Light, bright and incredibly chic, French doors are a perfect hybrid between a window and door. They are meant to create sunny passageways between a home and its patio to let a nice breeze inside, or between different rooms to brighten the space. These types of doors are also very functional, bring tons of natural light in and allow you to enjoy the view even while indoors. French doors are available in a wide range of materials and styles. They serve as a convenient, energy-efficient and aesthetically pleasing option for homeowners.
These doors are ideal for homeowners looking for a lot of natural light or a way to create a connection between indoors and outdoors, those who seek cross-ventilation and anyone looking for classic visual appeal.
Understanding your French door options will help determine which door is best suited for you — there are a lot to choose from! Know what questions to ask potential contractors when it’s time to start your project. This page will help you get started.
What is a French Door?
A French door is a type of interior or exterior door that is typically comprised of window panes that stretch the length of the door or most of it. What gives them their signature look is that they are primarily made of glass.
As the name suggests, French doors made their way from France to the United States in the 1600s. They were billed as a hybrid between a window and door that provided good ventilation and ample lighting.
These doors consist of a pre-hung wooden or vinyl frame that typically comes outfitted with a sill and weather-stripping. Grilles and hardware can be customized to match a homeowner’s personal style. While French doors are most often recognized for their grid-like appearance, they can take on other period styles, such as Victorian or Tudor.
French doors offer versatility. They can be used in both interior and exterior settings, adding a brightness to any room and creating the appearance of spaciousness in an indoor setting. Coming in at a relatively low cost (more on that later) but making a big visual impact, realtors say installing these doors is a great investment on a home’s return on investment.
Types of French Doors
Depending on the functionality you are looking for, there is a range of French door options to choose from. The most popular types can be found below.
Single-hinged French Doors
Even in a single door setting, a French door can be appropriate. A single-hinged French door is commonly found in any area where a single door originally was. They can swing either inward or outward, and brighten up any interior space and add natural light.
Double-hinged French Door
Double-hinged French doors are the most common type that will come to mind for most people. This is the classic visual typically seen opening out into a living room or patio area. Double-hinged French doors feature a set of doors opening either inward or outward. In an outdoor setting, outward opening doors can help compress the seal between the inside and outdoor elements.
Sliding French Door
Often found on bedroom balconies or patio areas, sliding French doors, which are also known as pocket French doors, are types of sliding glass doors. They can function either as a single-slider where only one door slides, or as a double-slider where both doors can slide. These doors are aesthetically pleasing and also save space since they do not swing in either direction in order to open.
Best Materials for French Doors
French doors can come in a number of different frame materials. Deciding on the type of frame material that is best for you will depend on factors including price, longevity, whether the door is exterior or interior based and more. Here is an overview of the most common door frame materials offered:
- Wood. Wooden doors are classic and aesthetically pleasing. But if wood is the main material and the door is used in an exterior setting, keep in mind it will require some upkeep to help withstand the elements.
- Fiberglass. For areas with drastically changing climates — such as scorching summers or frigid winters— fiberglass can withstand the temperature changes without compromising strength. They are energy-efficient and sturdy. And for those craving the wooden appearance, modern embossing techniques can help the fiberglass look more like wood, without all the upkeep.
- Vinyl. Vinyl comes with durability and affordability. It is often the most cost-effective option when it comes to door replacements. Like fiberglass, it is energy-efficient and can be convincingly manipulated to look like wood.
- Steel. Steel doors are lauded for their strength and energy efficiency. However, they are difficult to treat with either paint or stain and often chip, which can later lead to rust. Still, according to the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, steel door replacements can yield a 65% return on investment, making them worth the cost.
As for glass options, these mimic your options for other glass-opening doors. Textured and frosted glasses can be utilized for privacy, while decorative glass can give a period look to a Victorian-style French door.
Resin options can add a fun, creative twist on a classic. It is also important to consider the glass design pressure ratings. Make sure exterior door glass is compliant with local building codes, especially in areas susceptible to extreme weather conditions.
Exterior French Doors
Exterior French doors are intended for any space where the door leads outdoors. Pros to using this type of exterior door include the abundance of natural light they provide. Cons are that they need a little extra room to swing in or out versus a traditional door. They also lack privacy, unless a homeowner opts for treated window panes.
The price of exterior French doors installed ranges on factors including area and material, but the average starting cost is around $500. Explore the most popular types of exterior French doors below.
Patio French Doors
These doors serve as a great option for patios since they create a natural flow between spaces. Still, keep in mind that compared to a traditional door, they can be less energy-efficient when used for the outdoors.
Patio French doors are also a great option for upper-floor balconies. As far as options go, patio French doors can come in a number of styles and materials. Because of their weather resistance, vinyl and fiberglass materials are usually the most appropriate.
Front French Doors
Front French doors provide a stylish and clean look along with plenty of natural lighting. They’re versatile, offering a number of customization options, and relatively simple to maintain. Some drawbacks include the lack of privacy that comes with large windows, but that can easily be fixed with a window treatment.
Good materials for French front doors include wood, for its sturdiness, and vinyl for its versatility and ability to stand up to the elements.
French Doors for the Pool House
A perfect marriage between form and function, French doors are an excellent choice for a pool house because of their versatility, curb appeal and ability to withstand the elements.
Because of the inevitable exposure to water and other elements, a vinyl or fiberglass French door is likely to last the longest and require the least maintenance.
Interior French Doors
Interior French doors are intended for within a home, placed between one room and another. These doors can add to a room’s brightness and spaciousness, becoming a focal point in a living room and adding drama through additions like archways. Costs vary but installed interior French doors start at around $400.
Bathroom French Doors
While not the most popular utilization of this style door, bathroom French doors offer an inspired and creative approach to the space. They can become a focal point in many cases and can let a lot of natural light in. Because bathrooms are private by nature, it may be a good opportunity for a frosted window treatment. Ideal materials include fiberglass and vinyl because of the proximity to water, humidity and steam.
Kitchen French Doors
Serving as a dramatic, classic bridge between a kitchen and dining room, kitchen French doors offer a way to close off a cooking space without losing the view.
The windows keep the areas feeling roomy even when doors are shut. Kitchen door materials can be more forgiving than other areas, meaning wood, fiberglass, vinyl and steel can all be considered.
Bedroom French Doors
Adding style and elegance to the bedroom, French doors are a popular option among homeowners. They instantly make a space look larger and brighter. Still, there are drawbacks, including the lack of privacy and lost space from the door’s swinging footprint, both worth considering.
French Doors to Divide Rooms
Ultimately, French doors are a popular option to break rooms apart from each other without completely closing up a space.
Homeowners like the way the large window panels let the rooms still seem accessible and close by. They’re ideal for families who want to separate spaces but still keep tabs on one another and for making smaller homes seem more spacious.
How Much Do French Doors Cost?
The average cost for a French door installation — including both materials and installation — varies based on the size, materials, glass types, quality and more. Still, costs start at about $500. From there, they can cost as much as $4,000 in certain situations. On average, they fall into the $1,200 range.
In most cases, vinyl and wood are at the lower price point. Fiberglass and steel can cost more, but there are exceptions to the rules.
Additionally, exterior French doors usually cost more than interior doors because of the nature of what goes into the installation process. Exterior French doors typically use heavier-duty materials, extra treatments and more expensive hardware and glue. This is because exterior doors serve as the main barricade between your home and the outside elements.
We recommend requesting a quote from a local door and window contractor to get the most accurate pricing, based on your home and needs.
There are a number of add-on accessories and features to consider for your French door installation. They include the following:
- Door handles or knobs
- Locks and/or smart home solutions
- Trim pieces
- Custom glass treatments
The accessories that make the most sense for your new door depends on which room you are installing the door, the amount of privacy you are looking for, how much natural light you want, and more. A professional contractor will be able to guide you in terms of which door accessories are ideal for your situation.
French Door Standard Sizes
French doors come in a number of sizes depending on your individual needs. Of course, they can always be customized as needed. But typically, the size of standard French doors is about 6.6 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Be sure to ask your contractor which sizes are available and which dimensions work for your space.
Finding a Local Door Installer
While it may be tempting to replace a pre-hung door on your own, Modernize always recommends consulting a professional. Doorways are some of the first things visitors encounter when they come over. It is important to make sure your door is safely and properly installed, not damaging its surroundings and getting the full curb appeal.
Keep in mind that many window brands also install French doors. Modernize can help you find an installer and prepare for installation day. With the help of our directory of reputable and skilled door installers in your area, your project will get done right and beautifully the first time.
As you search for your contractor, be sure to check out our handy checklist to help you in your quest to find the best professional for the job.