When it comes to finding a patio door for your new construction, replacement, or remodelling project, you want something that is impressively functional and fabulously stylish. But no single door is right for every project.
Every homeowner wants a well-designed patio door that easily blends into the existing structure and makes a strong visual statement without compromising on strength and energy efficiency. You need the largest window in your home to do what it does best, which is to bring the outside in and make the room feel instantly brighter and uplifting. Besides improving your home’s beauty and increasing your comfort, choosing the right patio door can also help to eliminate drafts and cut energy costs.
Fortunately, you can always find the perfect fit for your home when you know what to look for, namely:
- The patio door style – hinged, sliding, etc.
- The door material – fibreglass, vinyl, wood clad, etc.
- The glass – low-E insulating glass
- Features and details – grilles and other hardware
- A professional and certified installer – if not DIY
Step 1: Pick a patio door style
There are different styles to choose from so you can find one that complements your home. Options include:
- Sliding/gliding doors
This is considered the most ubiquitous patio door, especially for contemporary styling. It comprises two framed glass panels that glide past each other, allowing for an extremely wide opening of up to 10 feet or even more if multiple slide panels are used. Variations of sliding doors include:
- French slider – A four-panel door with the two outer panels fixed while the two inner ones operate. They allow for wide openings of up to 16 feet, allowing for plenty of natural light and ventilation. You should consider the track system on the floor before purchase.
- Telescoping patio door – This door comprises three or more panels that slide past each other to create a very large opening that essentially eliminates the barrier between inside and outside.
- French – swinging door
French doors offer a stylish way to bring the outside in. They are hinged to swing either in or out.
In-swing doors take up a bit of floor space, which affects your room functions and furniture placement. These doors also tend to have limited width of no more than six feet to avoid using overly large hardware (hinges) or straining smaller hardware.
Out-swing french doors don’t affect furniture placement. But their design means that the screening would have to be placed inside. As such, they’re better suited for areas that don’t require screening, or where there is a screened porch. Additionally, these doors should use hardware that keeps them from slamming during strong wind gusts.
Another consideration for french doors is the threshold, which is the weather-tight seal (along the floor) that forms part of the doorframe. It can project up about one inch above the floor, limiting smooth transition from inside to outside. Fortunately, you can work with your architect to remove it.
Step 2: Choose your patio door material
There are three popular materials for constructing patio doors offering different advantages:
- Wood clad
Key characteristics include:
- Timeless beauty and wide range of choices for any project or budget
- Greater comfort due to better insulation from heat and cold compared to metal door panels
- Greater design flexibility since they can be stained or painted
- Superior durability with proper wood protection to guard against termite damage, moisture and decay, and stains from mould and mildew
It is not only virtually resistant to all weather conditions, but also:
- Exceptionally durable
- Resistant to extreme weather conditions – subzero conditions or high heat
- Low maintenance due to the powder-coat finish
- Complements any home
In addition to its affordability, vinyl offers:
- Superior performance with reduced heat loss and sound transmission
- Exceptional durability attributed to its weather resistance and structural integrity
- Low maintenance as it does not require additional staining, painting, or refinishing
- Looks great for a long time as minor scratches and dings are virtually unnoticeable
Step 3: Select the glass material
There is a wide range of innovative and energy-saving glass choices that increase your comfort and help reduce your cooling and heating costs. So, whatever your climate, you can find the glass that is just right for you.
Most options offer two or more panes of glass with single or multiple layers of low-E thermal protection and argon between the panes. You may also need to consider other factors such as:
- Impact resistance – Impact-resistant glass offers security and safety from flying debris while promoting UV protection, noise control, and energy efficiency
- Cold weather insulation – Glass with low-E protection and argon allows solar heat to flow in while insulating from the cold
- Privacy – Obscure insulating glass can be used for intimate spaces. The textured surface lets in sunshine while obscuring the view
- Safety – Tempered glass has four times the strength of regular glass, and even when it fractures, it breaks into tiny particles as opposed to sharp pieces.
Step 4: Personalise your patio door
There are many features and details you can use to personalise your patio door so it reflects your personal taste and home style. Items to consider include:
- Door handles, hinges, and other hardware that match other decorative metals in your home
- Grille style and pattern that reflect your home’s architectural style
- Between-the-glass shades and blinds that are protected from damage, dust, and little hands
It takes a bit of time to find the right door for your patio. And when you’re done, it is best to get a certified professional to handle the installation.