What You Need to Know About Exterior French Doors

French doors remain a popular design choice for the very reason they were born: They transcend function to become a source of beauty and light. But are they the right choice for your home?

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

doorJamie Hooper/Shutterstock

The French pioneered the idea of trading doors for large, symmetrical windows to flood a room in natural light during the 1600s, long before electricity hit the mainstream. When the trend made it to America, its origin country got naming rights. French doors remain a popular design choice for the very reason they were born: They transcend function to become a source of beauty and light. But are they the right choice for your home?

Upgrading doors pays off, and what a difference new doors can make!

Where Are You Installing Them?

French doors can be a beautiful improvement when replacing existing sliding doors. If you plan to add exterior French doors where no doors existed before, choose a spot that’s a logical entry and exit point for your home. And, because cutting the new opening for the doors into an exterior wall could compromise the structural integrity of your home, have an expert check out the location before you buy the doors and begin the project.

Thinking about replacing an interior door? We walk you through the project, step by step.

Do You Have Clearance for the Doors to Swing Open?

Whether exterior French doors swing into a room (called an inswing) or out to a patio or deck (an outswing), make sure you have the clearance required to accommodate the swing. One option that saves space is to have one of the doors fixed, so you just have to contend with one door opening.

Do You Want Screens?

If so, you need to plan for it and decide what type you want. They can be hinged, on a track or retractable.

Will You Need Privacy?

Those big glass doors let in a ton of light, but if you want privacy at night, you’ll need to cover them with blinds, shades or curtains.

Get 10 patio door curtain ideas in this collection.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Sliding Glass Doors With French Doors?

Standard-sized French doors, commonly available in vinyl, fiberglass and clad wood, range from $500 to $4,200 at The Home Depot. Custom sizes, locks and installation are additional costs. Choose from 15 high-tech locks to make your doors secure.

What Are the Best French Doors?

The best exterior French doors are the ones that match your budget and expectations. Choose the most energy-efficient, highest quality doors your budget allows. Then make sure they’re installed correctly and that you keep them well-maintained. Keeping a clear view with exterior French doors is a breeze with these window-cleaning tools and tips.

Popular Videos

Kathleen Childers
Kathleen Childers, a Minnesota-based writer, covers topics about home and life for a variety of clients.