We’ve explained in previous articles how to secure french doors and how to secure sliding doors. But if you’re choosing between the two to install on your patio for example, which one is safer? Here are the main security differences to consider:
1. The way they open and close
French doors open inwardly or outwardly. Sliding doors open to the side. This is the main difference, functionally and security wise.
The problem with inwardly opening doors is that they can get smashed in pretty easily. Especially if they’re constructed from relatively thin wood and glass panels.
Outwardly opening doors can’t get smashed in, at least not as easily. But often the hinges are accessible from the outside. If a burglar has access to the hinges on your french doors, he could remove the pin and then possibly remove the entire door from the frame.
This is true not only for outward opening french doors but outward opening doors in general. Which is why I dedicated an entire article to the topic of securing outward opening doors properly. I highly suggest you check it out if you have them already!
As far as sliding doors are concerned, the situation is much better. Sliding doors can’t be kicked in. The only result of kicking a sliding door would be a lot of broken glass. But such a forced entry would also cause a lot of noise and the glass shards could possibly injure the intruder. If you install glass security film across the glass panel it would make the intruder’s job a lot harder as well, since the glass shards would stay in place and require a lot of effort to remove.
Since sliding doors don’t open inwardly, kicking them in is not a great option for the intruder. The only option he has is to manipulate the locking mechanism and slide the door open.
If you use an extra lock like a sliding door security bar (link to Amazon), that is virtually impossible. A security bar locks the sliding panel of the door in place from the inside. Unless the intruder gets access to your home (by jumping inside through the window for example) there’s no way he’ll break inside through the sliding door.
2. Strength and size of glass panels
Both french doors and especially sliding doors are often just large glass panels. While french doors sometimes contain a larger portion of the supplementary materials such as wood, plastic or metal, sliding doors are really often dominated by a large see-through glass surface. As you well know, glass easily breaks, which leaves your home fairly exposed to the bad guys.
The problem with glass surfaces also has to do with privacy. You don’t want potential intruders having the ability to take a peak into your home any time they like. Having said that, it’s very easy to increase privacy by covering the glass with privacy film and with curtains.
Regardless of the type of door you decide to go with, make sure that the glass portion is extra thick, or install glass security film across the glass panels. This will make the door much stronger against forced break ins and other dangerous events such as hurricanes, earthquakes and explosions. I suggest doing the same for other glass surfaces that separate your home from the external environment, mainly the windows.
Keep in mind that plastic, wood and metals all provide more security than glass. Regardless of the door type you choose to go with, if you can incorporate more of these materials into your doors setup, it will be safer, although perhaps not as aesthetically pleasing.
3. Lock strength and vulnerability
French doors are harder to secure because they usually involve two door panels and have a traditional deadlock or similar lock that can be broken from the outside.
In other words, there’s a handle, a key lock or a similar mechanism accessible from the inside and the outside of the house. There’s also the potential security weakness of hinges that are accessible from the outside in case of outward opening french doors.
Sliding doors are way easier to secure with a standard lock because you only have to worry about securing the sliding panel. And that’s really easy to do. Many sliding doors don’t have any security weakness that can be exposed from the outside because the handle and the locking mechanism is only available from the inside.
If you close and lock a sliding door from the inside, there’s nothing there for the burglar to work with. The only option he’s left with is to break the glass.
It’s true though that a professional burglar could have a small power drill at hand to gain access to the locking mechanism inside the door. This is why many people use a security bar for that extra security. One lock is always a liability. Two locks? That’s a check mate, mate.
Final Word: French Doors vs Sliding Doors Security
We can conclude that sliding doors are generally safer than french doors. There are less potential security weaknesses. The major weakness of a sliding door is a large glass panel.
In comparison, french doors can also have vulnerable hinges in case they open outwardly. Or they could be simply kicked in by a strong burglar.
In both cases, using an extra locking device and improving the thickness of the glass panels will improve the overall security of your door. I wrote guides for securing both types of doors, and you’ll be good with either type if you implement some of the tips from these articles. So check them out to learn more: