Internal French doors are a great way to aid the spread of light through a home, and thereby heighten the sense of space. They’re suitable for use just about everywhere in the home, and if used wisely can transform a living space – both in terms of function and aesthetics.
Let’s take a closer look at this technology, and see how we might get the best from it.
French doors always come in pairs, with a frame that’s just over two metres tall. A standard pair is around 1250mm wide, though if you’re shopping for a hole that’s slightly irregular you might be able to find a little leeway either side of this figure. If you’ve got an opening that’s severely oversized, you might opt to extend the wall to match the dimensions of the door you have in mind.
On the other hand, there are also ways of expanding a set of French doors with the aid of ‘transom’ windows and ‘sidelights’. These are windows which are designed, respectively, to sit at the top of a set of French doors, or to either side of them. If you’ve got an especially wide or tall space that you feel could do with an especially wide or tall door, a set of French doors with extra window-space to match might do the trick nicely.
French doors come in several different materials, but of these hardwood, and particularly oak, are the most popular. In order to cut costs and avoid warping, engineered wood is a popular choice – a high-quality engineered door will retain most of the looks of a solid-wood one, but it’ll tend to last much longer and resist warping.
When you’re buying wooden doors of any kind, you’ll have the option of either buying them pre-finished, or buying them unfinished and doing the work yourself. If you’d like to choose an unusual finish or match your doors to the surrounding décor, finishing yourself might be an attractive option. If you’d prefer to have your doors ready-to-go, then getting them ready-finished will probably be wisest.
Unfinished doors, despite their name, are rarely entirely unfinished – they often come ready-coated with primer, which will protect the wood when you come to apply your varnish, wax, or paint of choice. Since all primers look pretty much the same, this will save you a little bit of trouble when you come to do the work. Just remember to use masking tape to protect the glass!
All French doors are glazed. The exact configuration of glass panels in the door will be informed by the personal preference of the person buying it. A classic set would see the top of each door covered in a two-by-eight grid of rectangular glass panels – but a whole array of more exotic and unusual styles are available. You can read our dedicated article to find out more about the different types of french doors available.
If you’re in need of a little bit of privacy, then you might attach a curtain or blind to the inside of the door, or opt for frosted or obscure glass. Frosted glass has been treated to create a rough surface on one side, so that light diffuses as it passes through. This means you won’t be able to see anything through the glass, but you will be able to receive light. Obscure glass of this sort tends to come ready-etched at the factory, but its effect can be convincingly replicated at home with the help of a can of spray-on coating.