If you're getting ready to install new patio doors, French doors and sliding glass doors are two of the most popular choices for most people. While both types of doors have their pros and cons, French doors have some distinct advantages you should know about and factor into your decision. French doors come out ahead in some very important areas like ease of use, security, and energy efficiency.
Ease of Use
It's very easy to see the differences between French patio doors and sliding glass doors, just by opening both kinds of doors. When you open French doors, both doors easily swing outward, leaving a large open area. With French doors, you'll never again have to worry about how you're going to get a large piece of furniture through the door.
Now, open up a set of sliding glass doors. One of the glass panels will simply stay in place, while the other one slides backward next to it. The first thing that you'll notice is that these doors are heavy. You have to put some weight into them to get them going. That can be tough for elderly people, or for anyone suffering from arthritis or muscle weakness. When the rollers get old, or when debris gets into them, they'll be even more difficult to slide open. They'll need to be lubricated regularly, and chances are that you'll still experience sticking and resistance.
Next, you should also note that you have nowhere near the amount of space you had when you opened up the set of French doors. Sure, you can walk through it, but the opening is no wider than the opening to any standard front or back door.
Many patio door options are, by nature, a little less secure than a strong front door. French doors, however, have a couple of security advantages. For one thing, they swing outward. That means that a burglar isn't going to be able to pry them apart or kick them in easily. Usually, these doors also have locks on both the top and bottom of the doors, plus a deadbolt lock in the middle, so they're locked at three different points. You can also easily add additional locks to French doors, or swap the factory locks out for something more secure.
Sliding glass doors, by contrast, are some of the least secure doors around. Burglars see an empty house with sliding glass doors as little more than an invitation to come in and steal. These doors do come with factory locks, but those locks are usually just levers that go up and down and that can easily be manipulated from the outside.
That's the reason most people take extra steps to secure their sliding glass doors, usually with a pin that's inserted into a hole at the top of the set of doors, or by placing a wooden dowel in the tracks so that the door can be slid back.
Deciding whether sliding glass doors or French doors are more energy efficient has a lot to do with the glass that you choose for each. You can create a pretty efficient sliding glass door by using glass that's at least double paned, and by adding UV blocking film or other window decorating materials. On the flip side, a French door that's cheap and uses single paned low efficiency glass still has an advantage over most sliding glass doors.
What's the advantage? A better seal. Once the French doors are closed and locked, there will be weather stripping between the two doors and between the doors and the wall supports on either side, the better to keep the air that you want in and the temperature that you don't want, out. Sliding glass doors are usually nothing more than glass surrounded by metal, with nothing more than the metal around the door frame or between the rolling door and the frame to keep the air in or out.
You have to make the best decision for your house, but you can't do that without having all of the information. Now that you know a little more about why you should chose French patio doors over sliding glass doors, ask your patio door dealer if French doors are the right choice for you.