The History of French Doors

French fries. French horns. French braids. French manicures. French bulldogs. French doors. On the surface, all of these things appear to have at least one thing in common: French roots.

Dig deeper, however, and the truth isn’t as straightforward.

In fact, French horns are actually German in origin, while French manicures were invented in America. And as for French fries, the debate rages on.

Which begs the question: Are any of these “French” things actually French? The answer is “yes” for at least one: French doors.

Not only were French doors invented in France during the French Renaissance, but our continued insistence on calling them “French doors” is an homage to France’s contribution.

Here’s a closer look at the fascinating history of this popular type of patio door, including why they were invented, how they’ve evolved over the years, and what to look for when selecting French doors for your home.

The Origins of French Doors

The French Renaissance was a time of tremendous cultural and artistic growth in France. Beginning at the end of the 15th century and continuing through the beginning of the 17th century, it was marked by flourishment in painting, printing, sculpture, music, literature, the sciences, and architecture.

French doors are a prime example of the architectural advancements that happened during this remarkable period in European history. Born out of the desire for open space, abundant natural light in the absence of electricity, and symmetry (which explains why they’re often—albeit not always—paired), they emerged as an alternative to the traditional wooden doors found between rooms in many homes.

However, this interior design element was also an indicator of homeowner wealth due to the high price of glass at the time.

The Increasing Popularity of French Doors

The influences of the French Renaissance spread far and wide, and French doors soon became popular in the United Kingdom and the United States. They continued to evolve along the way.

For example, embellished stained glass was incorporated into upper-class homes in New York. People also started using French doors in exterior spaces and as entryways to small “Juliette” balconies.

Through the changes, their value remained the same: allowing natural light to circulate in homes.

One note? While neighboring countries originally called these types of doors “French doors” in homage to their heritage, they’re often referred to simply as “patio doors” in other parts of the world. According to architect Elizabeth Maltez, Americans continue to use the name because of the prestige it implies. And, certainly, it holds up: French doors are uniquely chic and elegant—like many French things.

French Doors Today

With the passing of time, French doors have continued to improve. Modern manufacturing techniques have facilitated the production of French doors featuring larger panes of glass, better hardware, impact glass, and more.

Furthermore, while French door frames were once composed of wood, they’re now available in several other materials, including practical and enduring aluminum and vinyl.

If you’re looking to improve the look and feel of your home through new impact windows or doors, French doors may be at the top of the list.

In addition to their original purpose of welcoming more light into spaces while also creating a more open feel, modern French doors now offer even more allures, including their adaptable (and customizable) appearance, energy efficiency, improved access, noise reduction, and security.

And then there’s the fact that today’s French doors can even add value to your home. Popular with homebuyers, they can offer a significant return on your investment if/when you decide to sell.

Choosing French Doors for Your Home

One final note on French doors? They’re not all created equal. While budget models may be tempting because they appear to offer the benefits you’re looking for, they’re likely to fall short in other areas, such as air loss prevention, security, and durability. Additionally, shoddy installation processes can further impede the performance of your French doors.

This is why it’s so important to partner with a trusted industry leader like CGI when upgrading to impact doors. Not only do you gain access to custom-impact French doors and other high-performance impact-resistant products, but you also get an above-and-beyond commitment to quality, service, and customer satisfaction.

If you’ve already decided to improve your home with new French doors, congratulations! A time-honored architectural feature, they promise to enhance the look, feel, and functionality of your home in many ways.

Still not convinced? We sell exclusively through a partner network of dealers who can help you determine whether French doors, sliding doors, or an alternate solution are best for your wants, needs, and goals as a homeowner.

To find an authorized CGI dealer near you, go here.

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