What are Internal French Doors?

What are Internal French Doors?

Internal French doors are an attractive and popular door option.

Providing extra light and space between rooms, they are a practical solution for many. But with countless door options to choose from, how do you know whether they are right for your home?

We’ve put together a guide addressing their style, history and benefits. So, you can see for yourself what internal French doors are all about.

What are French doors and how do they work?

French doors are often classed as two hinged doors that meet in the middle and open outwards. They are often talked about interchangeably with double doors. While almost all French doors are double however, not all double doors are French doors. To be defined as a French door, a door has to have at least two panels, with one or more of those panels being glazed to allow light to pass through.

It is this use of transparent (or translucent) panels that makes this door style so desirable. Often, it’s a case of the higher the proportion of glass or glazed panels the better. Originally, the wooden frames of the door would be so narrow or slim, they would look almost like windows (in fact, when they’re installed in pairs, French doors are sometimes even called French windows).

Another defining feature of French doors is that they open outwards using hinges. This is obviously more important or relevant when it comes to external French doors. In this location, having them open outwards further enhances the effect of them enlarging the room. They break down the barriers of your home, and really create the impression that your garden is just another living space.

With internal French doors, the definition of ‘outwards’ becomes more wooly. The connection between the two rooms is the important feature, and the way they open becomes less of a factor. If one of your adjoining rooms is used more heavily, you will probably wish to have the doors opening away from that space. But it is up to you to decide which way works best for your house.

Beyond this, the term ‘French doors’ encompasses a wide variety of styles, including the amount of panels, the material used and the type of glazing. They are among the most decorative door style available and bring a touch of elegance to the decor of any room. You can read more about the possibilities for French doors on our page on how to choose internal French doors.

Where did French doors originate?

You may not be surprised to find out that this style of door originated in France.

While their name is a giveaway, the light, bright, airy nature they bring to a room also feels firmly rooted in French interior design.

French doors were first seen in the 17th Century, and were commonly used to open out onto balconies. They were specifically designed to soak up as much light as possible (in the days before electricity) and also to look as attractive from the outside as they did from the inside.

From the bustling streets of Paris, to the elegant grounds of Versaille or quaint villages of Provance, these bright, beautiful doors can still be spotted all across France and it’s no wonder the rest of the world wanted some too.

Are French doors always double?

Most people think of French doors as a set of double doors. And, indeed, this style is most commonly seen in pairs.

But this is not a requirement of the style. As we covered above, the name ‘French doors’ refers to the construction of the door itself: the high proportion of glass involved, not the way they are installed.

You can get single French doors that are heavily glazed. However these days the term has become almost synonymous with double doors. So much so, that many companies only sell them in pairs.

How do they differ from sliding doors?

The main difference between French doors and sliding doors is the way in which they open.

French doors are joined to the door frame using a hinge mechanism. They swing open. Whereas sliding doors are mounted on tracks, and they are opened by sliding them backwards to create an opening.

Among both internal and external door design, sliding doors have a more standardised appearance. They usually consist of two larger glass panels set into one big outer frame. This allows the maximum amount of light to get into the room.

With French doors, the frames are more intricate and decorative. For many people, the choice is to install French doors is as much about their appearance and the charm the doors themselves have, as it is about the sense of openness and fluidity of space they create.

How much do French doors cost?

It is difficult to put a definite price on French doors.

Variables such as the style, material and finish of any doors you buy will be reflected in the cost. Another obvious factor that will impact the cost is the size of doors you need. If you need to fill particularly large door frame or opening, you may need to add side panels and this can knock the costs up further.

However, there is such a wide range of options available that it is possible to find a set of doors to suit any budget

If you want to get a clearer idea of how much a new set might cost, take a look at our full range of internal French doors. Alternatively, you can speak to us directly to get a quote.

Can internal French doors be used outside?

You may have noticed that internal French doors cost a lot less than external ones, and this can spark a temptation to use internal doors on an external doorway. Unfortunately, this is not a good idea.

As French doors close and lock into each other, rather than into a door frame or ‘jamb’, using internal French doors can be a vulnerable point in terms of security. A high quality set of external French doors will compensate for this with a complex, reliable and ultra-secure locking system. They’ll be specifically engineered to keep out intruders: a decent set of external French doors will be every bit as secure as they are attractive.

A set of internal doors will not be designed to offer the same level of security. They will also tend to be thinner, and offer less insulating properties for heat and sound as well.

Any door that is advertised for ‘external use’ will be legally required to meet a more stringent set of building standards. These will cover security, lifespan and insulation. This goes for external French doors too.

French doors are perennially popular and it’s easy to see why. If you’re looking to open your living space up, why not explore our extensive range and see just how much of an impact a brand new set of French doors can make.

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