Comparison of French Doors and Sliding Glass Doors
What are the advantages/disadvantages to using a sliding glass door?
- Ease of Operation – They are extremely user friendly and easy to operate because the entire weight of the sliding panel is supported by the track and require no more than a gentle nudge to move.
- Space-Saving – Because the doors slide along a parallel track, rather than open or close on a hinge, sliding doors require almost no space to be fully opened. This makes them an ideal option for homes with smaller spaces near entrances or homes where space is a commodity.
- Security – The security design is aimed at preventing both the fixed and operable doors from being lifted off their rails.
- Energy Efficiency – You should look for a door with Triple-Fin Weather-Stripping with antimicrobial protection that fights the growth of mold and bacteria. Also you want to find a door that has all their frames, rails and stiles with injected R-5 Comfort Foam which acts as the door’s thermal insulator around its exterior.
- Sliding doors also provide a more unobstructed view of the outdoors.
- Locking systems – Anti-lift blocks can be fixed to the top of the rails or a portable security bar can be fitted from the inside to prevent sliding action when the door is closed. We find both these options cumbersome and inevitably sacrifice beauty so we decided to go with Soft-Lite as they offer a patented 2 point locking system. This design prevents any break-ins as it locks the door into the jamb. Our door also has a TowBolt or ThumbBolt which are effective vent-stops from preventing the door form opening more than 3” while still allowing some added ventilation.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of a French Door?
- Ease of Access – The French Doors make up in ease of access what they lack in space saving. While French Doors require far more clearance to fully open, they can also open the entire width of the opening while sliding doors can only open to the left or the right as much as their frames will allow.
- Ventilation – Because French doors enable the homeowner to open both doors fully, they allow excellent ventilation. With both door panels operable, you can open either door to let in as much or as little breeze as you’d like.
- Space Issue/Blocks Views –
- While French doors boast more ease of access and ventilation, some of them require wood used for load bearing in the direct center of the opening, inhibiting view and ability to move things in or out of the house.
- They also have wider panels on all sides thus having less glass viewing space.
- French doors swing into the room where they are installed so furniture cannot be placed next to them. French Doors can be quite inconvenient in smaller spaces where the swing diameter will interfere with furniture or ingress/egress. We hear homeowners complain a lot about this issue with French Doors as they have to move furniture to open their door! Not only is this annoying but they can’t open the door wide enough to allow for fresh air. Some homeowners prefer a sliding patio door as it does not require any living space to accommodate opening and closing.
- Poor Energy Efficiency Ratings- The area where French doors join together at the center is susceptible to air and water leakage. Sliding doors overlap which is a more efficient design and creates a tighter seal where as French doors come together with no overlap and an increased chance for air infiltration. Also as winds blows against a French door, it tends to bow thus causing additional air leakage.
- More expensive- French doors are generally more expensive than sliding patio doors as well.
Seem like a lot to take in? Let’s recap.
- Sliding doors provide better security and offer ease of use and space saving opportunities.
- Sliding glass doors use a glass pack and insulated frames to offer better energy efficiency than the traditional French doors.
- French doors allow more ventilation but can have space, mechanical, energy-efficiency issues.
- Today there are plenty of alternatives to French doors. There are French style patio doors that mimic the look of a French door but don’t have the drawbacks.
At the end of the day, you need to choose what’s best for you and your family, but personally I believe that sliding doors offer customers more than the French door style.