All You Need to Know About French Doors
Timeless and classic, French doors add a stylish touch to your home. Whether you’re stepping from your conservatory to your garden or opening the kitchen doors to your patio in the summer, French doors are a perfect way to welcome natural light into a room.
Here at Build & Plumb, we’ve accumulated a wealth of knowledge on French doors. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know, from measuring advice to soundproofing methods.
What are French doors?
French doors are designed with full-length windows and open outwards. They are generally used in conservatories, summer houses, lean-tos, or kitchens that open out onto outside space – like a patio, courtyard or garden.
Popular in France in the 16th and 17th centuries – the source of their name – their design means they provide an abundance of natural light, perfect for creating a sense of open space indoors.
So – what do French doors look like? Their design is usually fairly simple: they have glass window panes extending the full length of the door, sometimes split into squares or rectangles to proportion the light evenly as it filters into the room. With their classic style, they’re the perfect way to add a touch of charm to a garden-facing room – particularly on light, warm evenings in the summer.
French doors vs sliding doors
French doors vs sliding doors: what’s the difference, and which should you opt for? While both French doors and sliding doors prioritise natural light with their full-length glass windows, they offer different aesthetics and levels of functionality.
French doors open outwards onto a garden, while sliding doors overlap as they open and close. If you’re working with a compact kitchen or smaller sized conservatory, sliding doors can be a good option to save valuable floor space without compromising on natural light.
Style also differs between the two designs: French doors offer a more rural, traditional cottage garden look while sliding doors – with their single panel of glass – tend to suit a more modern, minimalist décor.
How to measure French doors
Looking to install French doors into your kitchen or conservatory? To find the doors with the right measurements, you’ll need to measure the space they will fit into. To do this, you will need to:
- Measure the opening of the existing door space, from either side of the brickwork, in millimetres. For the width and height, you will need to measure in three places from brickwork to brickwork: the top, middle and bottom for the width – and the left, middle and right for the height. If the door is straight, and manufactured more recently, there should be minimal discrepancy between each measurement.
- Take a look at the smallest width and height measurements, then deduct approximately 10mm from each one. These are your French door measurements. These numbers will account for any necessary packing and fitting by the installer.
Keep in mind that when shopping for French doors, the stated width is usually the size of a pair. This is normally between 1400mm and 1700mm. Looking for more light in your room? You can also opt for sidelights – full-length glass windows on either side of the doors – which you’ll need to measure for too.
Adjusting your French doors
From double glazing to sealing, there are a range of ways you can adjust your French doors to suit the requirements of your kitchen, conservatory or summer house.
How to open French doors
French doors open outwards on both sides with side-hung hinges – and the opening should be smooth and simple. If there’s no obstruction and it’s difficult to open your French doors, contact the installer to check the door alignment: misalignment can happen easily over time as pressure is placed on the hinges. Your installer can tighten the hinges and re-align the doors so that opening feels smoother.
How to soundproof French doors
Looking to soundproof French doors? One of the most effective ways of reducing noise is by choosing doors with double glazing – not only does this help to minimise sound levels, but also helps to keep your conservatory or kitchen insulated during colder weather. For added soundproofing, you can also hang heavy-material curtains – like velvet or suede – to reduce noise.
How to seal French doors
Feeling a draught in colder weather? The best way to seal French doors is to add a weather strip to each one. Designed to create an airtight barrier when the doors are closed, a weather strip is made of rubber and fixed to the door and frame – perfect for keeping your home cosy in cold spells. Still feeling a chill? It may be that the doors are incorrectly set – contact your installer to adjust the hinges or alter the hanging position of the doors.