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What Are The 5 Key Differences Between French Doors And Patio Doors?

In this article, we will cover:

  • The key differences between French doors and patio doors
  • What to consider when choosing your doors
  • Cost comparisons

French doors can be used as patio doors but have other functions. Patio doors could be French doors but can be a different kind of door, such as sliding doors. 

In this blog, we will explain the five key differences between French doors and (other kinds of) patio doors to help you make the right choice for your home and lifestyle.

What are French Doors?

French doors, also known as French windows, are attractive doors that open and close by swinging on hinges. They originated in France, hence the name, during the 17th-century French Renaissance period to bring more natural light and fresh air into homes. They were designed as elongated windows, which could be opened and closed quickly and easily due to their hinges. They are usually double doors and remain predominantly glass with different frames. 

What are Sliding Patio Doors?

There are different types of patio doors, including French doors, but we are primarily looking at sliding patio doors. These doors run horizontally on a track, allowing you to decide how ‘open’ you need them to be at a given time. They consist of large panels of glass in a slim aluminium or UPVC frame. The panels slide behind one another and can vary in size, design, and configuration.

Key Differences Between French Doors and Patio Doors

While the main difference is how each type of door opens, they also differ in appearance, functionality, ventilation, and energy efficiency.

Design and Appearance

Patio doors typically have a more modern aesthetic than French doors. However, styles of French doors have increased in recent years to fit a contemporary look and heritage properties. French doors still tend to have a chunkier look, so bear that in mind when making your decision.

Functionality and Space

While French doors open inwards or outwards on hinges, sliding patio doors operate on a track. French doors require more space, eating into your room or garden when open. Due to the sliding panels, sliding doors cannot be fully opened.  

Light, Glass, and Frame

Patio doors and French doors each offer plenty of natural light in the home. As mentioned, this was the original purpose of French doors, and they continue to help maximise natural light today. Patio doors perform the same function, and both offer vast, largely uninterrupted views.

This is particularly true of aluminium sliding patio doors with ultra-slim sightlines. French doors can also be aluminium or UPVC, but timber versions tend to have larger/heavier frames.  

Both styles of doors are available at Manchester Window Factory with your choice of glazing, including integral blinds, self-cleaning glass, and Planitherm energy-efficient glass

Ventilation Privacy & Security

Both styles of door allow for plenty of ventilation, but you have more control over how ‘open’ you want your doors with sliding patio doors. This means you can just open the door a crack to let some fresh air in and clear any condensation on cooler days.

The doors perform equally well in terms of security. All Manchester Window Factory doors offer multi-point locking systems, Ultion door barrels and toughened laminated glass. The sliding doors have anti-removal technology, so a would-be intruder cannot lift a panel off the track to gain access to your home. The hinges on your French doors will lock into one another, so the door cannot be easily removed from its hinges.

Laminated glass can also help with privacy, as the uninterrupted views can come at the price of privacy. You can also opt for frosted or obscure glass in some cases. 

Energy Efficiency

Our doors have air-lock seals as standard. The double or triple glazing offers excellent energy efficiency, and the gaps between panes are filled with Argon gas for maximum insulation. 

Sliding patio doors are slightly more energy efficient, purely because it takes longer to fully open or close French doors, making it easier for heat to escape. 

You can check the U value of any of our doors. Please ask if you need help.

Considerations for Choosing Your Door

How Do You Want Your Door to Open? 

Whether you choose French doors or sliding patio doors will depend partly on how you want your doors to open. This may be determined by the occupants or the typical weather conditions in your location. For example, if you have small children or pets, you may prefer the safety of sliding doors over the possibility of French doors swinging shut without warning. This is especially true if you live in a windy spot. Alternatively, you can fit hooks and locks to ensure the doors stay open until you close them manually.

Size Requirements

The size of the space will also help determine which is the better choice for you. 

If you have a large space to cover, sliding patio doors may be a more appropriate solution. Aluminium sliding doors can be made to fit most sizes. They also don’t require a lot of floor space. On the other hand, if you have a large garden or patio area, French doors that open outwards can create a beautiful transition between your home and your garden. 

Materials and Durability

Traditionally, French doors had solid timber frames. Timber frames are still popular today, but you can also get composite, UPVC and even aluminium French doors. 

Similarly, sliding patio doors can be UPVC or aluminium but are unlikely to be made of timber due to their sliding function. 

Aluminium is the most durable, but you will also get a 10-year insurance-backed guarantee on UPVC or timber doors.

Cost Comparison

Your budget will be a major factor when you are choosing doors or windows. 

On average, patio doors are cheaper than French doors. But that is not true of the lowest-end prices. French doors range from around £300 to £2,500, while you would expect to pay £400 – £1,500 for sliding patio doors.

Factors that affect the price include:

  • The materials used
  • The size
  • The complexity of design
  • Your choice of glazing
  • Your choice of fixtures and fittings
  •  Tricky installation


You also need to factor in the reduction in heating bills from installing either type of door and the potential added value to your property. Depending on the style and size of your space, French doors or sliding patio doors can be an attractive feature, adding to the ‘curb appeal’ for potential buyers. 


When choosing between French doors and patio doors, the main factors to consider are the size and accessibility of the space, your budget, your lifestyle, and, of course, personal preference. 

Both types of doors are customisable, so you can create French or sliding patio doors tailor-made for your home. 

If you’re still unsure or simply want a second opinion, we’re on hand to help. Drop us an email, call us, or fill in our online contact form for a free, no-obligation quote. We also have an Altrincham showroom, with the latest opening times on our website. 

We look forward to hearing from you. 

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