Sliding Doors vs French Doors

  • Beginner

Leading from inside your home to your patio, most homeowners typically choose between French doors and sliding doors. If you have not yet decided on which type is right for you, do a side-by-side comparison of the two. Weigh such factors as cost, safety, aesthetics, and space consideration. Both types will create a portal between outside and in, but they do it with largely different results.

Sliding Doors vs. French Doors

There are other considerations to make, but generally speaking, sliding doors create the illusion of no door while French doors do the opposite. They do not hide the fact that there are doors. Obviously, sliding doors are not invisible, but it is not uncommon for accidents to happen because people didn’t realize the sliding door was shut.


The prices for both types of doors range widely. A quality sliding door set with a screen and vinyl frame will cost around $350 while one with an aluminum frame can cost as much as $600. They typically come pre-assembled but require installation. Depending on where you make the purchase, installation may be included in the price.

French doors made of wood usually come in pine, oak, and mahogany, the last being the most expensive. The higher the quality of the French door, though, the more expensive it will be. Single slab, vintage French doors can be $800 or more. It is not uncommon to pay over $1000 for a well-made set of French doors.


Without a doubt, French doors are safer than sliding doors. This is largely due to the fact that they are obviously doors. The wood frame surrounding a number of window panes, when closed, cannot be mistaken for being open. Sliding doors, on the other hand, because they are often entirely transparent, can be mistaken for being open. Before the days of tempered glass, people could be seriously injured or even killed if they accidentally walked through a sliding glass door. With safety glass that beads up, that does not happen these days, but people are still prone to walking into closed doors thinking they are open.

There is also the issue of spontaneously shattering sliding glass doors. Humidity and weather along with direct sun exposure can help to cause this, although it is rare.


Depending on the motif of your home, one of the two types of doors may fit better with the surroundings. French doors possess a certain elegance, and they can be stained or painted in almost any fashion. They can be installed with extravagant window designs and come with numerous window pane layouts. Sliding doors are sleeker and more modern looking. For homes that want a more open layout, sliding doors create the illusion of less door. Some sliding doors, though, have panes striped to resemble French doors. There is also the matter of the screen. French doors do not have screens while sliding doors do. This is a practical consideration to make, but it is also a matter of taste.


Lastly, space needs to be considered. Sliding doors take up less space because the opening section converges with the fixed section, requiring no outside space. French doors usually open inward and require the freedom to do so. That means that furniture placement must accommodate the doors.

Before you decide on one or the other, consider both the practical and aesthetic concerns of French doors and sliding doors. If safety issues and budget are equal, it is a matter of what looks best with your home’s design and how much space you have available.