While sliding patio doors are certainly the most common form of entrance to an outdoor living space, many more distinctive options exist. New trends in recent years create very wide, majestic openings and broad, uninterrupted panes of glass. Some of the new trends in patio doors, like sliding or lift doors, are part of a movement toward “melding the inside and outside living spaces … like opening up an entire wall of your house,” says John Kirchner of Marvin Windows. Read on for ideas to create a grand entrance to your outdoor living space.

Sliding glass doors are the most highly-used patio door, providing a more streamlined, contemporary look. They can be wider than a traditional door—from 5 feet to 10 feet, and they are cheaper than French doors. One thing to keep in mind is that frame size can vary greatly depending on the framing material. Aluminum frames will likely be much narrower than vinyl.

French doors are a classic favorite. These hinged, swinging doors do take up floor space, so they will affect the layout of your room. They also have more limited width than other options, typically no wider than six feet—so depending on your style and needs, you might want to consider some of the newer, wider options. “Outswing” French doors will have the same width issues, but they eliminate floor space issues on the inside of your home. They do require screens to be inside the glass doors, which may be a drawback. In addition, protecting the doors from wind gusts can be an issue, so special hardware is recommended to prevent slamming.

The French slider is a nice hybrid option—it looks more classic than a regular sliding glass door but can be wider than a traditional French door (10-16 feet). French sliders have four panels, two of which remain stationary. When the two sliding panels close, they look like adjacent, hinged French doors. With any sliding door, something to consider is the kind of track mechanism you use. Width of sliding mechanisms can vary considerably, with widths everywhere from one to six inches.

A number of new options in patio doors create even wider openings, allowing for broad walls of glass and a sense of a seamless indoor-outdoor space.

Lift or slide doors provide a very large, uninterrupted wall of glass—as much as 16 feet tall, like this one from Weiland—via a door that slides or raises up to completely disappear into a track in a neighboring wall. The frame could be aluminum or wood. These will be a more costly option than a more typical patio door, but their effect can be worth the extra cost. View more lift and slide doors here.

Folding glass doors, like the one pictured above, are another way to create a big opening. These don’t require space for pockets in an adjacent wall. You can also make one panel a hinged door so you wouldn’t always have to fold the whole door open to go in or out.

Pivot doors swing in or out like a hinged door, but the weight of the door rests closer to its center, on the pivot from which it swings. It is another way to provide a very wide opening and a more distinctive entrance to your outdoor living space. This type of door doesn’t accommodate a screen, so is recommended for locations where you don’t need one.

Telescoping Patio Door—with its clean lines, this is also a more contemporary style, and it allows for a very wide opening, providing a striking, seamless connection between indoors and outdoors. Telescoping doors provide a large, uninterrupted sections of glass, but they do require space for their wide, staggered track.

Another element to consider is the type of glass you use for your patio door. “Low-E glass” helps keep UV light out, tempered glass offers a decorative element and additional privacy, and internal blinds and grills can be another way to handle a window covering.

If you’re ready to discuss ideas for your patio project, we’d love to speak with you. Contact us today.

Sources and further reading

Dietrich, Bud, Houzz, “Find the Right Glass Door for Your Patio.”
Maynard, Nigel F. Builder Online, “Lift and Slide Doors are the Hot Trend in Patio Doors.”
The House Designers, “Five Tips for Choosing Patio Doors.”

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