French Door Basics

French doors add a touch of class and openness to just about any room where they are installed.  For many years they have been a popular alternative to the basic sliding glass doors that we grew up with. Replacement of sliding glass doors with french doors is a fairly affordable upgrade.

First a word on terminology:  Many people think that the term “french door” refers to two doors in an opening that swing out of the house.  This is not correct!  French door refers to the type and construction of a door… It consists of a frame, usually wood, forming the borders of the door and glass in the center.  The glass can be a single piece or can be divided up into smaller panels that we call “lites”. Here are just a few of the many possible configurations of french doors.  Click to see larger image:
FrenchDoorsThumb
These are just some of the basic designs.  There are many other styles with arches, curves and asymmetrical layouts.

They can be installed as single doors, pairs of doors, doors with sidelites or doors with transoms.  They swing in, out, fold to one or both sides, slide or they can be double acting. Typical door height is 80” but 84” and 96” are also standard heights.  Standard french door widths range from 24” to 36” in two inch increments.  Sidelites range from about 10” to 20”, also in two inch increments.

The glass can be be clear, beveled, opaque or there are many special order styles of glass to choose from:  Glue chip, reeded, frosted to name a few.  Here is a link to glass choices at one of the manufacturers that I order from:  TM Cobb glass choices. I have installed many french doors that have leaded glass designs available by custom design or stock glass styles from the factory. The different glass choices provide various levels of privacy should that be a concern.

French doors can be used for both interior and exterior installations.  Inside the home or office they are used to separate rooms for privacy while still keeping a an open feeling throughout.  I have installed french doors in hallways, offices, bedrooms, closets and even bathroom doors (using the privacy glass described above).

For exterior use, french doors are usually used as access doors to patio or yard areas at points where we used to put narrow frame aluminum sliding doors.  They can be configured to swing in, out or as sliding french door units.  They are sometimes used as front entrance doors but unless you have a fairly private entry area I would not recommend them with decorative leaded glass or one of the glass styles above to block the view from the street or walkway.

The sliding french door units usually come with an included sliding screen.  Inswing doors allow the use of regular screen doors.  Outswing french doors do not lend themselves to screening unless you use the retractable screens on the inside of the opening.  Looks a bit clunky but is a solution if you require screening.

Exterior french doors are offered in solid wood, vinyl, fiberglass and wood with clad exteriors.  All can be good choices depending on the look that you are trying to achieve and the weather exposure.

I only recommend solid wood french doors if the location has good weather protection.  That includes protection from both sun and rain.  The problem is that most of the stock wood doors that are readily available at home centers or lumber yards are made using veneer construction.  This means that While the door is made of real wood, it is actually constructed of many different pieces glued together and covered with the thinnest wood veneer (or skin) that you can imagine. Just a small amount of water intrusion or expansion and contraction will cause the veneer, especially on the bottom rail, to buckle along the line of the grain.  There really isn’t a good way to repair this once it happens.

The clad doors (wood inside with aluminum, vinyl or fiberglass outside) offer the best of both worlds if you want to varnish the inside of the doors for a natural look. Virtually maintenance free on the outside, they are offered in a variety of stock colors and many offer custom colors at an additional cost.  The interiors are usually left for the homeowner to finish in a paint or stain of their choice. They are generally a bit more expensive than the other options because they are only available as complete prehung units.

Fiberglass french doors are a very popular way to go.  They are what I install for most of my customers.  They are all dual glazed with low e available as an option. Most are installed as single lite (one big pane of glass). This type is offered with snap in grids for the interior to create a 10 lite effect (these are removable for glass cleaning). Another option is internal grids, usually available in white.  These match the style of many of the vinyl windows that have been installed over the last several years.  Another cool option is french doors with internal blinds window units that allow them to be raised or lowered or tilted in or out.

I install french  doors all over San Luis Obispo County…Please call or email me for more information about french door choices.

Tags: , , , ,

25 Responses to “French Door Basics”

  1. Robin Wright says:

    Hi. I am in Louisiana on the north shore of Lake Ponchatrain, about 45 min from New Orleans. My daughter is into recylcing and we found a store called the Green Project, which removes items from old houses and resells. I bought a set of french doors with the intention of putting them in my dining room. I currently have a large window with a semicircle window at the top and cathedral ceiling. I am going to build a small patio outside, but there is no overhang. I have a couple of concerns.

    First, the doors are very heavy and I thought they were solid until I read your blog. There is definitely veneer because it is popping open in a couple of spots. I know how to use wood glue and a c-clamp, but my concern is how to go about painting these doors. There might be lead paint already on them, but I have no history and can’t tell by looking at them. I bought a white semigloss Rustoleum paint. I have a framer that is going to build out the frame (Im going to use composite so hopefully it wont rot), but he does not paint. I kind of want to do it myself but don’t really know if I am approaching this correctly. Can you advise between sanding and painting or just cleaning with mineral spirits and painting? I don’t want to disturb what might be lead based paint, but I also don’t want the new paint to peel and especially want the finished product to be weather-proof. I am terrified of destroying my house because it is 6 yrs old and very nice.I just always wanted french doors in that spot, it would be perfect. Can you advise? I can email you pictures of the doors and the outside of the house. I can’t really spend alot of money. My daughter is going to Loyola in the fall and it is $42k a year. The doors were $138 and the labor will be $250.

    • TheDoorGuy says:

      Hi Robin,
      Thank you for contacting me with your french door concerns.
      I really don’t think that you should try to use these doors for a number of reasons:
      1. Lead paint was banned in 1978 and phased out over the next few years. Current construction practices require that if you don’t know if you have lead paint you either assume that it is or you have it tested to find out. Sanding and machining these doors doors in any way would require containing the dust in a work area with plastic sheeting and wearing respirators and dust control coveralls. Then you dispose of all the dust and above items as if they were hazardous waste.

      2. Per your observation, your doors are already delaminating. If they are exposed to the weather that process will continue if any moisture finds it’s way past the paint to the wood…It just takes a pinhole.

      3. If you do not plan on a substantial overhang to protect your doors I believe that it will be challenging to keep water out of your house. There are a number of specialized parts that would help but your contractor may or may not know what will work in your situation.
      I believe the odds are high that your doors will leak in wind driven rain.

      I strongly suggest that you consider a manufactured french door unit from one of the mainline manufacturers. Here in San Luis Obispo, CA we use a lot of Marvin, Andersen and Milgard door units. They are well engineered and have various systems to keep water out and will be dual glazed and have low e glass for energy efficiency. They will also be available with screen systems should that be a concern.

      I am a big recycler also but I think you will be asking for trouble by using these doors in this location.

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I want to help you!
      Richard The Door Guy

  2. susan switzer says:

    Thank you for the info. In new orleans I saw old french doors opening out and screen doors inside. this allowed for more floor space. can I purchase fiberglass doors so the screen is in and the fiberglass is out. or will they have to be custom made( which I can’t afford!!) thanks
    susan switzer

    • TheDoorGuy says:

      Hi Susan,
      Thank you for your note.
      Outswing french doors are a good option for the reason that you mentioned….You don’t have to allow for the arc of the doors on the inside of your house. The trade off is that they are a little difficult to screen.

      A couple of ways to go:
      1. Most, maybe all, of the manufacturers of patio doors offer screening options for their french door units; inswing and outswing. These choices will typically be swinging, sliding or retractable screens.

      For the outswing french doors you would want to check out sliding or retractable screen systems….Swinging screens would defeat the space saving benefits of outswing french doors. Here is San Luis Obispo, CA We see a lot of Marvin, Andersen and Milgard units. All of these companies offer screening systems to go with their doors.

      2. You can frequently find outswing door units that do not come with screens on the shelves at the big box stores. They are usually very affordable. In fact, I cannot usually buy the parts as cheap as they sell some of these units, much less assemble them too.

      If you opt for one of these units, your only real option would be to purchase after market retractable screen units. There are a number of manufacturers that you can find on line. Most of them are going to be franchise dealers. You buy their unit and they install it for you.

      I see mostly Phantom screens in my area. Homeowners have told me that they are pleased with them. One thing about these retractable systems that I don’t care for is that many of them retract rapidly and slam to the open position. Some companies advertise that their doors don’t slam open, in fact they stay where you put them. I have not seen any of these in person but I would consider the no slam feature worth shopping for.

      These are two ways to solve the outswing french door screen problem. I hope the info has been helpful to you. Please send me a note if you have any more door questions.
      Richard The Door Guy

  3. David Hixson says:

    is rubber on bottom of french doors glued on? If so what steps to get rubber off and new pt on. Thanks

    • TheDoorGuy says:

      Thanks for your question, David.
      Most modern factory french door units have fins and bulb seals that rub on the threshold to create the seal. They are usually attached to the bottom of the door by pressing two fins on top of the seal into grooves in the bottom of the door. Sometimes they are just pressed in and sometimes there are a couple of staples towards either edge of door holding them in place. Take the door down and remove any staples that you see. Pry out the sweep with a flat head screwdriver starting at one end and working your way across bottom of door. Take the seal to a local independent door shop and see if they can order you a new one.

      If that doesn’t work out, you can switch to a door shoe that wraps around the bottom of the door and screws to the face of the door. Trimming of the aluminum shoe and the possibly the bottom of door will be required. This type of shoe is readily available at door shop, hardware store and lumber yard.

      In either case, you should seal the bottom of your door before you reinstall to keep moisture from wicking up and swelling or rotting the door.
      See my article about sealing the bottoms of doors for more information.

      Link to catalog page showing the door bottoms that I was describing.

      I hope this helps and let me know how it goes!

  4. Marsha Gordon says:

    I have really enjoyed your informative site!!!! I only wish you were in the Marietta/Atlanta area to help me with installation of new French Doors. I am thinking about the Smooth Star, possibly internal blinds door. Not real fond of the smaller blinds but I think this would be prettier, neater than my set up now with the 2″ blinds hanging/flopping with opening the Fr. Doors. Would these be hung with 1 solid piece of glass or do some people use the doors with panes and internal blinds? I have the Smooth Star Therma-Tru 6 panel with sidelites that I have recently installed at front entry. REALLY, wish you were in my area to have installed it. Thank yo so very much for having such a helpful, informative website. Sincerely,
    Marsha Gordon

  5. Marsha Gordon says:

    Hello.
    I love your website! Thank you so much!

    I have a Therma-Tru Smooth Star front door unit, and I am now wanting to replace my French doors to also be the Smooth Star. I did not know about the multli-point lock option when the front door unit was installed.

    **Do you recommend the multi-point lock system for my new French Doors? **Can it be keyed like the Schlage lock on the front door?

    I am not a fan of mini-blinds, but I am considering the French Doors with internal blinds. I currently have blinds installed on my French Doors and thought it would be cleaner looking to have the internal blinds.** Do they open/close and raise /lower? **What is your opinion on using the Therma-Tru French Door with internal blinds?

    I see that Therma-Tru has dealers on their website that say Certified Installers.** Would using these particular dealers probably give me a better chance of having the doors installed properly? ONCE AGAIN, I SAY I WISH YOU WERE IN MARIETTA, GA!

    My French Doors lead to my screen porch. It is covered, but sometimes the rain does blow in. **The jams I think are fine, but would you suggest that I replace them with rot-resistant material when replacing the door or not?

    My goal is to have French Doors that offer energy efficiency, security, and beauty.

    Thank you so very much for any assistance you can give me.

    Marsha Gordon

    • TheDoorGuy says:

      Hi Marsha,
      Thank you for contacting me about your french door interests.
      ThermaTru is one of the big dogs in the fiberglass door industry. I have installed many of their doors over the years and can recommend them highly. The only time that I would have a concern about using ThermaTru doors is in an outswing, exposed to the weather situation. This is because they use wood edges on the sides of their doors and I just don’t think it will hold up as well over time as the composite edges used by some other manufacturers such as Plastpro. This is not a huge concern and really doesn’t apply to your situation because you said that your doors are in a covered area.

      Now to answer your questions more directly:
      1. The multipoint lock system is a very good idea. It makes for a more secure installation than the typical flushbolt system that we have used for many years. It is also more convenient to use because you operate all functions from the handlesets and don’t have to bend or reach to operate the flushbolts that I mentioned. Even though warping is not a huge problem on fiberglass doors, the multipoint system will help keep the doors aligned over time.
      The Schlage style C key is usually the default on most keyed door systems. Just be sure that you specify your wishes when you order. If you have your factory keys to the front door, there will be a number on the side of the key. If you give that # to the person that orders your doors, he/she can probably get the lock keyed to your existing key from the factory.

      2. I think the french doors with internal blinds are a good way to go. I have installed quite a few of them and so far none of my clients have had any problems with their operation. They can be ordered to just tilt or to both tilt and raise/lower. Be sure to specify your choice. I would want them to do both. In fact I am not sure why they offer the tilt only function. Here is link to my website page with pics of these doors installed (Was a beautiful day with ocean view in the background!).. The overall look, as you mentioned in your comments, is cleaner and more contemporary. Also easier to clean the windows without fighting with surface mounted blinds.

      3. Regarding certified installers: They will not necessarily provide a better quality installation than a quality door contractor that has not gone through the training. The certification however, does usually indicate that someone has good familiarity with specific products and MIGHT give a customer a little more recourse if something does go wrong with the project. In any case, be sure that the contractor is licensed and bonded in your state and be sure that they have liability insurance and workman’s comp if they have employees. Referrals from friends and neighbors that have had successful contractor experiences are not a guaranty that things will go perfectly on your project but are a good starting point. I would not just depend on referral from guy at the counter at lumber yard because chances are good that they will just refer you to their friend without (perhaps) as much regard for quality.

      4. Your last question about door jambs is a bit complicated. Fitting new doors to existing door door jambs is not as common as it once was. It requires more tools and more problem solving experience than installing a prehung door unit. I was installing doors before they invented prehung doors and have continued to fit doors to existing jambs when it makes sense to do so. It looks like your existing doors are a modern prehung door unit. If they fit well in the opening, operate well and don’t leak air or water I would say the it would be ok to consider using existing jambs if they are in good condition.
      That being said, the certified installers that you mentioned will probably only want to use complete door units and the multipoint locking system that we talked about does not lend itself to onsite door prep and installation. I suggest that you go with a new prehung door unit. With good weather protection that you seem to have I don’t think you have to opt for rot resistant jambs but it does not add a huge amount to overall job cost and is certainly good insurance.

      I think that answers your questions. Fill free to reply back to me with ? or comments. Best of luck with your project!!!
      RC/DG

      • Marsha says:

        Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have really educated me.

        I “hear” you to say that just be sure to get an installer that is reputable with insurance, etc. and that the pre-hung with the multi-point lock is my best bet. I am anxious to see how the multi-point lock works. That is interesting… all works from the handle. Very different from what I have! Will make sure I have my Schlage key with me when I order the door.
        I am leaning toward just going ahead with rot-resistant jambs if the cost is not that much more.
        Yes, I agree, not sure why the option of just tilt with the internal blinds is offered.
        Am having a hard time deciding if I want the internal blinds or doors with grids to mimic my windows. (Am wondering if they might have too much of a contemporary look… my home is more traditional/old world look. Do think I would like to get rid of the surface mounted blinds and like the open look but am concerned about privacy. (Too bad I’m in a neighborhood not beachfront as in your photos!) I will look at the internal blind doors, and if I think I can not be happy with them, I think I will get the door with grids, leave off the surface blinds, and see how that works. Wish I could think of another alternative….

        Are there any special considerations if I decide to go with the door with grids? Do not think I would want the type with grids inside window or the decorative type grids.

        You are wonderful to offer your expertise to me and others! Thank you!!
        MG

        • TheDoorGuy says:

          Hi Marsha,
          Your new front door does not have grids….Is the french door opening in question visible from front door area? Am thinking you could tie the doors together visually and perhaps not involve the windows. Regarding windows: What type of grids do they have? Are they real divided lites ( a bunch of small windows in the frame)? or applied to surface or are they white internal thin grids?

          Fiberglass doors do not have true divided lites. They would come as single lite, dual glazed doors and you would add the applied wood grids to the interior side of doors to give a french door look. They are removable for cleaning glass or if you decide that you don’t like them. If you chose the internal grids (does not seem that you like them) you would not be able to have the internal blinds….Can’t do both.

          RC/DG

  6. Yvonne Burruel says:

    Hello. I am a very confused homeowner. I went to the local home and garden show here in Sacramento, CA to gather information. I have a 5′ window that I want to transform into French doors leading to my new pool in the back yard. In the plan are security doors for safety at night so the french doors need to swing in. That’s in a few months.

    My goodness. The bids have ranged from $6,000 to $2500. Anderson came in at $6,000 but the general contractor that I liked very much says he can do the whole install for $1800 and his door supplier is recommending I use “a door from a door company as compared to a door from a window company” ala Millgard.
    The door guy is recommending a brand call PlastPro and I see on your website that you use that brand as well.
    I am not looking for a door that is going to win awards, just simple glass doors that show my pool when I walk past the bedroom.

    Would you recommend this brand? I can afford the $2500 but not the $6,000 bid.

    Thank you so much for your time.

    • TheDoorGuy says:

      Hi Yvonne,
      Thank you for your inquiry. Those are some wild numbers that you got!

      Andersen manufactures a good door for the money that you pay. They are not the cheapest and they are a long way from the most expensive. They are a well engineered product with easy to follow, complete instructions for installation. A basic inswing 5’0×6’8 unit might cost about $3000 depending on options. These would be prefinished aluminum clad on the outside and unfinished pine on the inside.
      Plastpro makes a good product. Their smooth paintable doors do not have any wood on the edges. They are a composite material…Might even call it plastic. Very durable does not dent, absorb water or rot the way wood doors do. I would think that you could get a basic prehung double door unit for under $1000. Plastpro doors come with 20 year warranty which matches or surpasses the Andersen product. These doors are not prefinished so you would have to paint them after installation.

      Your installer’s price sounds fair for complete installation.

      Things to consider:
      1. You probably don’t have any weather protection over your existing window.
      I would install a sheet metal pan under the unit with routes for water to return to the outside if it sneaks in under or between the doors.
      2. A 5′ french door unit is about the minimum width you would want. It allows about 29″ of walking space through the active door. You did not indicate that you were considering a sliding door unit but I do not recommend them for 5′ widths because the actual walking space is only about 26″
      3. I would be sure that your contractor is licensed, bonded and carries liability insurance and comp if he has employees.
      4. There will probably be wires under the window that will have to be re-routed, perhaps stucco and drywall that will have to be reworked. Contractor should handle that. Best if he co-ordinates painting if possible but that is not always included. Just be sure to clarify.

      I hope that helps a little. Please reply here if you have more ? or comments.
      RC/DG

      • Thank you so much for the above reply. Now on to the next question!
        I want to hang 8′ wood louvered doors on either side of the french doors. I have two quotes and they are hugely far apart. One is for brazillian mahogany 1 3/8th thickness for $299 each and the other is 1 3/4 thick for African mahogany for $1073 each.
        All these doors are going to have to do is open and close, sliding back and forth on a rail. They are basically wood curtains. No twising open, nothing.
        Do you think it would be a mistake to go with the more affordable doors? Thank you very much, Yvonne

        • TheDoorGuy says:

          Hi Yvonne,
          When you get two estimates that far apart it is a good idea to get a third to help you determine which are realistic.
          1 3/8″ doors are fine for your application. Either one of those wood species should stain up just fine. You could also consider pine louver doors….More difficult to stain because they can absorb stain unevenly and must be treated before staining but will be affordable and easy to order through a local door shop. You would control the way the doors line up in the center by the placement of your floor guides.
          Best of luck with project!
          RC/DG

  7. Jenia says:

    thank you so much for a very helpful primer on French doors! there are surprisingly few helpful materials out there. I am wondering if you might suggest a solution for us. we want to install a 5 by 8 French exteriror door unit in the back of our row house in Washington dc. I really like the historic character of cremone bolts but they seem incapatible with the new tri lock systems that many door manufacturers insist on. aesthetically I also don’t really like the standard levers and pulls offered by manufacturers such as Jen welden – is there a compromise solution? security and energy efficiency are also a concern for us. thank you!

    • TheDoorGuy says:

      Hi Jenia,
      Thank you for your inquiry…What a great soulful project you folks are in the middle of! I was exploring your website a bit…Is there a photo gallery of your house somewhere on your site? I could not find it. Would love to see more pics!

      Regarding your french door question~I believe that you are talking about a 5’0 wide by 8’0 high french door unit. Will you require all wood doors to be in keeping with the wooden character of your house or would you be comfortable with fiberglass doors?…Fiberglass paints up just like a wood door and will hold up to the elements much better over time..20 year warranty is typical.

      You should be able to find a local full service door shop in your area that could order or make you up a door unit using a couple of ThermaTru 2’6×8’0 single lite fiberglass doors (or wood doors if you prefer). Cremone bolts can be a little challenging. Everything has to line up just right for them to work correctly. Because you live in a historic area, I would think there should be a number of finish carpenters that have experience with them that could do the installation for you.

      Most cremone bolts are set up for one sided operation. I did a little noodling around online and found this site that has a set with keyed access outside if you need it : http://www.kilianhardware.com/cremonebolts.html . If you do not require keyed access, Baldwin hardware offers a full line of Cremone bolt systems in many finishes.

      I hope this helps a bit…Feel free to comment back if you would like to bat this around a little more.
      Best of luck with project!!
      RC/DG

  8. Jan says:

    Hi,

    I was very impressed by your website and for all of your helpful advice. I only wish that you were closer to me so I could hire you to replace (3) sets of French doors. Do you know of a good door company or a good door contractor in the San Diego/North County area?

    I would like to get your recommendation for the best fiberglass French door manufacturer, hopefully without any exposed wood. So far, I haven’t been able to find a manufacturer that will honor their warranty because my house is a half mile from the ocean and has no roof overhang. I don’t like the idea that I am out of luck if a problem develops and I want to do everything possible to avoid that scenario.

    What type of hardware is best to use for this situation? Should I order the doors without hardware and order stainless steel hardware from a different company? My existing steel French doors are rusting through, due to the harsh conditions. It is very important to me that the new doors are as low maintenance as possible. Also, is it better to replace the door jambs in a stucco house built in 1987? I am concerned about stucco damage and water intrusion and don’t want to worry about any problems in the future. Do you feel that there is any advantage of smooth skin fiberglass over textured wood grain fiberglass? Is there an advantage of a factory painted finish over one that requires painting by the contractor? Also, how do you feel about painted hinges?

    I am on a budget and would prefer to stay under $9,000 installed for the (3) sets of French doors. I have (2) 6 ft. doors and (1) 5 ft. door. All (3) sets are 80″ high, swing-out doors, 1-lite without blinds. I do not want screens at this time but may want to add them later.

    I would really appreciate your thoughts on this and would love to receive a referral.
    Thanks so much for your help.

    Sincerely,
    Jan

    • TheDoorGuy says:

      Hi Jan,
      Thank you for your inquiry. I do not know anyone in your area that I could recommend personally. I would suggest that you deal with a well established full service local door and window specialty store. I am sure that there are a couple in your area that could help with your door purchase and installation.
      Plastpro is good manufacturer of fiberglass french doors. They do not have any exposed wood. The tops and bottoms of the doors are a composite material and the edges are some type of plastic. As far as I know they will warranty their doors in a full exposure location( I could be wrong). There are a number of clad door systems worthy of your consideration but most will probably not fit into your budget by the time installation and painting is complete.
      For hardware I would recommend stainless steel hinges and locks on your outswing doors. Your steel doors are an old and failed system…Fiberglass or clad are the way to go.
      As far as installation goes, the best long term solution is to remove the door jambs and install new complete units with proper flashing and pans under the thresholds. You can order the doors prehung on composite door jambs (from Plastpro) or treated wood jambs (Auralast). I am comfortable with either one in exposed situation. Request that they seal the ends of the door jambs before installation.
      You can trim out the outside of the units with specially treated wood pieces (Bodyguard) or composite materials (AZEK). Caulk ferociously with high quality polyurethane caulk…No silicone. The other way ( arguably better) to finish the exterior is to break the stucco back six inches or so around the opening and flash properly with the black peal and stick flashing (Nashua), install new composite stucco moulding, restucco and repaint the affected areas. Costs more but might be a better solution.
      As far as smooth or textured doors goes, it is just an aesthetic decision….Won’t affect durability one way or the other. Factory finish may be smoother but you run the risk of it being damaged during construction and you have to paint trim and fill nail holes anyway so probably just as well to have your contractor paint after installation….Painted hinges are ok but will rust because of the base metal under them…I like stainless for your situation.
      I would think that you could stay under the $9000 ceiling but cannot speak to that with authority because I do not know your area….Talk to a couple of different suppliers and contractors and see what you can learn.
      I hope that helps and best of luck with your project!!
      RC/DG

  9. Jan says:

    Thank you so much for answering all of my questions and for all of your helpful information. I have a few follow-up questions, now that you helped me narrow down my choice to Plastpro. I had a couple of window and door stores give me an estimate but their installation is done by an outside general contractor and they are using pre-hung doors from the factory. My other option is working directly with a finish contractor that would be ordering the Plastpro doors not pre-hung and he would be assembling the French doors in his shop. He mentioned that a lot of time the pre-hung doors get damaged in shipping and he has better control with the quality if he puts the doors together himself. In your opinion, will I be getting a better product with the pre-hung doors from the factory or with the installer assembling them first? The estimates for the pre-hung doors through the stores were less expensive than the contractor doing the work himself.

    Also, I would like to use stainless steel hardware as you suggested and have been looking at the Emtek line. Would I be able to use their multi-point locking system with the Plastpro French doors? I like the hardware used on more expensive door companies like Milgard Ultra and Anderson but is there something similar that can be used with Plastpro? Do you like to install the levers on just one door or on both doors so they match? Do you like to install back plates behind the levers? If so, do you recommend the 1 1/2″ x 11″ or the 2″ x 10″ size plate? I want the doors to have an updated appearance but still be timeless in design. I welcome any suggestions that you have.

    It is wonderful that you are offering such much needed advice. Thank you so much for taking the time to educate me and hopefully others. French doors are beautiful, yet expensive and I don’t want to make a mistake. I have searched for information everywhere and your website is the best that I have found.

    Thank you again for your help,
    Jan

    • TheDoorGuy says:

      Hi Jan,
      I have said exactly the same thing as your finish carpenter many times over the years. It is usually cheaper to have the doors prehung at a factory but you do run the risk of damage during shipping and also people not taking the time to carefully choose, fit and assemble the parts correctly. Dealing with your finish carpenter locally makes it easier to make decisions and also he has his name on the whole project….No finger pointing! Unless cost is the most important factor, I would deal with him. He is saying all of the right things. You also can ask him to see some of his local work. I’m pretty sure that would be possible and you can get a feel for the kind of craftsman he is.
      Regarding your hardware questions:
      1. I am fairly certain that you can use the multipoint locking system with the Plastpro doors. It would be a good idea to call their customer service and verify that. Their number is (800) 779-0561. The installation is a bit different than standard bore hardware but your finish guy sounds like he has the skills to make it happen.
      2. I like to see hardware on both the active and inactive doors. It used to be the standard approach. Nowadays many people opt for hardware on active door only. Probably mostly to save the cost. You can get by with just a couple of flushbolts to hold the inactive door closed or they make tbolts for between the doors that have the slide bolts built in.
      3. The knobs/levers and backing plates that you chose are strictly personal preference. Emtek makes a variety of plates that go with their various levers and knobs. Personally I like their sandcast bronze line with large rectangular back plates. Their stainless line is going to have a much more contemporary/modern look to it.

      I hope this helps a bit….Best of luck with the project!
      RC/DG

  10. Ssg says:

    Hello. What an excellent site. I have an emergency question. We have new construction with several sets of Andersen 400 French doors. We did not think much about the swing dirt toon until the last minute and must now decide. We have enough room to handle in seing but were thinking out Swing fo Bigger/ open feel. Three doors would open to courtyard who h steps down 6-8 inches which leads us to think in swing is better (?)
    Also maybe in Swing best to protect doors from elements.
    Would love to hear your thoughts.
    Thank you !

    • TheDoorGuy says:

      Hi there,
      Thank you for your question.
      You have hit on a number of the same points that occur to me.
      Outswing is usually better for usage of your interior space
      because it does not require room for the door to swing.
      It’s not as easy to screen outswing doors because you really
      don’t want to see traditional screen doors on the inside of
      your house. About all you can do if you want screens is to use
      the retractable type that roll up into a tube
      on either side of the opening.

      Regarding weather protection: I think the only real weak
      spot that outswing doors have is across the top of the doors.
      Wind driven rain can get in to that gap and perhaps
      work it’s way in to the interior face of the doors or collect
      on top a little.
      The spaces on the sides of outswing doors really are not
      a problem because if water gets in those gaps, gravity
      will take it down to the threshold where it is directed outside.
      The bumper threshold on the inside of outswing doors also
      directs water to the outside. Inswing doors might be a little
      more weather resistant by their nature but not much.
      Most any of the modern better quality door units are very
      good for weather resistance. I would suggest choosing
      inswing or outswing based on the aesthetics and how you
      are going to use the space.
      I don’t think I understand your comment about 6 to 8 inch
      steps. Hopefully you have some type of landing outside
      the doors whether they swing in or out. Especially
      for outswing configuration.

      I hope that helps a bit. Please feel free to write back
      with ? or comments.

      Best of luck with the project!!
      RC/DG

  11. Adrian says:

    Hello Door Guy,

    I have a somewhat related situation. We live in a Queen Anne Victorian from the early 1900s. We have double front doors, each of which is about 21″ wide. The right one opens regularly with a doorknob and a mortise lock; the left one is fixed with flush bolts set in the top and bottom of the door. This means that people have to twist and come into the house sideways because we can only open half the door easily. I’m wondering if there is some way to have the left door open with a knob–some sort of cremone bolt, but set inside the door so it’s not visible. That way we could turn the two knobs simultaneously and pull both doors open. I’ve been searching around the web and concealed vertical rods sound good, but they all seem to be activated by crash bars and open out–while I want something that is activated by a doorknob and opens in. And cremone bolts all seem to be surface mounted, which doesn’t work either. Can you suggest anything?

    Thanks,
    Adrian

    • TheDoorGuy says:

      Hi Adrian,
      That is one skinny door that you have there Sir!
      You might be able to adapt a multi point locking unit to that door. They are used frequently in french door installations. They are installed in a vertical slot in the edge of the door and operate from a lever at lock height . They act like the cremone bolts that you mentioned but are all internal. You would want a model that just pushes the bolts straight up and down into the head jamb and threshold.
      It would require some fairly solid finish carpentry skills to alter and prep the door as needed to accept the unit.
      The standard ones come in very specific heights from the various manufacturers. You might get lucky and find a stock one that will fit your door.
      These guys might be able to do a custom height for you:
      http://www.allaboutdoors.com/ .
      Probably best to give them a call to explain your situation.
      If you can find a unit that will fit your door, before you order it , check here : Emtek Multipoint Lock Trim and be sure that you can get a trim that you like for the lock system that you found.

      I hope that helps a bit!
      RC/DG

Leave a Reply