There are so many benefits to external French doors. They provide all the safety of modern solid doors with the latest locking mechanisms and security features along with the fantastic lightening, brightening properties of windows. Modern glass technology ensures that unwanted guests remain outside your property. They add that classic, perennially popular appearance to your home appropriate for both period and more modern houses. They are easier to live with on a day to day basis than you may imagine. Here are some of the questions you may be asking yourself before you decide to go ahead and install your own beautiful French doors.
How can you enjoy the benefits of fully open French doors on a beautiful summer’s day without the worry of your toddler wandering out of your sight? There are numerous conversations on advice forums such as Mumsnet and Netmums on this exact topic. The ever popular stair gate can provide a solution here. More and more manufacturers are waking up to this use of their product and are beginning to offer them to fit wider openings or with extensions which allow them to be fitted across a double door opening. The usual high street baby shops may be able to help and you can also check out various baby security websites for further advice and suggestions.
If you’re considering a cat flap, you’ll be pleased to know that your moggy can be equally as well catered for with French doors as with a solid door. If you’re installing a new set of French doors, consult the manufacturers before purchase to find out if they can fit the cat flap in advance. If not, you will need to contact a glazier to get this work done. Double glazing panels are sealed, so it’s not quite as simple as cutting a hole in the glass yourself. The whole glass panel will need to have the cat flap built in during construction. Most glaziers will do this for you at a reasonable cost and you can provide them with your own choice of cat flap. There are also online specialists who can do this work for you including providing the cat flap itself. An extra tip: you might want to hold onto the original glass panel. If you come to sell your house, it’s useful to be able to remove the panel with the cat flap and replace original, should your buyers not be cat lovers.
You may have a vision of sitting out on the patio on the perfect summer’s day, French doors open wide letting the sun stream into your home. We all know that in reality, the wind is sometimes going to blow those doors shut! While we can’t fix the weather, you can fix the doors to avoid that annoying noise.
If your French doors open outwards, you can go down the simple and inexpensive route of fitting a hook and eye device to the outer wall so that you can hook your door open. If you don’t want to fix them entirely against the outside wall, you can fit a chain extension leading from the wall so that you can still hook them open but you’ll have a little more leeway regarding how far they open. The hook and eye solution with a chain also works for inward opening doors.
Another alternative is to fit a door restrictor to the tops of the doors. You can set the restrictor to your choice of angle, holding the door in that position for as long as you choose. Door restrictors can also be set to ensure that your French doors don’t slam shut quickly (a bit like those “soft close” doors on kitchen cabinets and drawers). These can also allay fears of your small children or dogs being caught in the doors should a sudden breeze cause the doors to move.
You can sometimes opt to have an opening panel in one of the side lights if you have them, offering you the best of both worlds. You can have this window open to allow in a gentle breeze without having to open the doors fully. Check out our external french door FAQs for more information on safety, security and the workings of French doors.
This is the perennial summer problem – how to let in the light and make the most of the fresh air without the annoyance of buzzing bugs. Insect screens can solve this problem. They provide a barely visible screen across your open door, held in place magnetically, and act in the same way as roller blinds so they can be rolled away easily when not required.
This might sound like a silly question seen as you’ve gone to all this trouble to install French doors to let in plenty of light! However, there are of course times when you will appreciate some shade so this is an important question. There are numerous solutions to this problem, so here are just a few.
Curtains can provide the ultimate in luxurious window dressing with endless choices in fabric designs and thicknesses to complement your room decor. You can add thermal linings to keep you cosy during the winter and assist with heat retention in your rooms. To avoid interference with opening inward French doors, make sure you install a curtain track or pole which extends well beyond the width of the door opening (including side lights if you have them) so that they can easily be pulled out of the way during the day. This will ensure that you don’t lose any of the wonderful light on sunny days and that you keep the illusion of space that French doors bring to your room.
These can be combined with curtains or used alone. Lace patterns diffuse the light beautifully and allow you to see out while ensuring that nosy neighbours can be kept at bay as they can’t see in from the outside. If this traditional window treatment doesn’t appeal, more contemporary voile panels in a range of fashion shades are also available, giving a wider range of choice than the straightforward white or cream nets of old.
These are particularly fashionable at the moment, giving an appearance that is modern yet traditional at the same time. This means they can suit both period and newer properties. You can match the shade to your walls if you want to make them look less obtrusive. The louvres allow you to filter the light when it’s at its strongest, while allowing plenty of light in when you want to make the most of your French doors’ illuminative properties. They are especially suitable if you’ve taken up most of your wall with French doors and sidelights and so don’t have much room left for heavy curtains at the sides.
These, like curtains, offer the widest choice in fabrics and weights, but don’t rely on you having to take up wall space at the sides of your doors and sidelights. You can fit one extra wide blind across the whole opening so that you can let it fall shut at the pull of a cord, or you can vary your options by installing separate blinds above each section. A whole blind would suit a situation where you want to install everything on the wall above the frame, whereas separate blinds could be installed within the frame. In this case, you can open and close blinds selectively. You can also buy slim brackets which you can use to hold the blinds in place to avoid them flapping in the breeze.
An option which is often forgotten is to mount weatherproof Roman blinds on the outside wall. These can be useful if the whole wall has been taken up with French doors, side lights and top lights and there is little or no room to install blinds or curtains.
These are gaining in popularity at the moment. They work in the same way as roller or Venetian blinds, but the cells trap air to provide more insulation against heat loss.
These too can be bought with insulating properties, and a range of colours allow you to match them to your décor.
You will surely find that the addition of French doors to your home proves to be one of the best home improvements you have made. While bifold doors have been fashionable of late, tastemakers are already moving on to the next big thing. French doors, however, have stood the test of time. They look great in old and new houses alike and are always popular with house buyers. Unlike their more on trend competitors, French doors will always look both classic and fashionable at the same time. They are easy to live with, so much so that you’ll soon begin to wonder how you ever managed without them!