French-style patio doors are a great way to add style and elegance to your home. Typically arranged in pairs, French doors feature quite a considerable amount of glass, much more than your typical door will have. This design feature is what sets French doors apart, and is ultimately what accounts for the special qualities that French doors can bring to the home.
Two styles of French doors
Traditionally, French doors have been of the hinged variety; and many homeowners still do prefer to stay true to the original design. Those who favor hinged doors will argue that “this-is-simply-how-we’ve-always-done-it,” although there really isn’t any design or functional requirement that the door be constructed exactly that way.
For those with a more contemporary style preference, however, sliding French doors may have a greater appeal. The availability of both hinged and sliding patio doors gives homeowners greater flexibility in choosing which type of door will better suit their home’s particular style, as well as their personal aesthetic.
Hinged French doors: The Traditional Look
Hinged French doors represent everything that made the original French door design great. Whether they swing outwards or inwards (or even both!), hinged French doors appear grand and may even appear to encompass both the inside and outside of your home in the vast sweep of its door panels. With the doors open, the large entryway serves as a backdrop to showcase the two beautiful doors that beckon passage into the different areas of your home.
Sliding French doors: A Modern Aesthetic
A melding of Renaissance-era style and modern functionality, sliding French patio doors combine elegance with the contemporary aesthetic. For many, the way the sliding door panels glide into place behind the non-moving sections of the door, noiselessly and unobtrusively, can better emphasize the connection between the different areas of a home in a way that the more traditional hinged French patio doors do not. With the door panels retracted all the way, all that is visible is the pathway leading from one area to the next.
Sliding or hinged?
A couple of factors can affect your choice of whether to go with hinged or with sliding French patio doors. The layout of your home, in particular, will play a big part. With the hinged variety of French patio door, there needs to be enough space around the doorway for the doors to properly swing open. If the place where you’re planning on installing the doors is cramped, located near features that limit the available space (such as a stairwell), or has a lot of furniture that you cannot easily relocate, then you are better off going with sliding French doors.
One other factor which can seriously impact your choice is just how big you need the passage between the doors to be. Hinged French doors will typically swing open to reveal a much wider space than sliding French doors. If you expect a lot of foot traffic through the doors, or will need to move large objects through the doorway, then you should go with hinged French patio doors.
Ultimately, your choice between the two styles of French patio doors depends a lot on your personal sense of aesthetics. For some, the wide sweep of the traditional, hinged French patio door adds a sense of the grandiose to one’s home, mimicking the way double doors would sweep into a castle or manor house’s courtyard. For others, the understated functionality of the sliding French patio door adds just the right touch of contemporary elegance to their homes.
Steve Grendahl is one of the co-owners of Renewal by Andersen of Sacramento. Originally from Wisconsin, he moved into the Sacramento area over 40 years ago and, with his partner Brian Morris, built a career around the construction of fine custom homes.