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French Doors vs. Sliding Patio Doors: A Comparison Article

French Doors vs Sliding Patio Doors Banner Image

At Paradise Windows, we’re often asked about French doors compared with sliding patio doors, and the pros and cons of each. We know that deciding between these two types can initially feel slightly overwhelming so we have put together a helpful comparison article to help you decide which is best for your home.

There are benefits and potential challenges to both, and much depends on your home’s layout and style, what you need and the available space.

Here, we discuss both types of back doors in detail to help you decide which model would best suit your property. Before you decide, take time to understand the differences and potential limitations of each design.

What Exactly are French doors?

French doors typically overlook a garden or patio. They’re usually hinged double doors which mainly open outwards (although not always), and help break down the barriers between the inside and outdoors. When they’re open, you have full access to the whole width of the opening, creating a real feeling of light and space and this is ideal in particular for smaller properties and gardens. In style, shape and appearance, they’re clearly similar to French windows.

It’s true that you’re limited to having only two panels which open outwards, but you can have full or half-length glazed panels next to them for bigger areas.

And these models are highly versatile, with colours ranging from standard white to a rainbow of fashionable pastel shades. Equally, they’re available in an array of different materials, from uPVC to composite french doors or aluminium.

What are Sliding Patio Doors?

Sliding doors typically comprise two panels, one fixed and one mobile to slide open.

As with French doors, sliding patio doors come in a variety of colours and materials, such as uPVC and aluminium. You can also fit them on more than one side of your property, creating a seamless corner.

Compared with French models, they can be opened to create larger spaces, bringing plenty of light and air into your home. However, because one part of the door does not slide, you can’t access the whole width of the opening. That effectively means that half of the door is always blocking your space.

Nonetheless, they work very well for larger spaces and offer a great solution for stylish, modern properties, and can help open up your home to the outdoors. Meanwhile, today’s advanced technology means these models function better than ever.

French doors: the pros…

If you’re looking to replace external doors, French doors could bring a number of benefits to your home, including:

  • Security: If you thought choosing these models meant compromising on security or durability, think again.
  • Appearance: French doors can be relied on to look stylish and elegant while allowing ample daylight and fresh air into your property.
  • Small is beautiful: If you have a small area or door opening to work with, these portals offer maximum ventilation, probably more than sliding patio doors, since both panels can be opened at the same time.
  • These portals can also replace some kinds of windows if you’re repositioning a back door, such as, for example, changing its location from the kitchen to the living room.
  • Access: Breaking down the barrier between outside and indoors with a spacious entry point is a great idea if you hold lots of outdoor gatherings in the summer. You’ll be able to carry out garden furniture through the opening easily.
  • Added value: Not only can the right French doors save you money on your heating bills, or the cost of summertime air con, but you’ll also be adding to the value of your home.

..and some of the cons to consider

French doors may not be right in every situation. Here are some things to think about:

  • Extra panels and windows can be fitted on either side, but the two-panel set-up means French doors may not be the best option in larger spaces where you need an opening.
  • Smooth operation: These models may not always open as smoothly as sliding patio doors, which suit some householders better, especially the elderly or disabled.
  • Frame thickness: Typically, sliding doors have thinner frames than French doors. Of course, it depends on personal taste and style of building, but this is something to bear in mind.
  • Locking: You usually need a key to lock these doors, even from the inside. Some sliding models can only be locked from the inside, but no key is needed.

Advantages of sliding patio doors

For their part, popular sliding patio openings offer a number of benefits, many of which are the same as for French doors, including easy access, chic appearance, thermal efficiency and connection with the great outdoors. Here are some others:

  • Easily opened: Thanks to their smooth gliding operation when you tug them open.
  • Thinner frames: Allowing for more natural daylight to flood your property and giving you the widest possible view of the outside world.
  • Flexibility: These models are incredibly versatile, and work well where there’s plenty of space, but also where space outside the door is more restricted since they slide across rather than opening outwards. Really they can generally be made to be as big as the space requires.

And what about the downsides?

Again, there are one or two of these, the main one being that they only slide open halfway, meaning that in smaller spaces, fully-opening French doors may provide greater insulation. Where space is severely restricted, you may find these units a less practical choice, since there may not enough room for the doors to slide open.

In summary: the differences between the two

The main difference between sliding and French doors lies in the way each type opens: French doors open outwards via a hinge, while patio doors slide along a track and open to the side.

French doors are arguably more suited to heritage properties. Sliding patio doors, with their more modern appearance, often look ideal in contemporary homes.

Finally, if you have less room, French doors often provide the best solution. But if you have sheds of space and are keen to let in maximum light, sliding doors may well be the best home improvement.

Looking for new windows or doors?

At Paradise, we offer French and patio sliding doors in a range of colours, materials and styles, including composite french doors, uPVC sliding doors and french models. If you want a composite model with an upmarket feel, check out our models from Solidor, especially for a period property. Get in Touch today!