Having French patio doors open onto your deck or into your backyard is a beautiful way to open your indoor living area into your outdoor living area!
French doors are commonly available in wood, steel, aluminum, and fiberglass. Some wood doors are covered with aluminum or vinyl. Each door material has its advantages and disadvantages. Metal- and aluminum-clad doors need less maintenance over time, but wood provides a higher quality, more traditional look.
Although an issue for all French patio doors, leakage is of particular concern with wood doors. Once a wood door becomes exposed to moisture, it warps and starts to expand. Then it can easily start to stick. Some door materials are also noisier than others. Steel doors clang and aluminum doors make less noise, but wood is the quietest.
Each pane of glass in a French door is referred to as a light. Single-light doors have one undivided panel of glass. Doors with divided lights have smaller areas of glass separated by muntins (wood or metal bars).
When deciding between single or divided lights, consider the style of your home. Traditional wooden divided lights may look strange on a sleek modern house. For such a house, steel or aluminum doors with undivided expanses of glass may be a better choice.
The majority of manufacturers now offer both in-swinging and out-swinging French doors. The decision to choose between them is usually dictated by location.
Leakage and warping must also be taken into account when you’re ready to install (or have installed) a set of French doors. Do-it-yourself installation in a new opening can be risky because cutting through the wall may create waterproofing problems.
Every manufacturer has a menu of available doors and options. This menu is not uniform within the industry. Some offer a wide variety of sizes and types as standard doors, which are usually in stock and available for immediate purchase.
If you want a size or type not available in the manufacturer’s inventory, it can often be ordered, but delivery may take longer. Other manufacturers make all of their doors to order.
If you are considering an unusual size or material, you may want to go with a manufacturer that custom-makes all of its doors. As a general rule, if you want a door to be more than 4 feet wide or 8 feet tall, you will need a custom door.