Published: Feb. 6, 2022
Yes, you absolutely can replace double doors with a single door that has sidelights! Before you start collecting pictures on Pinterest or scheduling estimates, though, let’s run through some pros and cons.
5 Pros of Switching from a Double Door to a Single Door with Sidelights
Changing the style and size of a home’s front entry doors can drastically improve the look of a home. Here are five reasons changing might be a smart move.
Boost Curb Appeal. From wrought iron or stained glass inlays to modern metal designs with vibrant colors, switching from double doors to a single door with sidelights could have dreamy results for your front entryway. With so much customization available, you can really boost the “wow” factor of your home’s entryway and increase its curb appeal. That’s great for resale value, too!
Brighten Up Your Space. Let’s face it–this is a big perk of sidelights. More natural light brightens up a home and can really change how someone feels walking into your home. Maximizing natural light is incredibly attractive to future buyers, too.
Improved Visibility. Need a quick peek to see who’s at the door? Sidelights provide a clear, panoramic view, without the limitations of a peephole. Plus, if you’re coming in from outside, you’ll know if the dog or kids are lurking, ready to welcome you home.
Extra Airflow. Did you know some door manufacturers produce sidelights that can be unlatched and opened to allow extra airflow into the house? Options include active sidelights that fully open like double doors to create a wider breezeway, or venting sidelights with screens to safely keep dogs and children inside the home. Both are a practical blend of curb appeal and functionality, and far more attractive than an screened security door.
More Natural Light = Boost in Your Health. That extra light flooding in could give you an unexpected health-boost. Studies show exposure to natural light can lead to increased serotonin, ward off seasonal depression, improve your sleep and even elevate immune-boosting Vitamin D levels in your body. It creates a healthier you, naturally!
5 Cons of Switching from a Double Door to a Single Door with Sidelights
Double doors come with an impressive range of options, and changing width of the door isn’t the only way to pursue some of the benefits we mention above. For most, it simply comes down to style; which look do you prefer? But no matter which direction you go, considering both sides of the equation can help you decide.
Here are a few cons worth considering.
More Expensive. Believe it or not, it’s actually more expensive to move to a single door with two sidelights, rather than sticking with a straightforward swap from one set of double-doors to another.
“People often think they have a six-foot opening so they can put a six-foot door in it,” explains Sal Sucato, owner of DunRite Windows & Doors, and a seasoned window and door replacement professional. “But it doesn’t work out that way; you also have framing and other construction factors to consider. It isn’t a clear-cut answer and not something most DIY homeowners should tackle themselves. You should consult a professional window and door company for help.”
If changing to a single door with sidelights isn’t in the budget, double doors with glass inlays can be significantly less expensive. You also might consider a single door with one sidelight, instead of two, or using decorative glass around a single door instead of sidelights. A single pivoting door to fill the entire opening can also be a lovely modern look.
Lost Space. When you move from double doors to a single, moving furniture and large appliances in and out of your home can be challenging.
And, in some cases, you may even lose height on your door—especially if you choose a home improvement store option, which tend to be a few inches shorter. This can create a more closed in, cramped entryway once installation is done.
Unexpected Costs. Even though your current double doors likely measure around 6 feet for the opening, there’s more to fitting a single door with sidelights into a double-door space than simply matching the size of an opening, and popping it in place. From the door’s height and width to depth of the frame and sill, it’s important to compare all measurements for compatibility.
And if you have to expand the opening or fill gaps, you could incur additional construction costs like moving electrical or security wiring, adding a support header, patching drywall and stucco around the frame, and painting.
Less Energy Efficient. You’d think changing from double-doors to a single door would help with energy efficiency, but that’s not always the case. The typical glass used for prefabricated swing doors and sidelights is actually less energy efficient than a window.
“Door glass has a double coating of low-e glass, instead of the triple coating that today’s replacement windows have,” says Sucato. They also have a higher U-factor, which allows UV rays and heat into the home, along with the sunlight. This can lead to higher energy bills.
Energy efficiency of a door is about more than just the glass, though. It depends on the non-glass components, too. “I prefer fiberglass doors overall,” adds Sucato. “It’s the most energy efficient door option that meets my criteria for quality and longevity. Plus, they have an attractive solid sound when someone knocks that’s reminiscent of wood. Steel, on the other hand, can sound tinny and flimsy.”
Custom Coverings. Maybe you love the look of sidelights, but want more privacy. If you find yourself adding custom blinds, shutters or privacy glass upgrades, this adds another expense.
Either way, there are a number of pros and cons to consider before making a decision. As with any home improvement project, we recommend obtaining quotes from several professionals before making a decision. It can help you make an educated decision that ensures you’ll love the change for years to come, and get the most bang for your budget.