UPVC Sliding French Doors – exterior
French doors have often been used as an elegant space saver for people who are looking to open up their houses to welcome more light into their homes. Sliding French doors can do more than that, they can help homeowners save energy whilst they make your home more fashionable and inviting.
In order to understand what external sliding French doors are and what they can do, we need to break down exactly what they are. Let’s start with the French door aspect of it.
French doors like French windows are light installations, mainly constructed using small mullioned glass panes mounted in a frame. There are basically two categories of French doors: indoor and external doors.
The difference between regular French doors and sliding French doors is in the opening and closing mechanisms. A standard set will have a swing action to open like a regular door and, the sliding version are fixed within tracks.
Sliding French doors are primarily used to connect the interior of your home to the exterior. The opening could either lead to a patio or a conservatory, maybe even used for the main door of the conservatory itself.
Design features to look out for when choosing external uPVC sliding French doors
Sliding French Doors come in all sizes, the basic design calls for four panels. The centre panels should be able to slide easily to the sides to create an opening big enough for you to comfortably walk through. All the panels should ideally be the same width, or the outer panels wider than the centre panels, so that they can leave a decent entry way.
Basically you would need a four door configuration measuring at least 3.0 metres in width, giving around 750 mm for each individual door or side panel.
The moving sections are usually fitted to run on the inner track.
French sliding doors are commonly available with an aluminium, wood or uPVC framework. Of these three materials Aluminium is structurally stronger and does not need reinforcing like Upvc frames might.
Because of its structural integrity, aluminium frames are thinner and visually appealing. Bear in mind that Aluminium is a good thermal conductor which means, in order to prevent heat and cold transfer, the frames have to be designed to include a thermal barrier or “thermal break”. Consequently, this makes the frames more complex to make and can translate into a higher purchase price.
The obvious advantages of aluminium are low maintenance, but another advantage is that the doors can be made with thinner frames giving a better, less obstructed external view.
Wooden frameworks for sliding doors can either be made from solid hardwood or softwood cores with hardwood surfaces (veneers). Wood is an insulator and does not need the large thermal breaks that a material like aluminium needs. This allows for thinner slimline designs provided that the wood is strong enough. Wooden frames can be painted or stained to fit your needs.
However, as an organic material, it can degrade much faster than vinyl (UPVC) and so to keep the doors in the optimum condition, you will have to regularly maintain and service the timber.
uPVC, like wood, is a good insulating material. It is commonly used for all types of exterior front & back doors. Unlike the first two materials uPVC sliding doors will typically be reinforced with galvanised steel profiles to provide increased rigidity and strength within the framework.
uPVC sliding French door frames come in a variety of colours and surface finishes that do not fade of peel off. Price wise uPVC is less expensive than aluminium and wood.
Available colours for UPVC Sliding French Doors:
In terms of colours, there are a few options to look at, with the primary options being smooth or textured surfaces. Smooth finishes are as you would expect and textured surfaces recreate the look and grain of timber. The textured finishes are all foil laminates which are permanent, non-peeling or fading.
Some options are:
- Black / Brown
- Anthracite Grey / Pearl grey
- Dark Blue / Steel Blue / Duck Egg Blue
- Green / Chartwell Green / Racing Green
- White / Cream / Vanilla
- Darkwood / Light Oak / Irish Oak / Golden Oak
- Walnut / Mahogany / Rosewood
Having discussed frame options, we should now look at the glass itself. Having a glass door or having any large expanse of glass means a potential loss of heat. Glazing serves two purposes, it improves energy efficiency and adds a bit of strength to the glass.
Exterior sliding doors should at least have double glazing which is at least 24 mm thick. It should either be toughened or laminated for safety purposes. Toughened glass is a type of glass that has been heat treated so that it shatters into small pieces instead of breaking. Most of the time the shattered glass will stay in position like the windscreen of a car making it less dangerous.
Laminated glass is essentially glass sandwiched between a plastic film that holds the individual pieces of glass in place in case the glass breaks. Glazing does more than toughen the glass, double glazing also actually increases the glass’ sound proofing qualities.
Advantages and disadvantages of uPVC Sliding French doors
Most people choose Double-glazed uPVC French doors because they are more cost effective and cheaper to buy than their aluminium or wood counterparts. There are other advantages to choosing uPVC French doors over other types:
- They are great insulators which means that they can be used to keep heat inside the house in winter or heat coming in during the summer. This could translate into energy savings.
- uPVC requires little maintenance and has a very long life span. uPVC has close to 57% salt content which means it can withstand coastal area conditions.
- You also have a very big supply chain which translates into being able to find a good manufacturer, supplier and installation team without much trouble.
How much do UPVC Sliding French Doors Cost?
External sliding French doors come in all sizes and materials. The cost also varies from one manufacturer to the next however a basic 4 panel uPVC double glazed French sliding door can cost between £1,000 and £2,000.
This is just what it would cost to buy the materials, finding someone to install the door can come up to £150 to £250 per day in labour costs. A simple job can be done in a day, but more complex installations could take 2 or 3 days.
|Door Size in MM||Frame Material||Supply only Price|
|3000 x 2100 4 panel||uPVC white||Around £1,100|
|3300 x 2400 4 panel||uPVC white||Around £1,200|
|3000 x 2200 4 panel||uPVC Rosewood||Around £2,000|
|3000 x 2200 4 panel||uPVC Grey||Around £1,850|
Please bear in mind, the figures given above are for convenience only, are not an offer to buy or sell and do not fully reflect the cost of installing or replacing windows for your home.
Always get written quotes from a certified installer