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I am having a home built and am considering French doors for the patio. This is a slab foundation home on pretty flat land, but like all slabs, I expect some movement over time, but not so much that it should affect any regular door re: tightness and being weather-worthy.

I like the look and entry/exit width French doors provide, but am not sure as to how well they truly seal and protect the interior from the weather/pests/etc. over time. My internet research has yielded a spectrum of responses, but I am still having issues weighing the information.

Location is North Texas, known for its expansive soil. Soil test was undertaken and engineering report ordered. The site was well excavated and engineered, including soil packing and a fully engineered post-tensioned slab. Of course, all of this is "I was told that..." :--)

Does it come down to manufacturer or other choices I might make? Are French doors known to pose problems in the long term? Are there any "cautions" worth noting?

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  • Location might help. Have read on here some flat land causes problems with building on it. Expected types of weather is also a consideration.
    – crip659
    Sep 22, 2022 at 18:57

2 Answers 2

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French doors (here defined as double swinging doors without a fixed center mullion) are a bit more finicky. Without that center post they need to be well-tuned to seal well, as they seal to an astragal attached to one of the door panels. You can also imagine that the threshold seal where multiple moving parts come together might be fussy.

That said, good ones come with three-axis hinge adjustment that makes tuning and sealing fairly easy, assuming good installation technique. Square, plumb, and on plane are critical. As with any exterior door, periodic maintenance and seal replacement should be undertaken.

Gaze away.

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  • You seem to know a lot about doors! Upon searching there was not a whole lot on 3-axis hinged doors...I probably need to contact the manufactiurers to see what is used when they are assembled.
    – AA040371
    Sep 22, 2022 at 23:30
  • I'd hope you're looking at actual products in a showroom. The sales staff should be able to help you see that.
    – isherwood
    Sep 23, 2022 at 12:48
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I have some 1994 big box quality French doors for my entry. One has a cane lock that goes into the threshold and header jamb. The other door latches to the door with the cane locks. If the cane locks aren't engaged you can push hard and the doors will spread open. Seals are pretty crap but then again so are the door panels with some shaker style panels that are 1/4" thick. A quick scan with a FLIR camera shows these as one would expect as high heat loss areas.

You can get high quality European style doors with multi point locking systems engaged via the handle that automatically pull against the header and threshold pins. The better the quality the higher the price though.

Be interested to see what you select.

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  • i changed the terms up a bit. I think the "European style" is the correct term for the tilt and slide / multipoint locking systems as those items are most prevalent / standard in Europe. I think builder quality is generally synonymous with spec/track homes as oposed to custom homes - is that not the case? Sep 23, 2022 at 18:44
  • Well, "big box quality" is just as nebulous. I've been both a builder and a big box sales associate. They each sell what people demand, not vice versa.
    – isherwood
    Sep 23, 2022 at 19:43

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