French Doors vs. Sliding Glass Doors: Everything You Need to Know

Becca Stokes
Written by Becca Stokes
Updated December 10, 2021
 An open living room with french doors
Photo: Ursula Page / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • French doors are more expensive, but they’re popular among homeowners seeking a classic design scheme.

  • Sliding doors are less expensive and give homes a modern look with plenty of light.

  • Both should be installed by professionals to ensure no structural problems arise.

  • Both can add beauty to a home.

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Choosing a new door for your porch or patio is all about what matters most to you. French doors provide a classic look whereas sliding glass doors are more modern and more affordable. Let’s break down how they really compare before you decide which is best for your home.

Pros and Cons of French Doors

Stylish room interior with glass doors
Photo: Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

French doors operate the way other standard doors do, swinging open and closed courtesy of a set of hinges. French doors are made up of two-door panels with numerous glass panes for letting in light

A popular choice for homeowners, there are a number of benefits—and some drawbacks—to this type of patio door.

Pros

  • Secure: French doors, while made of glass, provide more security and protection than other types of glass doors. They are equipped with multiple lock points and are made of smaller glass panes instead of large ones.

  • Aesthetically pleasing: French doors are popular with homeowners who want a more traditional or classic look.

  • Large entryway: Because both doors can be unlocked and open, the doorway makes moving large furniture in and out of the home quite easy.

Cons

  • They swing open: Because French doors don’t slide, they take up more room in your home when open. 

  • Expensive: French doors are usually more expensive, costing homeowners anywhere between $500 and $4,000.

Pros and Cons of Sliding Glass Doors

A bedroom with wooden floor and sliding glass door
Photo: coralimages / Adobe Stock

Sliding or gliding doors open and close via a single horizontal track built into the doorway’s frame. Like French doors, they let in a lot of natural light.

Pros

  • Affordable: Sliding glass doors typically cost between $1,000 and $2,600, depending on how many panes of glass are needed. 

  • Modern: Sliding glass doors are a popular choice for those who enjoy their more modern design feel. 

  • They slide open: Unlike French doors that swing open, sliding glass doors, well, slide. This saves you floor space when the door is in use. 

Cons

  • Can be finicky: Sliding glass doors can come off their track, become unsealed over time, or even leak water during a rainstorm

  • Not as secure: Because sliding glass doors are a large area of glass and only lock in one point, they’re not as secure as French doors. 

French Doors vs. Sliding Glass Doors

French doors and sliding glass doors are both good choices for your home, provided you do your research and know what makes them different. 

Appearance​

French doors have a wider frame, which makes them a popular choice for those who want a classical look in the home. Though sliding glasses have more narrow frames, which contribute to a very modern feel. 

Most aesthetically pleasing: Either, depending on your personal style

Durability​

The hinges that hold up French doors develop problems faster than the rolling track of sliding doors. That’s because rather than being supported along all sides by a frame, they hang on hinges and that weight can cause the doors to need to be adjusted more frequently. 

The material used will also impact the lifespan of both products. Wood tends to rot which leads to durability issues, whereas vinyl can take a lot more. All that said, French doors have a longer lifespan than sliding doors. The average lifespan of a vinyl French door is between 30 and 50 years, while the average life of a sliding door is 20 years. 

Sturdy and Long-Lived: French doors

Ease of DIY-Ability​

Installing a French door or a sliding glass door isn’t an easy task. In addition to requiring very specific measurements, the doors themselves can be extremely heavy. Though there are sliding glass door kits readily available online, we recommend that you leave the installation and any repairs to a local door professional.

Most DIY-Friendly: Neither; leave both projects to the pros 

Maintenance​

Because French doors have over 200 pounds literally hanging on their hinges, they are hard to repair. Expect to spend about $220 to adjust or repair your French doors.

Sliding glass doors are easier to maintain. To keep them operational, you simply must keep the track clean and the rollers operating, something homeowners can do themselves without calling a pro.

Easiest to maintain: Sliding doors

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