What’s the Difference Between Patio and French Doors?

There are all kinds of patio doors on the market today, but by far the most popular types of patio doors are sliding patio doors and French doors. If you’re trying to decide between these two, the best way to approach it is to consider what your personal needs and your personal preferences are. For instance, if you need to brighten up a room that’s poorly lit, in that case a French door might be the way to go, because of the high volume of glass included in a French door.

On the other hand, a sliding patio door may be more beneficial for your household if there’s a great deal of traffic between the living room and the exterior, perhaps leading to a deck on the outside. Today’s French doors and sliding doors are made available in a number of different sizes, so you’ll be able to accommodate whatever size you have room for, but there are some significant differences between French doors doors and other patio doors that you should consider. Below, we have outlined the most notable differences between these two types of doors, and this should help you decide which one is most appropriate for your particular household.

Design differences

Sometimes referred to as swinging patio doors, French doors can either open inwards or outwards from the center. Once it’s open, it allows full access to the whole width of the door opening. The intricate details on a French door make them a huge favorite with homeowners who favor a traditional architectural style. Compared to gliding patio doors, French doors typically will have a much wider door frame.

Sliding patio doors are popular because they open and close so easily, and because they can be equipped with a screen door that leaves you the option of having the door open all the time. This is a great way to bring the outdoors into your home, without inviting all the critters and bugs that might go with it. One drawback of installing a sliding door in your home is that only 50% of the door will be open for access to the outside at any given time. This is because the doors have to slide past each other in the frame, meaning that only one side can be fully open at any given time.


In both cases, these two types of patio doors open up on the exterior of your household, and that means you might want to consider some extra security features to prevent authorized access. With sliding doors, you can have anti-lift devices and multi-locks installed, so that they can’t be forced open. If you’re installing a French door, these can be purchased with from three to five locking points, and you might also want to add on a cover spline which will cover the gap in the center where the doors meet. That’s usually the weakest point of the structure, and it’s the one that a burglar would attack when trying to gain entrance.

Opening mechanism

One of the chief observable differences between patio doors and French doors is the way that they are opened up. French doors typically feature a double door that opens outward and is situated on a hinge. You can open one of these doors, and the other one is generally bolted in place, or you can purchase a door where you’ll have the option to open them both at once. When you have both doors open simultaneously, you’ll have maximum access as well as maximum ventilation for that section of your household. Patio doors are installed on a track, and are usually made up of two large glass panes. The second pane will stay in place, while the movable panel slides open to create a doorway. If you have a great deal more space, you can include more panes of glass at your option.

Energy Efficiency

Many French doors are now equipped with double-pane glass that makes them highly energy-efficient, but it should be remembered that glass also has the potential to leak out a great deal of conditioned air. Therefore, it might be worthwhile to coat your glass with low-e oxide coating, or you can also have an inert gas like Argon forced into the sealed glazed unit so as to increase energy efficiency of your doors. While you can do this with either sliding doors or French doors, the difference will just be in the approach you take to achieving extra energy-efficiency with the type of door you end up installing.


Not many people can afford to make home renovations and improvements without considering the cost. If you have that kind of financial independence, then you don’t need to worry about the cost of these two types of doors. Generally speaking, the cost of either of these doors will depend on how large your door opening is. As a general rule, a sliding patio door is generally somewhat less expensive than a French door. There is usually more artwork involved with a French door, and the French door grids have intertwined wooden framework, with glass that fits into that grid.