If you've fallen for the glamour and sophistication that French doors bring to a home, it would be hard to blame you. Big, wide, and open, the only question might be if you can fit them into your current layout. Consulting with professional door installers gives us an answer for anyone wondering, just what is the standard size of French doors?
Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
The average size of French doors is 80 inches tall and 72 inches wide. However French doors are commonly available between five and eight feet wide. That means you can use them as entryways to rooms of various sizes.
Keep reading to learn more about measuring for the size you need, how to pick the right door for you, and how and where you can include French doors in your home design.
Typical French Door Sizes
The actual door size varies from one manufacturer to another. The height comes in 80 inches, 84 inches, and 96 inches (which corresponds with the height of standard door frames). Doors are easily found in widths of five to eight feet. The door size generally increases by a couple of inches at a time. Sidelites, vertical panes of glass beside the door that do not open or move, can take up additional space.
Since French doors are designed to let in natural light from outside, they are most often used as exterior doors. In addition, they are installed in areas where wide doors can fit (as a wider door will let more light inside). When extra-big doors are desired, options are available up to ten feet wide.
Variations To Standard French Doors
All of this talk of large doors isn't to say that wide exterior doors are the only option. French doors can also be used both in small spaces and as interior doors. If you really like the look of French doors, there's nothing stopping you from finding a place for them in your home.
It's important to remember that you'll need not just an opening for the door, but also need enough room for the doors to swing as they open - this important point is one reason some people choose a smaller door. Doors for a small space can come as small as 18 inches wide (in a set of two doors). This creates a total opening that is three feet wide, the same size as even the smallest standard door.
French doors also have many possibilities as interior doors. Since they are so open and revealing, they work well for shared spaces in a home. For example, they may divide the space between the kitchen and living room; or the dining room and kitchen. They are relatively uncommon in areas where privacy is desired, such as a bedroom, though curtains can be installed if needed.
How Do You Measure For French Doors?
First, you need to remove the molding from the interior of the door frame. You can't accurately measure the rough opening of the door space with the molding in the way. Then, you'll measure the height and width of the opening. For height, measure from the threshold nose to the bottom of the header. For width, measure from one side of the rough opening to the other. You will also need to measure the jamb depth.
Last, you will need to determine if your door opens in (inswing) or out (outswing). You should also stand outside the door to tell if it opens with the left or right hand. For a demonstration of measuring French doors, take a look at this video:
Should French Doors Open In Or Out?
When deciding which way your door should open, there are obviously only 2 choices - in or out. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The answer may be simple in the case of a replacement door. In this case, you may have to install doors that open the same way the previous door did. To change the direction of the door will require you to replace the doorframe and casing. If you didn't intend on that extra work, that might be as far as you need to look for an answer.
If that isn't enough to settle the matter, let's explore some considerations for both kinds of doors.
This is another point that may settle the in-or-out issue immediately. In order to open, in any direction, French doors require a wide area that is clear from any obstruction. You'll also need to leave enough room for you to comfortably stand as you pull the door open or shut. In many settings, there's only enough space for the doors to have their full range of motion in one direction.
Outswing doors are more weather-resistant. In inclement weather, they are less likely to let water leak in. However, they can be impossible to open if there's a significant amount of snow outside. If these doors will need to remain accessible and you live in a heavy snow area, inswing doors may be the only choice for you.
Doors that open out are more resistant to break-ins and burglars. The one vulnerability is that, with the hinges on the outside, a burglar could try to enter by taking the doors entirely off the hinge. To prevent this, some people install security pins into the door hinge, such as these:
Are French Doors Always Double?
The term French door immediately brings to mind, for most people, an image of a double door. But while French doors are, most often, a set of doors, they don't have to be. French doors are available as single, double, sliding, and even bi-fold doors.
By definition, French doors are doors that are made almost entirely from glass. The design allows a lot of natural light to pass through them. This combined idea of a door that also functions as a window originated in the French Renaissance and is the draw of this style of door to this day.
What Is The Best Material For French Doors?
Several material options are available for French doors. Each has advantages and disadvantages to them. Though individual tastes do vary some, fiberglass is low maintenance, weather-resistant, and typically, the best option.
Vinyl is the most affordable material. It is also durable and can come in a variety of styles. The biggest drawback to vinyl doors is that it can crack in extreme temperature changes.
Aluminum doors are a step up from vinyl as far as durability. They also tolerate weather better than wood doors. However, they require pretty consistent maintenance. If not cleaned regularly, the material can pit and stain.
Hardy and durable, fiberglass is a bit more expensive than vinyl. It can, however, take a lot of abuse from the elements with little additional maintenance. If you have the extra money to spend on a door, most professionals agree you won't regret a high-quality fiberglass door.
Steel is relatively affordable but can perform poorly as an exterior French door. Though it stands up to weather well, it doesn't offer much insulation. Steel can rust if damaged. Steel doors also have limited options for color and style - they tend to look like, well, a steel door, and they can't be painted over.
While vinyl and fiberglass are available in style options that look like wood, some people prefer the look of an actual wood door. This is really more of an aesthetic choice than one with much practical benefit. Clad wood doors are made of wood facing inside. The exterior door is still covered by vinyl or fiberglass, to create a door that can stand up to the weather outside. These can also be the most expensive.
French doors are typically about 80 inches high (and correspond with standard door heights) and are five to eight feet wide. Smaller and wider options are available for those who require something else for their home design. Fiberglass is a reliable and low maintenance choice for an exterior French door.
Interior door options are also available. French doors have an appealing look with their mostly-glass design. They function well in spaces where high visibility or lots of light is desired, whether inside or outside.
For more reading, check out these other articles: