What are French Doors?

Dana Hinders

A French door can add a stylish look to any home. These are doors that have multiple small windows — sometimes called "lights" — set into the full length of the door. Because of these lights, they are sometimes called French windows. French doors provide a minimal amount of privacy, so their purpose is primarily decorative in nature. However, they are a popular choice among people who are looking for ways to bring more natural light into their homes.

French doors are made up of panes or panels of glass.
French doors are made up of panes or panels of glass.

A divided lite French door is the traditional type. These doors are assembled from multiple pieces of glass. They also have mullions, or decorative structural elements designed to divide adjacent window panes. Traditional doors are typically made from hardwood.

Exterior doors done in a French style are different from traditional French doors because they are often made of double-pane glass to provide improved insulation. These doors usually have a decorative grille embedded between the panes, although some have grilles that are superimposed over of a single pane of glass. Exterior doors can be one-piece solid doors or sliding doors, depending upon the intended use.

There are many reasons to consider including French doors in a home. When used as patio doors, they help draw attention to a beautiful flower garden or an immaculately landscaped lawn. When used inside, the doors help give rooms a cheerful, airy look while providing a visual bridge between two adjacent living areas. In some cases, a French door can even be bolted into place to act as a substitute for an interior wall.

French doors are slightly more expensive than other types of doors, but they are often considered to be a wise investment. Since they are associated with an “upscale” appearance, they will typically increase a home’s value or curb appeal if the home is sold at a later date. A homeowner on a tight budget who has a solid knowledge of basic carpentry can save money by installing the new doors by himself.

While French doors can provide a beautiful and sophisticated look for a home, they can be quite hazardous in areas that are prone to hurricanes. However, homeowners can still enjoy the look of these doors by installing hurricane shutters. These protective devices will prevent wind and flying debris from shattering the glass in the doors. Hurricane shutters are available in automatic rolldown, accordion, Bahama, awning, and storm panel styles.

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Discussion Comments


@StarJo – I have some folding doors like that, but I also have some French screen doors on the other side of them. I like being able to leave the folding doors open and let even more light in, and with the screen door glass to keep bugs out and keep the climate controlled air in, I can do that.

My French screen doors have a gorgeous pattern made of white wire on the exterior. It looks like a huge heart shape made of three pieces of wire that curl up on the ends.

These doors open outward, and when I have the folding doors pulled back all the way, I have a ton of space for moving furniture in and out. This came in really handy when I bought my new couch. We were able to get the old one out and the new one in without even having to turn them sideways.


I have a sliding French door on the front of my house, and I absolutely love it. The door slides along a railing on the floor that holds the other two doors on either side, and to look at it, you wouldn't expect it to slide. It has a handle that makes you think that you could pull or push it open.

There are multiple square panes all over the doors and a row of matching panes across the top of the doorway. I love the fact that they are all equal in size. In a strange way, the pattern reminds me of waffles!

I have had other doors in the past that were hard to open or didn't latch well. With the sliding French door, those problems are eliminated.


I got some folding French doors put into my dining room, and it took me awhile to get the hang of opening them. I wanted them installed so that I could see the hummingbirds in my flower garden while I sat at the table, and I'm very happy with how much my view has improved.

These doors are mostly made of glass with just a bit of wood running through here and there. What confused me was the fact that some of the sections open one way, while others open another.

In fact, you can fold two sides together on either side of the middle and the whole thing will contract. Otherwise, you can open the two in the middle toward the inside.

I've finally mastered the art of opening the French doors. However, it is funny to watch my guests as they struggle with them.


My husband installed some wooden French doors on my cousin's single-wide mobile home. The home itself looks kind of old and cheap, so the French doors really don't fit in with the overall look.

However, my cousin's wife wanted something to spruce up the place a bit, and French doors seemed like a good alternative to totally redoing the exterior. The doors were fairly easy to install, and my husband had the whole process done in a couple of days.

The only reason it took a couple of days was that he had to let the paint dry on the new wood he had to install around the opening of the door. It needed a second coat the following day.

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