Is a French Door Right for Your Home?

When is a door not just a door? When it's a fabulous French-style door, opening your home and your view.

Both beautiful and functional, the French door is as historically and architecturally significant as it is purposeful and modern. french doors of versaillesThe traditional version of a French door was a wood-paned door with symmetrical glass insets. Introduced to the French during the pre-electricity, post-war Renaissance period, these window-like doors brought immense light and illumination to dark interior spaces and allowed for expansive views of the outdoors. 

One of the most iconic historical set of doors is in the Palace of Versailles, with its breathtaking Hall of Mirrors which features mirrored walls facing a long bank of floor to ceiling French doors. These innovative doors allowed light to spill in and illuminate the hall’s interior in the most magical way. 

Fast forward to today, and iterations of the French door are still used to bring light and openness to a room. They remain one of the most popular types of doors—both interior and exterior—and have been designed to complement décor styles from traditional to minimalist. However, the French doors definition and design have changed a bit – instead of the original multi-pane grille-style design, they now come in contemporary designs, with and without grilles. These updated French door styles allow for more light to flow through and into interior spaces and provide unobstructed exterior views.

French door appearance and design

Focusing on proportion and symmetry, the door’s design features panes of glass inset into frames (or a simulation of individual panes, created using grilles) echoing the structure and look of a window. They can be installed in many configurations and multiples of units to suit the intended space and function. While traditional colonial-style grilles were once ubiquitous, today, patterns range from colonial to prairie, fractional to farmhouse (pictured), custom configurations...or no grilles at all. Hardware can be traditional and ornate, or sleek and modern.

Comparing interior vs. exterior doors

interior french doors can be different in construction

While both interior and exterior French doors appear similar at first glance, they are indeed very different in construction, purpose, and cost. 

Interior doors, often used between rooms such as the kitchen and dining room, can be lighter and less expensive than an exterior door, as they do not need to stand up to the elements of nature. They are often comprised of materials like lightweight wood or fiberboard. Because they are inside the home, in between rooms, security and energy efficiency are not as paramount as they are with exterior doors, which are keeping the outside world at bay.

Interior doors do not typically need special weather treatment—a simple coat of paint/stain or varnish can last them for many years—nor do they need they same level of insulation.


Exterior French-style doors are solid and often composed of hardwood or steel or other metal, and can be clad in vinyl, aluminum, or fiberglass for extra protection from the elements. Glass is typically energy-efficient, as well as tempered. And, of course, because it’s not only Mother Nature you need to keep out, exterior French doors should come with a locking system—preferably three-point or more.

At Renewal by Andersen, we offer beautiful Andersen Frenchwood® patio doors with stainable oak, maple, pine, or prefinished white interiors. Frenchwood ® exteriors are available in a variety of colors in a urethane finish or in a low-maintenance vinyl. Frenchwood® doors are available in both hinged and gliding styles.

french doors

For those who like the light and the function of a gliding French door, but with a bit of a modern twist, we also offer two contemporary styles of gliding doors. Andersen Narroline® sliding patio doors feature a stainable natural pine interior and a vinyl exterior in your choice of six colors. Andersen Perma-Shield® sliding patio doors have a low-maintenance, rigid vinyl surface inside and out that protects its sturdy, engineered wood core.

Patio doors should be more than just a path to the outdoors. Find elegant hinged French doors to grace a formal dining area. Discover contemporary sliding replacement doors to match your modern décor. Renewal by Andersen offers dozens of attractive options for replacement patio doors.

What to consider when buying or replacing your French doors: size, space, security

French doors come in a multitude of configurations: double door (pre-hung on a single doorjamb); pre-hung as a single door where only one side opens; bi-fold; sliding or gliding, or pocket door that slides into the wall, and more. 

Single panel, Frenchwood hinged inswing patio door; pine interior finish; specified equal light grille pattern (2 wide x 3 tall); Encino hardware, distressed bronze finish; transom and sidelight windowsDepending on the model you choose, you can elect single-, two-, three-, or four-panel configurations (or work with us to design something unique!). You’ll find our exterior French doors in two signature styles: Sliding French Doors and Hinged French Doors.

Frenchwood® hinged doors are the traditional-style French door. Like all of our Andersen® patio doors, they feature climate-neutral performance, with easy operation even in the toughest of climates, and an energy-efficient design with continuous weatherstripping and interlocking design features that help keep your home draft-free and provide energy savings, too.

The hinged model comes in traditional inswing, but is also available in a space-saving outswing version, as well.

A style for everyone! Choose hardware that blends in, or hardware that contrasts like this distressed bronze paired with a white finish.  Want to conserve even more floor space? Try a gliding, or sliding, French-style door. Andersen® Frenchwood sliding patio doors combine the traditional styling of French doors with the space-saving convenience of a sliding patio door, adding a beautiful, energy-efficient touch to your home.

Also referred to as gliding doors, Frenchwood®  sliding doors have redefined the traditional French exterior door category. These patio sliders have the same aesthetic appeal as standard French doors, but leave your floor space free for furniture and walkways.

Like their hinged counterpart, Frenchwood® gliders feature stainable oak, maple, pine, or a prefinished white interior, and offer multiple grille and hardware options to match your home’s architecture and overall style. And, because they’re Andersen® patio doors, they’re just as effective as effective in sealing out drafts and water.

Speaking of keeping the bad stuff out…our hinged exterior doors are equipped with multi-point locking systems to provide the ultimate in safety and longevity of use, and our sliding doors the unique Andersen® reachout locking hardware that pulls the door panel snugly into the jamb for a weathertight seal and enhanced security.

Since installing new doors is a major undertaking, you will also want to consult a professional before purchase and DIY installation. Or, of course, give us a call and our start-to-finish process will handle all aspects of your project for you!

Find the style French door that's right for you

There are many French door styles available from which to choose. You’ll find styles from traditional to contemporary to meld nicely with any décor. 

Traditional French door styles include the original colonial grille design and Prairie style doors. These types of French doors are ideal for use with semi-formal and formal homes. (Interested in learning more about grille patterns and architectural styles? Check out this article!)

A french door hinged

Contemporary doors styles come with no grille or fractional grille designs making them perfect for use in modern, minimalist, and eclectic style homes. Homes where the view is meant to be maximized such as a mountain lodge or beachfront cottage, will find the contemporary styles give the most unobstructed views to bring the outdoors in.

Which french style door is right for you?

No matter what your style, when you work with Renewal by Andersen, your door can be customized with a variety of hardware styles and finishes, grille patterns, and interior stains.

Whether you are looking for a contemporary glass door, a classic French-style hinged, or something uniquely you, Renewal by Andersen can help you complete your patio door project with a product that looks great—and performs with ease and excellence.

With so many different styles of French doors from which to choose, you are sure to find one easily to suit your space!

Need more inspiration?

Check out our gallery below or visit our website. Need more information? Schedule your free design consultation and see for yourself the difference French-style doors could make in your home!

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