French doors -- double doors typically made of many panes of glass separated by metal or wood dividers -- are an ideal way to let lots of light into your home. Plus, they're a bit more stylish and they seal better than a mundane sliding glass door.
But when you're talking about using glass, you've got some choices to make. Taking the time to consider where the doors will be installed, what you're likely to do both indoors and out by the door and what your energy savings should be can help you determine what type of glass will be right for your exterior French doors.
If you're not wanting direct sunlight to come into your room -- perhaps in the case of a home office or bedroom -- you may want to invest in doors with tinted glass.
True tinted glass includes small amounts of metal oxides added to the glass as it is being formed. You can get tints in green, blue, grey or brown hues, so you can choose what best matches your paint colors or other décor.
Rather than include color directly in the glass as it is manufactured, coatings are added to the glass after it is made. This tends to be less expensive than tinting glass, so you might find it more readily available and more affordable.
The right type of coating can give a little color to the panes of glass, but it can also serve a purpose. Ultraviolet coatings block some of the damage that the sun's rays can do, like fading furniture and floor coverings. Heat-reflective coatings can save you money on air conditioning bills in the warmer months.
This is a great option for an exterior door. The double or even triple panes help keep heat from escaping in the winter or entering in the summer. Its insulating properties keep your climate-controlled interior temperature right where you want it to be with less energy wasted.
Insulated glass is also good at minimizing noise from outside. So if you live on a busy street or have another source of sound nearby, consider double-paned panels in your French door.
Tempered glass is recommended for most exterior doors. It is a thicker glass that will shatter into dull, square-shaped pieces but not break into shards, so it is much safer.
Laminated tempered glass offers better security, as well, because it won't break out of the door; this prevents criminals from breaking the glass and entering your home.
In some homes, French doors fit well to lead into a bedroom or bathroom. But you may not want to have others be able to see in, and you don't want to take away from the appearance of your lovely doors by using window coverings. Opaque glass can give you privacy and still let light in.
Some of these features can be combined, depending on your needs. Talk to your door installation contractor, like The Door and Window Store, for more information about the options available in your preferred style of French exterior doors.