for adding a modern look to your home while being highly energy efficient. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, French doors are exactly for you.

May 16, 2023 — Della Wang