Want to bring the outside in? Installing large glazed doors into your garden is an easy and unsurprisingly popular way of making the most of your garden all year round. We’ve all seen those homes on design programmes with a seemingly seamless integration between the garden and the living area – often with the same flooring used throughout for real wow factor. The right doors between your home and garden can make all the difference and transform the way you use both spaces, no matter what the British weather throws at us. But where once your options for doors to the garden were limited, now there are all manner of enticing choices to pick from – and sometimes this can be confusing. In this buyer’s guide, we list the pros and cons of the main options, to help you decide on the right doors for you.
French doors, also known as French windows, comprise two glazed doors on hinges, which meet in the middle to lock. They’re the classic choice for period properties and have been around since the Renaissance period. There are three standard sizes in the UK: 1.2m, 1.5m and 1.8m.
French doors are classic, timeless and usually the most affordable option, being relatively easy to install. They can be opened fully to allow the maximum amount of light and air into the room. There are lots of design options available, and you can choose whether to have wooden, aluminium or PVCu frames, and if you choose timber frames, they can be painted to match the rest of your interiors to create a smart and cohesive finish.
French doors are at risk of slamming shut in a breeze, so need to be secured with hooks when open. When they’re closed, the frames are thicker than with other options, making them less attractive from the inside and somewhat disturbing your view of the garden.
Sliding doors are made up of glazed panels that slide sideways along a track, and stack behind each other at one end.
Sliding doors are great for larger spaces, where French doors would not be feasible. When closed, they offer a near-perfect uninterrupted view of the outdoors with their slim frames. They’re great space-savers too, as they don’t open out or in – this means you can cover your patio outside with potted plants and they won’t hit them when open! They’re also handleless, making them a great choice for contemporary homes.
The biggest drawback with a sliding door is that they cannot be opened fully as one panel of glass must always stack behind another. In some homes, you can slide the glass back into an adjoining wall to allow you to truly open up the entire space, but this is an expensive and more complicated choice. Sliding doors must be installed by a professional – if there are any mistakes made during installation then they won’t close properly. Design wise, the choices are more limited than with French doors.
Bi-fold doors consist of a minimum of three glazed panels, which fold and slide along a track. They are growing in popularity, and with good reason. They can open up much larger widths than the other two options and truly make your garden an extension of the living area.
Bi-fold doors open up to 90% of the space they sit in, beating all other types of doors for sheer size. When folded back, the effect of merging indoors and out is seamless. They can also open inwards or outwards, depending on what suits your space best.
Once opened, bifold doors need to have somewhere to sit – which means you need a clear area either in or outside for them. When the doors are closed, the frames (although slimline) around each pane will obstruct the view. You also need to make sure you keep the track under the doors clear of any debris from the garden, as this can prevent them from opening smoothly. They are also often the most expensive option.