How to Choose Internal French Doors for your Home?
Installing internal French doors is an easy, effective way of transforming two rooms into one bright, beautiful open plan living space. They let light flood in, and can change the whole feel of your rooms, creating a sense of fluidity and flow that can transform the way your home feels.
But as well as all the positive effects they have on the light, energy and flow of your home, they can also be highly decorative design items in their own right. Picking the right ones to suit your home isn’t always easy, not when there are so many options out there.
To stop you feeling overwhelmed by your choices, we’ve put together this handy guide on how to choose internal French doors for your home.
The first thing to consider when you’re looking to purchase a new or replacement set of French doors, is what material you would like them to be made from.
For external doors, uPVC is among the most popular options, mainly because it is as robust and energy efficient as it is cost effective. It can stand up to the wet, wind and rain of the average British winter, and it’s even easy to clean.
However, when you’re picking doors for inside your home, an ability to withstand the elements won’t be high on your list of requirements. You’ll want doors that fit with your furniture and compliment your decor. You’ll want doors that look good – and this is one area where uPVC can be lacking.
- Hard or Softwood
Hardwood doors always look amazing. Whether you pick painted, varnished or a wax finish, that glossy grain will add rustic class to any room.
Natural wood can be split into two types: hardwood, like oak, or softwood, like pine. Both of these are very popular, with the colour, grain and general look of the wood being the deciding factor. Pine is paler, with a softer grain appearance and is also a little cheaper. Oak is slightly darker; when it’s varnished it will have a rich warm glow, but it can cost a little more.
The only real downside of wood is that it can warp over time. Particularly if you have a lot of moisture in your home, or if the temperature fluctuates a lot. Wood can absorb moisture and then expand when exposed to heat, or shrink when it gets cold. This can damage the wood and reduce its lifespan.
- Engineered wood
Engineered wood is our preferred choice for internal French doors. It’s a compromise that carries the best of all worlds: a beautiful, natural appearance that is robust enough to withstand heavy usage. It will provide great insulation and won’t warp over time. Best of all, it’s a very cost-effective option as well! Engineered wood doors have a solid core of engineered wood (like MDF) with a thinner veneer of natural wood (like oak) layered over it. It brings all the aesthetic appeal of natural wood, with added strength. It is also a lot easier to maintain, and won’t be at risk of warping as the engineered core is a lot more stable.
Once you’ve chosen what material you would like for your French doors, next on your list is to choose is what finish you want. This is only relevant if you choose wood or engineered wood though – if uPVC is your pick, then a glossy sheen is your only option.
The decision on finish is about more than the appearance of your doors. It’s about how much work you want to do, and what you want to achieve.
This is the choice of dedicated home improvers, or people with very specific design ideas. An unfinished door will be completely untreated when you receive it, and you will need to prime it, paint it or varnish it yourself.
The bonus is that you can completely control how your door looks, in terms of colour, stain and gloss. But prepping a door is not necessarily an easy job, so spend some time weighing up whether you really to commit to that effort before you plump for unfinished.
A primed door will be a nice half-way point for someone who wants to completely customise the colour of their door. It comes with a protective undercoat already applied, ready for you to splash paint or smooth wax over.
- Fully Finished
This is where your door will arrive completely finished and ready to go. The choice for colours will be far more limited when you go for a fully finished door, and it is the most expensive option. However the professional finishing process will be longer lasting, potentially stain and scratch-resistant and could pay for itself over the lifetime of the door.
By definition, any set of internal French doors you buy will have a significant proportion of glazed panels. Afterall, this style of door was designed to let light pass through and turn dark, dingy spaces into bright airy ones.
But there are still choices to be made around the type of glass you want fitted in your doors as there are numerous options.
- Clear glass
Pick clear glass for your panels if you want to maximise the sharing of light and fluid space between two rooms. Doors with clear glass will help two rooms merge into one, even when the doors are shut. This makes them perfect for joining a kitchen to a dining room or lounge as they allow you to stay connected to the rest of the household when your caught in the kitchen cooking.
If you want the bright, light sharing benefits of French doors, but still need the option of privacy, then frosted glass is a great middle ground.
The light won’t flow quite as well and the lack of transparency will make the doors feel more private when they’re shut.
Etched glass is an artistic alternative for French doors glazing. Keep more intricate designs for larger panels, but a simple border or single shape can be replicated across any style of door. This option will be more expensive than having glazed panes but it will hold a unique aesthetic appeal over something more plain.
French doors are known for having plenty of panels. But there is a whole range of possibilities for the style of the glazing and frame. From single full length glazed panels, to multiple miniature framed sections and everything in between.
You can even choose your shape, including squares, semi-circles, or rectangles. Take a look at our full range of internal French door styles to see just how much variation is available.
You should also consider if you want to install extra panels of glass to really maximise that light flow. Transoms (window panels above the door) or sidelights (window panels either side) will let even more daylight flood through.
Can internal French doors replace sliding doors?
The fundamental difference between French doors and sliding doors, is the mechanism by which they open. French doors are hung on hinges and swing open, whereas a sliding door is mounted on a track.
If you are looking to connect two rooms from scratch, then the choice between French doors or sliding doors is entirely down to personal preference. But if you are looking to replace an existing internal sliding door with a pair of French doors it may prove a little more complicated. The tracks will need to be removed, and you will almost certainly need to fit a new door frame to hang the French doors from.
Replacement is always going to be possible, but it won’t be a simple switch.