Sliding doors have come a long way since the balky, unattractive doors of yesterday. Today's sliding doors provide style and beauty as well as safety, durability, and when used outdoors, energy efficiency.
Benefits of Sliding Doors
The concept of sliding doors has been around for centuries and their many advantages over swinging doors continue to make them an attractive alternative. Just some of the reasons people like sliding doors include the following:
- Sliding doors need a lot less space than swinging doors (a swinging door needs almost 10 times the space of a sliding door), so "waste" space in a house can be minimized, and closets don't need to have a furniture free "halo" around them just so you can open the door.
- A sliding door opening out onto a small landing or a stairway is much safer than a swinging door in the same situation since a person doesn't need to step back and possibly fall.
- Sliding doors won't slam in the wind, and they don't open by themselves.
- Finally, a handicapped person may well find a sliding door easier to use than a swinging door. Plus, you can get sliders that are much wider than swinging doors, which allows for easy passage of a wheel chair for example.
Frame Construction of Sliding Doors
From a builder's perspective, there's an added bonus in that even with the wider door, you don't need to worry about the effect of the increased weight on the door hinges. Older outdoor sliding doors were primarily made from thin aluminum that would often bend in the cold and let air in around the edges. Today, outdoor sliding doors are made from a wide range of materials, including wood, vinyl-clad wood, and fiberglass. The fiberglass frames can be manufactured to have the appearance of wood, but won't warp or crack, as wood sometimes will. By injecting insulating foam into the doorframes, the insulating value (and consequently the door's ability to keep the warm in and the cold out) can be increased many times over that of plain wood.
Panel Construction of Sliding Doors
While attractive energy efficient frames are great to have, outdoor sliding doors have large glass surfaces that used to be very inefficient. Here too, improvements have been made through the use of modern energy efficient glazing. Dual glazed or dual paned windows combined with low e coatings and filled with gas, means that sliding doors are not only attractive, but energy- and cost-effective as well.
Modern Sliding Doors
Even with all the improvements, sliding door technology continues to evolve. Some manufacturers can actually provide sliding doors that will bend around a 90degree angle. Others have developed "lift and slide "technology so a door will ride easily on its rollers but then drop down into a track, creating both an air and watertight seal. Improved energy efficiency advanced technology combined with the inherent benefits of the design no doubt means we are going to be seeing sliding used in new and creative applications in the future.