Want easy access to your outdoor spaces and steams of natural light flooding into your home? Find the right patio doors and you’ll be able to get both! Whether you’re replacing your existing external doors or looking for brand new ones for your new home, there are three primary styles to choose from. You can get uPVC French doors, folding doors or sliding doors. The question is, what’s the difference between these, and which one is the right choice for you?

Luckily, we’ve got years of experience as a door manufacturer designing and installing all three! Read on to find out more about each type, with all the pros and cons to work out which one is best for your home:

What’s the difference between these three types of external doors?

The decision between French doors, sliding doors and bifold patio doors is one that many homeowners face. A good place to start is to delve deeper into the main attributes of each and learn more about what they actually are. We’ll then go into a little more detail on the benefits of each.

French doors:

  • Sometimes also known as hinged patio doors, uPVC French doors open from their hinges in the centre.
  • The style of French doors is usually seen as more traditional rather than modern, so it may be a better fit for a home that’s got more of a ‘classic’ interior design and architecture.
  • With French doors, you can decide whether you want to open just one door or both.
  • French doors (when both are open) offer enough space to move any large items that may not fit through your front door.
  • Usually, uPVC French doors tend to have thicker frames than sliding doors.
  • They also tend to bring in less light than sliding doors, as their dimensions are smaller.

Folding doors:

  • Bifold patio doors are made of multiple panels and can be opened by folding them back in. They’re often called ‘concertina’ doors as they were inspired by the musical instrument.
  • Often chosen due to their space-saving functionality, folding doors are fitted to runners. When you open them, they’ll slide and fold at the same time with ease. This does offer more space than French doors which swing out.
  • Many folding doors may have a conventional door within which works on a hinge. This means you can have easy access through the door without needing to fold up every single panel in the bifold. It’s a good choice for busier entryways.

Sliding doors:

  • Sliding patio doors are made of larger glass panels than French doors.
  • As the name suggests, you can slide them open and closed. Slide one panel over the other or slide from the centre, depending on the design you choose.
  • Sliding doors look neat and more space-efficient as the two panels slide into each other rather than swinging outwards.
  • These external doors are easy to operate as they smoothly slide in and out. This makes them a better option for those homes with elderly or disabled inhabitants. It’s also a safe choice for homes with little ones as there’s no need to worry about your child’s fingers getting caught in hinges.
  • You can design sliding doors with a screen, which means fresh air can make its way into your home without leaving the doors fully open.
  • If you love lots of glass and want to enjoy unobstructed views, sliding patio doors are also a better choice than French doors which tend to have thicker frames.
  • Maximise the amount of natural light streaming in with sliding doors with large glass panels and narrow frames.
  • Sliding doors are also more modern in style, so may not be the best fit for homes with a more traditional design.


The aesthetic that you like will probably be the deciding factor. French doors usually have chunkier door frames. While they are more elegant in their look, you’ll also get less natural light. French door design may be a better fit for older homes or for those homeowners that like a ‘classic’ and traditional style.

Sliding doors and bifold patio doors come with narrower frames. They tend to look more functional but are also sleeker than French doors. Sliding doors, in particular, offer a neat and compact look with the panels tucking into each other. If you’re looking for space-efficient design, these doors are probably the best option.

Energy Efficiency

Getting energy-efficient external doors and windows should be a priority for all homeowners to keep energy bills down and maintain a comfortable temperature. Out of these three types of doors, French doors used to be the best for heat retention. This is because glass isn’t the best for insulation and sliding and bifold patio doors tend to have larger glass panels. However, sliding and bifold doors also offer a tighter seal.

You can now get high-quality double glazing for great insulation on any glass door. At Lifestyle Designs, we use hard-coated Pilkington G glass to manufacture our door panels. This offers great thermal properties and minimises heat transfer between rooms.


The security levels of patio doors have greatly advanced with technology and the use of more robust materials by door manufacturers. You can now feel safe and secure in your home with any of these three types of external doors. There are also other measures you can take for extra security, such as electronic locks and alarm systems.


When deciding which patio door to get, the cost is certainly a huge consideration. You can now get patio doors at reasonable prices starting from £1500 in the UK, including installation and design. Although you could attempt to install the doors yourself, we’d recommend hiring a professional to avoid any issues in the future.

One of the best things about bifold patio doors is that you get a wide variety of leaf (or panel) sizes. This makes it possible to create a completely bespoke installation depending on your needs. Traditionally, bifold patio doors have been more costly than sliding doors and French doors as they require more configuration. However, the final price depends on the specific design you choose as well as any extra insulation or security measures.


If you’re looking for the best possible view of your outdoor spaces, sliding doors and bifold doors are the better option. Their wide glass panels offer more expansive views. As uPVC French doors don’t open as wide, they offer a slightly restricted view.

Which type of patio door is the best choice

Ultimately, it depends on your design preferences and what you’re looking for! All have their pros and cons, for instance, sliding doors are more space-efficient, but French doors offer a more elegant design. Hopefully, the above has helped you learn more about all the options so you can work out which one is a good fit for you.


Considering new window or door installations?

At Lifestyle Designs, we can help make your home more comfortable and secure with our professional window and door installation services. Our uPVC windows and doors are renowned for their durability. You can visit our showroom in Stoke-on-Trent to find out more about products and services.

Get in touch using our online form or just give us a call on 01782 761221. Whatever your needs, we’d be happy to provide bespoke door and window solutions just for you!

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