French Doors with Built In Blinds

By Todd Fratzel on Doors

French Doors – Built In Blinds

French Door Blinds Between Glass1 300x225 French Doors with Built In BlindsFrench Doors with built in blinds between the glass panels are great. Typically French Doors don’t provide much privacy because of all the glass. If you wanted privacy with a French Door in the past you would have to install some type of blind or a curtain attached to the door. You no longer have to settle for that option because you can now buy most all French Doors with the blinds built in.

When I designed our new home my wife was concerned about having French Doors in our breakfast nook. She was worried about privacy and shading from the afternoon sun. She has never been a huge fan of mini-blinds because she hates cleaning them. When I told her I could order the French Doors with the mini-blind built into the insulated glass she was very interested in trying the product.

I’m happy to say we’ve been very pleased with this feature. The blinds have two controls on the door, one to raise and lower the blinds and another to control the tilt of the blind blades. The great benefit of these blinds is they never need to be cleaned because they are contained within the sealed void between the pains of glass. The cost was similar to buying a set of mini-blinds so in my opinion you’d be crazy not to order a door with this feature. If you want full light from the window just open up the blinds all the way and you don’t even know they are there.

How Mini Blinds Between Glass Work

Pella Blinds Between Glass 300x300 French Doors with Built In BlindsBuilt-in mini blinds between the glass on windows and doors is pretty easy to manufacturer when you see a typical section. The photo to the right is a section through a Pella window that offers the blinds between the glass. As you can see in the photo, the window has a traditional insulated double pane on the exterior of the window followed by a larger space for the built-in blinds. Lastly there is another piece of glass the encloses the blind system. Fixing those blinds if they malfunction really depends on the system the window or door manufacturer uses and whether it’s a sealed unit or not.

Common Problems with Built In Blinds

Built in blinds are far less susceptible to damage compared to the old fashion standard window blinds. However, when they do break it can be really hard to fix them. There are a couple common problems with built in blinds including:

  • Control Handle Disconnects – On many of the new models now available the control handles on the outside of the glass are connected to the internal controls with powerful magnets. This allows the controls to be used without compromising the energy efficiency of the glass. What typically happens is if you try to move the blinds up and down inside the glass while the blinds are in the “closed” position there is too much tension on the system and the magnet lets go. The control handle will likely slide down to the bottom. This can be fixed by moving the handle up to the position when it let go. Next be sure to “open” the blinds before moving them up or down.
  • Control Cable Breaks – In some situations the internal cables can break. If that happens you’ll have to get a new glass insert. Most all of these built in blinds are sold in sealed glass panels that cannot be repaired. Contact your vendor and see what options are available. The good news is replacing the glass panel is typically quite easy after removing a few screws and trim pieces.

Blinds Between Glass Manufactures

I know several door manufacturers now offering blinds between the glass on French Doors. Check out the following manufacturers (we have Therma Tru doors in our new home).

I highly recommend this type of product if you’re planning on buying a new French Door.

If you’re looking for information on how to repair doors with built in blinds then please read:

Can Blinds Between Glass Be Repaired?

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61 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree – but I need a french door for an interior room with the BBG. Know where I can get them? my search has found that can only get this feature in a exterior door -which would look funny in a space that separates 2 interior rooms.

  2. Todd says:

    The reason you only find them on exterior doors if they work on dual pane glass. You won’t find an interior door with dual pane glass. The glass is far too heavy for a regular interior door and frame.

  3. Anonymous says:

    thx for answer -tho not what I wanted to hear :-). Yep, knew about the dbl-pane glass thing. I have a source that is saying they can put a ‘exterior slab w/BBG” into a “interior frame”, so get the best of both worlds? or amI asking for trouble? didnt’ know about the additional weight thing -would that be a problem? Even tho my source says they CAN do it -SHOULT I do it? thanks!

  4. Todd says:

    I think you can do it so long as they put it in a solid door slab and you use regular jambs, not split jambs. Make sure you shim and nail the jambs really well.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We have these doors and the blinds have gotten tangled before they were installed. How can they be fixed?? Please help!!!
    Buck

  6. Todd says:

    I think you’ll need a glass company to take apart the door. The blinds are located between two pieces of insulated glass. I have a feeling that there is a gasket between the two pieces of glass that will need to be replaced once the glass is separated in order to un-tangle the blinds.

  7. Anonymous says:

    love the blinds between the glass, but can they be replaced with a different shade of blind? The other blinds in my family room are natural wood blinds. I would like to have natural wood mini blinds in my french doors. Can and how do I replace the mini blinds in between the glass in my french doors?

  8. Todd says:

    Currently this particular manufacturer only offers white blinds. I’m not sure about the others. The only way you could do this to an existing door is by replacing the glass all together. And that might not be possible depending on the size of your unit and whether the manufacturer even offers this product.

  9. silverlovinglady says:

    I have had these doors for about 5 years; never a problem; absolutely love them. I live in Texas and when Hurrican Ike came to visit us in September the outside glass on one of the doors got broken. The doors do have tempered glass so it didn’t just fly all the place. Does anyone know how I can have the glass and blinds replaced? I think there is some type of gas between the doors and the blinds have been exposed to the elements, so I think they may rust eventually. HELP!!!

  10. Todd says:

    Do you know what brand you have? Most door supply places can order replacement glass. They are fairly easy to swap out as the glass is a sealed unit with the blinds in it.

  11. silverlovinglady says:

    Yes, my doors are Reliabilt. I bought them at Lowes.

  12. Todd says:

    @ silverlovinglady – I think you should be able to buy the glass “unit” and then replace the broken one. Typically the glass is a pre-assembled unit that is sealed with the blinds already in them. I would think Lowes could at least order the glass for you and possibly offer service to replace it. Honestly replacing the glass isn’t all that hard. You remove the frame screws, remove the old glass assembly, install the new one and put the screws back.

  13. silverlovinglady says:

    I have been in touch with Lowes so that I can order the piece that you are speaking of. Lowes can’t find the information to contact ReliaBilt or Jeldwen. I am at my wits end now. Don’t know what to do.

  14. Todd says:

    Apparently ReliaBilt is the name that Lowe’s uses for items built exclusively for them. It appears to me that ReliaBilt was probably manufactured by Jeldwen.

    I have a feeling that you’re going to have a very hard time getting a replacement for this door. If I were you I’d take the glass measurements to a local door/window shop that deals with Jelwen and see if they can get you a replacement.

    I hate to say it but this is why I tell folks to buy from local hardware stores. I have some serious issues with some Big Box store products, doors, windows, lawn mowers, etc.

  15. silverlovinglady says:

    Last night when I got home Lowes called and somehow found a number to contact ReliaBilt. They have the piece on order for me now. I sincerely hope that it doesn’t get broken again. Too much trouble to get replacement. Thank you so much.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I would love to know the source from anonymous on 9/11/08 for the blinds inside interior french doors. That is exactly what we are looking for. We want the double pane, in addition to the enclosing the blinds, for sound mitigation. Any help would be much appreciated.

  17. Lori-Ann says:

    We purchased these french doors with the blinds between the glass and we love them. The only drawback is that the lever that slides the blinds up and down occasionally doesn’t work and it leaves the blinds up. It appears stuck and we don’t want to force it. If anyone knows how to remedy this, I’d love to hear it.

    • Todd says:

      As far as I know the only way to fix this is to replace the entire glass unit. The double pained glass has the blinds built into them.

  18. gloria says:

    I bought the french doors with built-in mini blinds. The lever for the blinds to move up/down broke. How do I fix it?

  19. Carol says:

    I am also looking for a 32 inch interior french door with the blinds in between. Please let me know if you have any sources I could contact.

    • Todd says:

      @ Carol – I think it’s unlikely that you’ll find an interior door like this. You’d probably have to use an exterior one and mount it on interior jambs.

  20. Austin says:

    Gloria

    The lever sometimes does come detached from the blides. The instructions tell how to fix it (it is not really broken). I believe the fix was to slide the lever entirely all the way to the top and then it catches onto the blinds again.

    • Alice-Ann Darrow says:

      Wow! Thanks so much. Fixed mine like a charm! Thanks again!

      • Ceci says:

        hi

        we purchased beautifl french doors off the floor of Champion Windows, basically as is. $4400 doors for $1900. our up/down latch detached on the blinds, and I was soo mad at my husband and his BIG hands. i thought we were going to have to replace the whole window. I did some research and found Austin’s response above, and it worked!!! Austin, my husband asked me to thank you…..he was in BIG trouble =0) and I thank you too!! i really thot we were going to have to replace everything…….

  21. Chaly says:

    Simply unsrew the panel from the door. If you look closely, you will see screws holding the entire inset of double pane glass, then looking from the side you can see the screws holding the blind panel to the door glass panes. They are two separate parts, and removing the blind section will not in any way open the panes or remove them. Anyone can buy these enclosed blinds to fit various door sizes, but opening up double panes would be very problematic.

    Do whatever you wish to the inside. My blind is broken, and I am just trying to find the replacement blind (I believe I have – ODL Entry Point is company name.)

  22. Tony says:

    Hi
    I have two 36″ interior doors already. Do you know where I can get the blind encasement to attach to this door. I would appreciate hearing from you. Thanks

    • Todd says:

      Tony – As far as I know these are only installed on exterior doors. Most likely due to the weight of the assembly. You might be able to order a replacement piece and try to retrofit an interior door. I’d recommend installing some heavy duty hinges though.

  23. Gerald Lewis says:

    I have a 9 foot door with glass insert (24 x 82″ with 1.5″ frame). I want to replace the insert with a custom insert which includes mini-blinds. Who can build this for me? Most sites I have visited do not make the inserts 82 inches tall.

    • Todd says:

      Gerald – You should speak with a window department at a reputable lumber yard. Don’t go to the Box Stores, go to a real lumber yard. They can probably custom order that for you.

  24. Annette says:

    Hi. I love these doors too! However, the tab that keeps the blinds running up and down only lifts the blinds a certain way. Then it seems to lose “suction” and drops the blinds. The tab is all the way up and when I am bring it down to raise the blinds it “pops” and the blinds drop. I tried bringing the tab all the way down then up again, but that doesn’t seem to work. Any suggestions on how to fix this?

    • Todd says:

      Annette – Do you know which brand you have? Do you know that the blinds need to be “open” for most brands before closing or opening the blinds up and down?

      • Barb says:

        Todd, I too am having the same issue as Annette. I moved the tab all the way up and it went back into place, however when I try to raise the blinds, the tab “pops” back out about halfway and the blinds drop down. I have a Jeld Wen vinyl sliding patio door that is only two years old. Please help…Thank you!

        • Todd says:

          Are you trying to do it while the blinds are “closed”? Most all of these the blinds must be “open” before you try to move them up or down.

          • Barb says:

            I have the blinds/slats in the open/horizontal position.

          • Todd says:

            Sounds like something is tangled inside. Where did you buy the door? I’d ask them for suggestions. Typically the only problem I’ve seen is when trying to raise or lower them when they are closed.

    • Barb says:

      Do you still need help to fix this problem? I figured out how…can you slide the tab up and when you do does it “pop” back into place?

  25. Barb says:

    That’s what I was afraid of…thanks!

  26. Dan says:

    I have a Jeld Wen sliding door with blinds inside, the blinds on the fixed side don’t open or close all the way. Is there an adjustment that can be made to the top magnet that controls the opening and closing of the blinds?

  27. Janet says:

    I have a Jeld Wen exterior door with inside blinds. Today I started having issues with the blinds, they are crooked in the frame, as the right side seems to have lost tension, and I can’t control whether they are ‘open’ or ‘closed’, also the controller tab seems to be skipping as I slide it up and down. I’ve tried returning the tab to the up-most position to realign the magnets but that doesn’t seem to be helping. The door is about a month old – any advice would be welcome!

    • Todd says:

      The only thing I’d suggest is try lowering (fully extended to the bottom) blinds all the way, then try opening and closing them. Then try the same at the top. If you’re convinced the magnets are lined up you may need a service call.

      • Lisa says:

        What about the top slider, the one that makes them tilt? One of my French door sliders came loose and doesn’t do anything anymore. Is that a magnet thing too? The papers with it only showed how to fix the side slider.

        • Todd says:

          I haven’t heard that the top slider is magnetic. The best thing to do is find out the manufacturer, then call their customer service line.

  28. Genine says:

    Hi,

    I was wondering if there was any way to fix a crooked blind in between glass. I have tried moving the blind up and down with the magnet but the blind still remains crooked. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Todd says:

      That’s a new one on me! I guess as a last resort I might take the door off the hinges and try moving the blinds while the door is laying down or other angles..see if “gravity” helps.

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  30. Andrew says:

    I just purchased and installed one of these doors from Lowes with the microblind insert. When I raise the blinds, I hear a high pitch squeal. It sounds like something is rubbing on the glass. When I lower the blinds I don’t hear the squeal. Is this squeal normal? Should I replace the insert?

    • Todd says:

      Andrew – I’m not familiar with the brand that Lowe’s sells. I typically use ThermaTru or Jeldwen and never have that issue. Sounds like the weight of the blinds is causing something to rub as it goes up. I’d speak with a customer service rep and see what they say.

      Good luck.

  31. Jean says:

    Does anyone use Pella or Andersen blinds? Sounds like they are all thermaTru or Jeldwen

  32. Jean Theron says:

    Hi, I have two 9 foot French doors with glass insert (24 x 82″). I want to add the mini-blind insert. There must be someone who has them. All the sites I have visited do not make the inserts 82 inches tall. I gave up on the box stores but the local lumberyards were no help either… Any info that you can give will be greatly appreciated .

  33. Deb V. says:

    We had patio doors with the mini blinds between the glass installed just a few months ago. I noticed one of the blinds seemed a little crooked when it was put up part way. I thought I’d give it some time to see if the problem would correct itself – instead the problem got worse. Now the blind in the other door is also crooked. I called the business that made the doors & installed them. They have a lifetime warranty on their product & installation so they were very good about it. They sent over a service man who tried putting the blinds up & down several times & checked the doors for being level. Finally he took several pictures & said he thought they would probably have to order us 2 brand new panels. Since then, the blind that was the worst seems to have improved & the other blind has become more crooked. So, obviously something is shifting when they are being put up & down. I am just wondering is this a common problem with these blinds because what is the point of ordering us 2 brand new panels if they also will go crooked with use.

    • Todd says:

      Deb – Not sure on all manufacturers but I have some from Therma Tru that are now 7 years old and still work like new. While many people have documented problems even more love the product. I think it’s just so frustrating when you can’t fix them that it gets quite a bit of attention from upset owners. I myself would buy a door like this again in a heart beat.

  34. Fran Morgan says:

    I have wood french doors and I would like to know if I can purchase just the windows with the blinds and install them in my doors? If so, where can I purchase them?
    Thank you
    Fran

  35. Errol says:

    Hi I purchased a Designer,Sliding French Door made by Pella with the build in blinds and on Father’s day when I woke up found the interior glass panel completely shaterred and all over my kitchen floor the door is only 4 years old I never seen anything like this before I contacted Pella and they are going to let me know if it’s still under the warranty can’t believe how it happened.

  36. Sharee says:

    raise/lower tilt slide Parts – I don’t know the brand of these doors but the slides over the magnets have become brittle and broken. Can these parts be replaced?

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