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Exterior patio image featuring a 2-panel open Inswing French Door with Prairie 9-Lite Simulated Divided Lites in Pebble Gray exterior finish with Brushed Chrome hardware and a Beige sill

What are French Doors? Styles + Types to Consider

French doors, also known as hinged doors, have an elegance that other patio doors can’t match. Their design fits in some places better than sliding or folding patio doors. Searching for the best exterior French doors for your home? Learn the differences between French door styles to help find the right one for your home

Why Are They Called French Doors?

French doors get their name from French windows. Centuries ago French architects used side-by-side casement windows to add light to rooms. French windows later evolved into doors in the U.S. as builders added hinges and door handles.

Types of French Doors

Marvin Replacement exterior French doors are available in single, double, or triple-panel hinged configurations. If you are tight on space, we offer a sliding door that features the same design appeal of a classic French door.

The type of French door you choose depends on preference and space considerations. A single-hinged French door works well in smaller rooms. A double-hinged or sliding French doors need more space to open. They can bring in more natural light in bigger rooms, like your living room. Double-hinged French doors also increase fresh air more than a single-hinged French door. 

Outswing French Doors and Inswing Doors

Picking French doors that swing out of a home or French doors that swing into a home comes down to where you live and personal preference. If you live in a colder climate, such as Boston, an inswing French door works better . With an inswing French door you won’t have to try to open it into a snow pile. If you live in a warmer area, like Raleigh, NC, you might prefer an outswing French door with a screen.

Single-Hinged French Door

Single-hinged exterior French doors work well in kitchens and bedrooms. They will swing inwards or outwards and can lighten a darker area well. Marvin Replacement offers a single-hinged inswing French door.

Double-Hinged French Doors

Double-hinged exterior French doors fit best in bigger spaces. They often appear in living rooms that open to a patio. They can also open inwards or outwards. Depending upon the configuration, one door can remain fixed or both doors can open. The extra door adds more natural light. Our inswing French doors come in single hinged, 2-, or 3-panel varieties.

Sliding French Door

If you don't have room for swinging doors, a sliding French door provides the perfect solution. Marvin Replacement’s Sliding French door can have 2, 3 or 4-panel configurations. They can span up to 16-feet wide for bright views.

French Door Materials

Exterior French doors are typically built with vinyl, wood, fiberglass, or aluminum. Each material has its pros and cons. It’s important to know the differences so you can find the best French door for your home.


Fiberglass sliding French doors and inswing French doors offer the perfect mix of style, and durability. Marvin Replacement’s Ultrex® fiberglass is 8x stronger than vinyl. It also has an acrylic finish that is 3x thicker than the competition, so it’s virtually maintenance-free. Plus, you can paint Ultrex fiberglass to match a home.


Vinyl French doors appeal to homeowners because of their affordability and versatility. Vinyl can come in a variety of colors. Vinyl French doors can warp over time because they can expand in the summer and contract during winter as temperatures change. You can compare vinyl vs. fiberglass to see which material works best for you.


Homeowners choose wood French doors for the classic look. You can also paint or stain wood to match the rest of the home. Wood patio doors may need regular maintenance to prevent any potential wood rot, mold, or mildew issues.

Exterior French Door Pros and Cons

French doors have advantages over other patio doors and they can have a disadvantage. The location of French doors in your home makes a difference since they need to swing free.

French Door Pros

  • Adds more natural light

  • Allows fresh air in

  • Add design appeal

  • Sliding French doors offer space-saving operation

  • Hinged (in-swing) French doors maximize outdoor living spaces

French Door Cons

  • Hinged doors need room to open and close

Energy Efficient French Doors

The material and glass options you select make French doors energy efficient. Ultrex fiberglass insulates well to keep your home comfortable. Marvin Replacement offers four Low E glass coating options to suit your climate best. Knowing how to choose the best windows and patio doors for your climate makes a difference in your home. Southern homes will want specific glass options to reduce the impact of the sun. Northern homes will find different glass coatings allow solar heat into a home.

How to Secure French Doors

Marvin Replacement French doors feature a multi-point locking system. Our French doors latch securely in four spots: the top, bottom, and two spots at the handle. The handle features a deadbolt lock and a keyed cylinder. 

French Door Installation

The benefit of choosing a Marvin Replacement French door is we’ll handle the installation of your French door. We’ll arrange a time that works for you and complete the installation professionally so you’ll enjoy your new French door.

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