About Patio Doors
What to Consider When Buying Patio Doors
Patio doors are one of the most popular features of any home. They provide convenient access while creating unimpeded views that flood interior spaces with natural light. While old-style patio doors were notorious for heat loss, leakage and poor security, modern doors offer significant improvements. Frames and glass are more energy efficient, many products incorporate multi-point locking mechanisms for better security and sophisticated flashing packages prevent leakage. As with any window or door today, there are many choices when it comes to choosing a patio door. With this guide, we hope to help you make the right ones.
Choosing a patio door style often comes down to a matter of aesthetics and functionality. Below are three of the basic patio door styles and a brief description of each.
- Sliding Patio Doors – sometimes called gliding doors or bypass doors – are extremely popular. They let in a lot of natural light and are easy to maintain. Sliding doors consist of two or more individual panels, at least one of which slides back and forth on hidden rollers. The sliding panels can be combined with fixed panels to create dramatically broad expanses of glass. Panels slide parallel to the wall so they don’t interfere with furniture placement or walking areas.
- Swinging Patio Doors – sometimes called hinged patio doors, operate in much the same fashion as standard exterior doors. They are full view glass panels and often hang in pairs. The doors are center hung, hinged on either side of a central mullion and open much as butterfly wings. A second type of hinged patio door is the French door. French doors are hinged at the side jambs so that the door panels meet when closed. The latching mechanism is contained in an astragal mounted to one of the doors. When French doors open, the entire area between the hinges is clear.
- Folding Patio Doors – a folding patio door system can open a wide area to the great outdoors. The system operates accordion-style, which means each section slides on an overhead track and neatly folds away for full access. They are available in several configurations, ranging from two to eight leaves.
While design options can seem almost endless, for construction it comes down to fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum, steel, wood and clad-wood offerings. Your choice depends on what factors are most important to you.
- Fiberglass – This material features both the feel and look of genuine wood, right down to the knots and cracks, with less upkeep. In fact, these doors are built to consistently withstand the rigors of any climate - hot or cold, wet or dry.
- Aluminum – A lightweight and strong material that is a cost effective alternative to wood. This material is corrosion-resistant and performs well in most climates.
- Steel – An economical option, steel offers strength and durability and is a good choice for most climates. These doors are also treated to deliver superior rust-resistance. They will require only minimal maintenance (in especially moist areas, they may require minor upkeep).
- Vinyl – A strong plastic material that is used for its durability, energy efficiency and ability to stand up to the elements. This material will never fade in color, flake, peel or rot.
- Wood – Wood comes from trees that grow in a variety of species, such as fir, pine, mahogany or alder. Each species has a range of characteristics, like grain, color and sap content, which contributes to its unique appearance.
- Clad-Wood - Like a coat of armor, cladding is a strong layer of metal on wood, providing extra protection and low maintenance benefits with no exterior painting required.
When you’re choosing your new patio doors, it’s a good idea to make energy efficiency a priority. Depending on your climate, the right patio doors could actually pay for themselves in reduced energy costs. Some factors to consider are R-value, U-factor, Low-E glass, UV coatings and other glass options.
We hope this guide has been helpful. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be happy to answer any patio door questions you may have.