In recent times, we’ve seen a number of people and even companies use the terms ‘patio doors’ and ‘french doors’ interchangeably. However, they offer some very important differences which is something you need to remember when searching the market. In order to clear the confusion, we’ve created a guide to the main differences and how you can decide which is best for your home.
Before we go into each one individually, we should note that ‘patio doors’ originally meant sliding doors. Over the years, the term (or at least the products the term covers) has changed drastically and it now seems to be the all-encompassing word for sliding doors and those that open into the living area or out onto the garden.
In fact, this even includes French doors and the bi-fold design. That being said, they all operate in different ways and this is why it’s important to differentiate between them.
What are patio doors?
Firstly, sliding patio doors are perfect for those with limited space because it opens up the available area. Rather than having a door intruding upon your living space, the sliding door doubles back on itself and therefore utilises the space you have available. Generally speaking, they come in a range of sizes from 1,600mm all the way over 4,000mm.
Since one half of the design stays in place while the other slides behind or in front, this does mean that 50% of the available space will always be covered. With doors that open inwards or outwards, you can open up the whole doorway and allow the sunshine or cool breeze to come through your home. As you can already see, there are benefits and drawbacks to both and this is why they suit different needs.
What are French doors?
Typically, French doors will be hinged before the opening, inwards or outwards, however required. Depending on the amount of space you have available, there may be one or two doors but it opens up fully with no restricted doorway as we saw with patio doors.
On the flip side, the average leaf size is 900mm and this will be your restriction in size. Therefore, even with double doors, you won’t be able to exceed 1,800mm unless you have some type of closed-off window or feature on either side.
If you have enough space, French doors can be a superb choice because they open the area fully. If you have children or friends over for BBQs in the summer, French doors wide open allowing the two areas to become one.
Why consider bi-folding sliding doors?
Before we head on to the main considerations , we should quickly note the decline of traditional patio doors. As folding sliding doors have started to enter the market a little more, it’s fair to say that patio doors have lost their spark. Why? The folding design offers the best of both worlds – the sliding feature and the ability to open up the whole doorway without needing to have a half blocked by a fixed section.
In addition to this, bi-folding doors still work perfectly for smaller homes because they’re quite an efficient solution. By folding in on itself, they take up very little room when open and they don’t disrupt your living areas.
With all this information in mind, all that’s left to do is see what’s best for your home:
Although this is perhaps the most obvious consideration of all, it still deserves a place on this list. What kind of design do you prefer? If your property has traditional architecture, French doors may be a little better since they offer more intricate details.
On the other hand, you may prefer to have a bi-folding sliding door to fit into your modern home and decor. Nowadays, the frames and colours of each are vast, so take your time to research and look for designs you like.
In truth, the overall cost of your project will largely depend on the opening you have available. When considering the cost per square metre alone, up to 20% can be saved with sliding patio doors (as long as it’s above 1,800mm). Compared to French doors, it becomes more cost-effective at greater sizes because the manufacturing methods and hardware are less demanding. If you remember, going above 1,800mm with French doors also requires side panels or windows as well as the two doors which will soon push the cost higher than your budget.
As well as opening nicely for your home, you should also think about how well the doors will keep the heat inside and this comes from double glazing and the thickness of the glass. With toughened glass complying with BSE 12600 and 12150, it shouldn’t let heat escape or the cold inside which will be important in the winter months. If more warmth stays in your living room or lounge, you won’t need to have the heating on for so long and this can save you money in the years ahead.
Luckily, both French doors and patio doors offer double glazing and toughened glass, so make sure you ask the supplier or check for the toughened glass mark, which is normally found in one of the corners.
Despite probably being located at the rear of your home, let’s not forget this will be where potential burglars try to get in. Therefore, security plays a huge role in this decision and there are certain features you should look out for with each.
- French Doors – You will need multi-point locks, cover splines over the rebate gap (weakest part of the door), anti-bump cylinders for lock barrels, and opening restrictors (these can be installed by yourself).
- Patio Doors – Multi-point locks with security hooks, anti-bump cylinder, anti-lift devices, drop bolts, and toughened glass.
As long as you keep these considerations in mind, you shouldn’t have a problem making the right decision for your property. Remember, assess your budget, the space you have available, whether a folding sliding door is an option, performance and thermal loss, and security.
Once you’re ready to go ahead, or if you have other questions, you can check our our FAQs or drop us a message. We can assess your situation and recommend the very best solution for now and the years ahead.