Patio doors open up a home to the outside and create ease of access to yards and activity areas. They are often conveniently located near the kitchen and patio or incorporated in an entertainment space or bedroom. Most are energy efficient and styled to meet an array of decorative themes. Sliding glass models are the least efficient while hinged doors offer the best overall insulation properties. Swing-style doors are usually set on a smaller frame, which may prolong the life of the unit. Benefits of installing a patio door include not only an expanded view to the outside but additional light source for the indoors. It is the perfect transition from living area to outdoor space.
Types of Patio Doors
There are two basic types of patio doors: hinged and sliding. Hinged models, which include most French doors, swing either inward or out. These are manufactured as single doors or as double panels that meet and lock in the middle of one large frame.
Glass Patio Doors
Glass doors can filter UV light while offering thermal protection as well. Energy efficient glass is rated for different regions. Patio doors are typically double-paned and some feature triple panes. The glass may be reflective or filtered, and thermal conductivity is rated by Low E. and U-factors. The type and amount of weatherstripping will vary among manufacturers and this is one of the more critical points to consider when deciding on a patio door.
Patio Door Locks
Safety locks are another critical selling point; look for multi-lock functions that secure the door at three, four, or five points. If interior space is at issue, consider the increasingly popular outswinging doors. These are now being manufactured to withstand the elements and create "bonus" space inside while providing the ultimate viewing area.
Materials Used for Patio Doors
Regardless of style, patio doors are available in several types of materials: vinyl, steel or aluminum, fiberglass, wood, and cladding (one type veneered over another). All of these materials, with the exception of wood, are resistant to moisture swell and rot. Wood doors remain the most expensive while aluminum is the most economical in price and less durable. There are many standard models to choose from, but some homes require custom sizing, which may require the assistance of a contractor.