GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Exterior Double Doors

nynick | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

We are in the middle of planning a total renovation of an old, farmhouse/ modified cape type home in CT. We have now had two meetings with our architect to develop plans. In 3 separate house locations she is recommending exterior double doors (French doors). She feels they will go with the existing architecture better than sliding/gliding doors and that they give a full opening instead of half an opening. We are trying to maximize the views.

I’m concerned about air leakage. I’ve never been confident double doors would seal particularly well and I’ve already got my work cut out for me sealing the rest of the structure.



GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. gusfhb | | #1

    A French door with a single opening panel is a lot easier to seal than true double opening

  2. Expert Member


    I agree with Keith. Go for the look, but with either a fixed panel, or a window which appears similar. I've made the mistake of using French doors on various designs - including my own home - and I can count on one hand the times we have opened both doors.

    I do agree with your architect though - sliding patio doors are even further down the list of things I'd include, especially on the renovation of an old farm house.

  3. nynick | | #3

    Thank you Keith and Malcolm. I suppose it's more a modified cape than farmhouse, but these people just added on as needed back in the day.

    The idea of double doors with only one that operates is a good one for two out of three of the locations. The 3rd is a tough one as it will be often used and in the main family room leading down to the water.

    I get that sliding or gliding doors don't fit architecturally, but with mullions etc they can be made to look ok.

    Lots to think about.


    1. mgensler | | #6

      Agree with Malcolm. We have a combination of doors in our house. All are Andersen 400 series, 18 years old. The single in swing seal the best, double in swing are second, and our slider is the worst by far. Will never do a slider again.

  4. Expert Member
    Akos | | #4

    I was at a cottage a while back that had tilt and turn windows for a bunch of French doors. These ware basic uPVC with double pane glass, they still felt way more solid than any standard patio door. The only limitation is they have to be in-swing.

    If you need a non standard size, the cost of is comparable to a custom door.

    1. nynick | | #5

      Really? Like Shuco type windows but door sized? Those would be great. They actually have a plant near us but they only make aluminum windows there($$$). I plan on visiting their showroom in NYC this summer so I will definitely check out that option! Thanks!

      1. Expert Member
        Akos | | #10

        Yup, that is what they looked like, the exterior door handle was a bit awkward but that is about it. Tilt and turn frames are much beefier than North American window frames so you can do very large operable elements.

  5. gusfhb | | #7

    Swinging doors of good quality can be had at many price points.
    If it is view rather than function, one of the things I learned from the old book 'From the Ground Up' was sightlines. When you look out a window what are you looking at? If there is a deck outside, everything below 3 feet is the deck rail . Point being glass is always lossy, and less glass is less lossy, so depending on what you are actually looking at, a single glass door with standard windows on each side can provide as much a true 'view' as full height glass

    1. nynick | | #11

      I own that book. 1976. Wow.

      1. gusfhb | | #13

        Bought one in 1985, wore it out and had to find a new one.
        Every single piece of information you need to design and build a house.
        Plus some hippie philosophy
        Insulation and glass technology has passed it by, but you can get over that

  6. charlie_sullivan | | #8

    We replaced a 6-foot wide sliding glass door with a ~3x3 window and a 3' wide door with a mostly full glass window. It's great. The space near it feels warmer in the winter, it looks much nicer inside and out, and the door is easier to use. 3-feet wide is wide enough for most purposes. As Keith says, the window doesn't need to come down to the ground level for the view. The only reason we got the glass in the door to come down low was for pets to see out and for us to see pets at the door outside. It turns out to also be useful for watching the groundhog eat plants on the deck.

  7. user-5946022 | | #9

    I used two sets of sliding door.
    For one location, it is a three panel with 2 fixed one slider; I wish I had used fixed panels and a swing door.
    For the other location, it is a four panel with 2 fixed, 2 slider. That works well for what it is, but I think a pair of operable outward opening french doors would work equally as well as be less leaky.

    1. user-5946022 | | #12

      I also wanted to add one other consideration: Smartlocks on a sliding glass door are generally unavailable, with a few limited exceptions. So if you want to be able to enter/exit via a smartlock at these door locations, definitely select the french doors that swing and have typical locking mechanisms. If you select sliding door, and want smartlocks, you need to order them with the door, and be aware the options are limited. ie you may decide to standardize your smart system on zigbee protocol, but the only locks available for your brand door are wifi, etc.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |