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How to Choose the Best Patio Door

By Ellen Rogers


From sliding doors to French doors, there are hundreds of options when it comes to selecting a new patio door. Fortunately, having so many choices means you have the ability to find just the right door to match not only your home’s unique aesthetic, but also your budget. First, however, you have to determine which one is right for you and your home. Here’s a look at some considerations to keep in mind when making your selection.

Know Your Budget

Before you start picking out your favorite doors, you first need to determine your budget. The cost of patio doors can vary depending on details such as size, quality and features. Patio door replacements, including installation, can cost on average about $1,200 on the low end to upwards of $5,000. Lower price point options typically include vinyl or aluminum sliding glass doors. On the higher end, sliding doors are also available that offer improved insulation, aesthetics and smooth operation.

Hinged or French patio doors typically are a little more expensive than the sliding option. On the low end, these start around $1,500 to $2,000 at a big-box store. On the higher end, quality French doors cost around $4,500 to $6,500, and are available from high-end manufacturers. These are the doors homeowners often choose when they are looking for something to enjoy for many years.

A Closer Look:

Sliding Doors

Sliding glass doors can help create a feeling of bringing the outdoors in, as they provide an easy transition from inside the house to the outside deck or patio. These doors slide open and closed horizontally so are an ideal choice in tight locations since they don’t take up space within the room the way a hinged door does when open. And, thanks to the glass panels, sliding doors can provide ample views to the outdoors and plenty of natural light. Energy-efficient glass can also be installed in the door. This will not only provide increased occupant comfort, but can also help reduce energy bills.

Sliding doors can also be easier to adjust compared to French doors and have a contemporary look that works well with a modern-themed home. Multi-point locking hardware is also an option for increased security.

Remember, you will want to select a door that complements the overall look and style of your home. Sliding glass doors may not fit the aesthetics, for example, of an older home or one that has a more traditional design.

Hinged Doors

Swinging or hinged doors are also known as French doors, and can open outward or inward. They are typically seen in homes that have a more traditional rather than contemporary architecture. One panel is usually operable and the other is locked in place. Remember, since these are swinging doors, you will want to make sure you have the necessary space for the doors to open.

French doors offer a classic look and aesthetic and also can come with multipoint locking hardware for added security. This door option also is easily customizable to match the unique look of your home.

Material Selection

Just as with front entry doors,  there are several different material options available for patio doors. According to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s (AAMA) AAMA 2015/2016 Study of the U.S. Market For Windows, Doors and Skylights, the four most popular materials used in patio doors for remodeling and replacement projects are:

  • Vinyl;
  • Wood;
  • Steel; and
  • Fiberglass

Vinyl

Vinyl patio doors are the most common material option in new construction, as well as remodeling and replacement. These doors come generally at a cost-effective price point, are energy efficient and low maintenance. On the downside, vinyl can be susceptible to possible cracking due to extreme temperature shifts.

Wood

Wood provides a beautiful, traditional style, and can be customized to any paint or stain color. However, it comes at a premium in terms of price, and is high-maintenance so will require consistent upkeep. Moisture can cause it to warp and it can fade due to sunlight.

Steel

Steel patio doors are a durable, sturdy option that can handle a variety of weather conditions without bowing or warping. These doors are also more cost effective than wood and require less maintenance. They are energy efficient. Steel doors, however, can rust or dent and can get very hot or cold depending on the weather.

Fiberglass and Aluminum

Other material options include fiberglass and aluminum, though the latter is much more common in new construction compared to remodeling and replacement. Fiberglass doors can provide the looks and aesthetics of wood, but without the same levels of maintenance. They are also energy efficient and do not warp or rot. Aluminum doors are sturdy and low maintenance. They are also cost effective and can be energy efficient. This material, however, also comes with some of the same challenges as steel; aluminum is a lightweight material and can be dented or scratched easily. It also has a high heat conductivity, so is vulnerable to heat.

Other Options

As you start to narrow your search, keep in mind you have lots of other added details and benefits to think about. A variety of glass choices are available, grid styles, colors, as well as an option for blinds between the glass. If you’re in a hurricane-prone area, you’ll also want to explore impact-resistant glass as an option. This type of glazing is constructed as a glass, usually called laminated glass, “sandwich” that includes an ultra strong plastic interlayer between the two pieces of glass. This type of glass is designed to shatter if severely impacted by flying debris, for example, but does not break out of the frame.

Start Your Search

Once you’ve established your budget and decided on the style and look that’s right for your home, be sure and check out Glass.com to start your search for dealers and distributors near you.

One response to “How to Choose the Best Patio Door”

  1. It’s nice to know I have a lot of choices when it comes to materials with patio doors such as vinyl, wood, steel, and fiberglass. I’m looking into adding one soon, I’ll try looking into which would look best in our home. Thanks for the great read!

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