Our design and construction of these French doors illustrate the answers to a question we often hear from architects about French doors, generally. “How narrow can you make the stiles?”
These particular doors are 1 3/4″ thick, with 3″ stiles and insulated glass. Architects’ goal with these and other multi-pane French doors is always the same—less wood and more glass for a lighter, more elegant look. However, there are several parameters to consider. First, is size of the doors: their height and width as well as their weight. The taller the doors the more likely they are to warp; the wider and heavier they are, the more likely they are to sag.
We have built French doors as tall as eight feet with stiles as narrow as three inches. In order to accomplish this, we make the doors thicker, usually 1 3/4″ thick for interior doors or single-glazed doors, and 2 1/4″ thick for exterior doors, glazed with insulated glass. Mahogany is our first choice of wood due to its stability, strength and rot resistance. Proper finishing of the doors is also critical in order to control the amount and rate of moisture exchange in the wood.
Another consideration is the type of hardware to be used. Narrow stiles limit the number of options for conventional locksets. We recommend multi-point locks with narrow backsets to operate and lock the doors. Multi-point locks secure the doors at the latch, head and sill, preventing warping and sagging as well as increasing the level of security. Surface-mounted cremone bolts also can be used.
With narrow stiles and narrow muntins, we can build true divided-light French doors and French casement windows with insulated glass, and achieve both energy efficiency and the delicate elegance desired by so many clients.