Martin Katz found a beautiful late 1960s contemporary home near downtown Scottsdale, but it needed to be "spruced up," as he put it. "This house had great bones, but it really needed to be updated," he said. "So I replaced all the Arcadia doors with French doors."
But wait — don’t the terms "contemporary" and "French doors" seem like an oxymoron?
Not anymore. Katz has French doors leading to both of his patios and an upstairs balcony, but all have solid panes of glass with no grid system.
"What people don’t realize is that French doors, you can either get the classic criss-cross panes," he said, "or you can get solid panes like I have."
Katz hired interior designer Marcia Graber of Graber Designs Ltd. in Scottsdale, who worked closely with Republic Westwindow and door company. They changed out the Arcadia doors and also replaced all the windows in the house.
"The main thing I wanted to do was to not have any limits visually between the inside and the outside," he said. "What I wanted to do is to bring the outside in. So by putting in the French doors, what’s wonderful is that the patios are extensions — they’re like another room of the house." Graber said that while Arcadia doors let in a lot of light, with French doors, "you don’t see the metal frame you do with a sliding door. You see the exposed track and the metal around it. For the most part in residential design, you don’t want to see that." Also, she said, those metal tracks attract dirt and are difficult to clean.
French doors look better on both the interior and exterior because they can be painted to match the inside and outside of the home. This makes the view from the inside to the outside — or vice versa — look like a framed picture, she said.
Not to mention, French doors are more welcoming.
"There’s nothing warm and inviting about a sliding door," Graber said.
New French doors also have dual-pane glass and can be ordered in energy-efficient Low-E glass. As for shading, there are several options.
Graber suggests creating a slim wooden box to mount on the wall over the top of the doors that will house a pulldown shade. Or, she said, use soft Roman shades that are only as wide as the door, that you can pull up and out of the way. There are also many trendy roll-down shades in materials such as bamboo that can be mounted above the doors.
Also, you can buy French doors with Venetian blinds pre-mounted inside of the dual-paned glass with louvers attached to the outside. Or, if the French doors swing to the outside rather than into the house, they won’t interfere with drapes. Graber added that doors that open out won’t use up floor space.
Remember, too, that you can get French doors with one that opens and one fixed, and you can also get doors with sidelights to fill in extra-large spaces.
Before hiring companies for home improvement projects, contact the Arizona Registrar of Contractors to check on a company’s license and get information about complaints and bonding. Visit www.rc.state.az.us or call the automated line 24 hours a day at (602) 542-1525. You will need the contractor’s business name, license number or the name of company principals.
Faux French Doors
Pella’s Architect Series with Rolscreen, a self-storing retractable screen, offers the look of French doors in a sliding patio door. Choose from several "divided-light" grid patterns or clear pane, all of which are insulated for energy efficiency. This a good option for homeowners with limited space, because it requires considerably less floor space than the typical French hinged door.
And, the Rolscreen is self-storing and designed to automatically retract into an wood housing that blends into the interior look of the door and can be painted or stained to match your home’s interior. It comes with a 10-year warranty. These doors can be special-ordered through home warehouse stores or local Pella stores in Mesa and Scottsdale. Learn more at www.pella.com.
Door Number 1, 2 or 3?
There are multiple choices in materials and styles for French doors. Jim Weisman, president of Republic West window and door company in Scottsdale, said fiberglass is the most popular type of door with his clients, accounting for 90 percent of sales. He also sells wood and steel. Lowe’s stocks steel and vinyl, but can order wood and fiberglass, said Steve Ward of the Chandler store. Lowe’s offers installation by licensed and bonded contractors starting at $349 for basic installation. Here’s a breakdown of the materials and what to consider:
Steel: The least expensive option. At Lowe’s, prices start at $298 for the double doors in a surrounding jamb with dual-pane glass, and the warranty is 10 years or more, depending on the manufacturer. Steel doors come treated with a primer and must be painted. The downside? They can dent.
Vinyl: Prices start at $597 at Lowe’s, with a limited lifetime warranty. They’re more energy-efficient than steel and require zero maintenance. They can’t be painted or stained, and they only come in three colors — white, tan or dark bronze.
Fiberglass: Prices start at about $800 at Lowe’s; there’s normally a lifetime warranty. To replace a standard-size sliding-glass door with a set of two French doors installed by Republic West costs an average of $1,500 to $2,000, depending on options. Fiberglass is durable — it won’t warp, split or dent — and can come in a wood-grain look that can be painted or stained.
Wood: Wood, the most traditional look, requires regular painting or staining and can deteriorate in the Arizona heat. Republic West offers a limited one-year warranty. Lowe’s can order a set of doors by Pella that are wood on the interior and aluminum on the exterior, giving the natural wood beauty while protecting the outside. The set starts at $930, but add-ons bring the average price to about $1,250. The glass comes with a 10-year limited warranty, 20 years on other components.
Glass options: French doors don’t have to have the criss-cross grid, called muntins (vertical) and mullions (horizontal), with smaller panes in between. They can be made with a full pane of glass, and can be clear, tinted, frosted, etched, beveled. If you want the grid system, some doors come with a snap-on system to make cleaning easier, or some manufacturers place the grid inside the dual panes of glass. At Lowe’s, doors have either dual-pane or Low-E glass, which are more energy-efficient than single pane. Low-E glass costs an extra $80 on steel and $150 on fiberglass doors. Republic West offers dual-pane, Low-E 2 (the new generation of Low-E glass) and heat mirror, the most heat-resistant glass made. Low-E 2 glass adds about $130 to the price of a set of doors, and heat mirror adds about $475.
Screens: Lowe’s sells two kinds of screens for French doors. One is similar to a sliding screen on an Arcadia door, but manufacturers patent their own, so they fit only their doors. It adds $89 to the cost on a Reliabilt; other manufacturers might run more. The other, called a Phantom, is a retractable screen that hides in a thin box that mounts vertically next to the doors. It is $257 and will work on all models. Republic West sells sliding and retractable screens; they run about $400 to $500 installed.