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The Basics (and Growing Trends) of Sliding Glass Door Hardware

By Nick St. Denis


There are many considerations to take into account when selecting the right sliding glass door for your home, whether it is the color and style of the door, or the type of glass used. One important factor that shouldn’t be overlooked is the type of hardware—specifically the handle system—used with the door.

Here is a basic overview of the types of sliding door hardware on the market, as well as a breakdown of some of the hottest trends that are driving product development and allowing homeowners to find just the right system for their home.

Common Types

The most common sliding door handle type, often referred to as a “standard” handle, is the simple U-shaped design in which the top and bottom of the handle are both attached to the door.

Other common types include the lever handle, which typically is turned up or down to release and slide the door open, and the indent handle, which is a handle that is indented into the door. Other types include the pull handle and flush handle.

Countless variations of these handle types exist in many shapes and sizes. This hardware can be found in several finishes and colors, including black, white, silver, brass and chrome.

Additionally, there are numerous options for the type of lock within the handle. The mortise lock, for example, is a lock that is installed in a pocket inside the door. The hook lock type, on the other hand, has a hook built into the handle.

Growing Trends

There are many trends in windows and doors, and home design in general, that drive makers of sliding door hardware to develop the right products to meet demand.

Size Considerations

Like most products in the window and door market, sliding glass doors are being designed and manufactured taller, wider and heavier. As a result, the hardware for these doors must keep pace with growing sizes. This means hardware must be developed to handle heavier loads while still maintaining the functionality—particularly the ease of operation for the end user—as well as the desired aesthetics.

Contemporary Design

Contemporary design in the window and door realm is often defined as straight, symmetrical and narrow sightlines, and can also include dark colors. Hardware manufacturers have had to answer demand for contemporary aesthetics by designing products that blend with this door style.

Preserving the View

The use of larger glass sizes and narrower door profiles has been the result of consumers and homeowners seeking maximum views and light. This too has prompted changes in door hardware design.

The end user often is looking for a handle set that stays within the width of the door profile so that the handle doesn’t stick out in front of the glazing area. Manufacturers have also responded to a demand for more right angles in hardware as opposed the traditional “scalloped” or looped design.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a major concern for today’s homeowners, and modern sliding patio doors address this. In addition to low-emissivity, multi-pane glass, there is a demand for strong gasketing and sealing in the hardware system to minimize the transfer of heat or cold from outside to inside.

The development of multi-point hardware, which locks the door shut in multiple places, has also helped with this. While multi-point hardware provides stronger security, it also promotes a stronger seal.

ADA Compliance

As America’s baby boomers move into their retirement years, they’ll be spending more money to remodel their homes so they can stay in them as they age.

For hardware makers, that means a growing emphasis on products that meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While ADA compliance is based on the total door system and not the individual components such as hardware, it does affect product design.

For example, larger handle sets are more conducive to ADA. In addition to lower thresholds to prevent trips and falls, ADA also requires that sliding doors have an operating force of no more than five pounds. That makes well-designed rollers more important than ever before.

Technological Advances

Unlike other parts of the window and door industry, automation doesn’t seem to have caught on with sliding patio doors – yet.

But some companies are starting to supply these products. For example, GU Ferco offers a battery-powered closing system for lift-and-slide doors that works with the touch of a button. This system can open, close and lock itself.

Look out for more of these kinds of developments in sliding doors as automation becomes more popular.

Glass.com’s network of window and door dealers can help you find exactly the right hardware and handle style for the sliding glass door of your dream. And to learn more about windows and doors, visit our Info Center for more articles like this one.

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