External French doors are a popular choice for back doors, large porch entryways, and for patios and conservatories. They allow plenty of natural light to flow into your home, making it feel lighter, brighter and more inviting. They also provide a bigger entryway than standard single doors, allowing you to open your home out into the garden during the summer.
One thing that a lot of people don’t realise is that modern French doors are strong, secure, and thanks to advances in glazing technology, incredibly efficient. So, if it’s been a while since you updated your home then upgrading to exterior French doors could make your home more energy efficient! Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few improvements you could make if you’re a DIY enthusiast yourself.
How to Repair External French Doors
Modern external French doors are incredibly strong and durable, and quite low maintenance, too. With that said, the UK climate can be quite harsh, and if you want to make sure that you’re getting the best out of your doors then you will need to weatherproof them and keep them in a good state of repair.
One of the main points of failure on any kind of external door is the damp proofing. Many doors have a rubber seal running around them which is designed to keep water out and act as a seal against draughts. The glazing and the wood itself could last for decades, but that strip will eventually start to break down. The good news is that insulating strips are easy to replace – they usually either nail into the wall with tacks or are as simple to replace as popping out the old one and sliding a new one into place.
If you don’t have such a seal around your door, but feel that the doors are draughty, then you may want to consider getting one fitted.
How to Draught-Proof External French Doors
To move freely, a door needs to be very slightly smaller than the opening that it is in – the difference is a matter of millimetres – but it does make a difference! Air, of course, can flow through the smallest of gaps, and this means that your external doors are a common source of heat loss, especially in the winter when it’s windy and the external air temperature differs greatly from the internal temperature.
To stop draughts from flowing, you will need to fit a weather seal. The kind of seal that was discussed above is the most common choice, but there are others available for the bottom of a door that will pop up when the door is opened, and then spring down to form a solid barrier against water and wind when the door is closed. To fit these, you will need to cut a recess into the under-side of the door, into which the spring-loaded mechanism will sit. Combine this with a soft seal around the outer edges of the door, and you should have something wind-proof.
If that proves to be insufficient, then another option is to have a wind break fitted behind the door. Internal screen doors can be a good choice if you have a property that frequently faces strong winds. In the event that the winds get bad enough to batter the doors, then the screen will act as a buffer to stop the wind from getting through.
Don’t forget that the threshold of the door serves a purpose too. If the bricks or stone of the threshold have started to slip then you will find that your door will feel draughty. Replacing the threshold and re-caulking around the frame will help to stop some leaks.
For those who are less worried about extreme weather, but just want to keep the property cosy, another option is to hang thick curtains behind the doors. You can keep the curtains closed on colder, duller days, and tie them back when the weather is warmer.
If you are buying glazed doors, make sure that they feature double glazing at a minimum (triple glazing is often an option), and look for doors with Argon or another modern inert gas filling. UV coatings are also beneficial – they will help regulate the temperature of the room in the summer so you don’t end up turning your porch or patio into a greenhouse!
Protecting Your Doors from the Elements
External French doors are generally made from wood or UPVC. Wooden French doors are longer-lasting if they are cared for properly, because they can be re-painted and stained to keep them looking in perfect condition, and they can be treated to weatherproof them. UPVC doors are more likely to discolour over time, and it’s harder to give them a fresh lease of life when that happens.
You should inspect your doors every summer to make sure the paintwork is intact, and repaint them if they are looking tired or the paint has started to peel or crack. Exposed wood is more likely to swell or rot, which will cause French door problems in the long term and shorten the lifespan of the door.
To keep the door operating smoothly, it’s important to lubricate it regularly. Oil the locking and latching mechanisms at least twice a year, with a little extra attention if they start to seem stiff or sticky. It takes just a few seconds to do this, and it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. You can use WD-40 or a similar kind of oil to do this. Simply spray a small amount and then move the mechanism back and forth to work the oil in.
French doors are a great option for modern homes, but as with any other external fixture, they will need some care and maintenance. Spending a few minutes to maintain your doors will help them last for many years, and keep them looking beautiful throughout their lifespan.