How to Choose the Best Patio Door


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.

Types of Patio Doors:

Sliding Doors

The best 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.

Best Patio Door Material 

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.

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Glass.com attempts to provide accurate information but cannot be held liable for any information provided or omitted.  You should always work with a licensed, insured and reputable glass shop that can assess your specific needs and local building codes and offer professional services. Never attempt to cut, install, or otherwise work with glass yourself. All content is provided on an informational basis only.


Ellen Rogers

By Ellen Rogers

Ellen Rogers has been involved with the glass industry for nearly 20 years and is the editor of USGlass Magazine and Architects’ Guide to Glass magazine. Ellen received a degree from Peace College where she studied journalism.

Ellen enjoys running and competes regularly in races including half and full marathons. When not on the go, Ellen enjoys reading, wine wasting, true crime shows, and family game nights with her husband and son. Their favorite game is Clue. Ellen also bakes what is known locally as “World Famous Oatmeal Cookies.”


17 responses 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!

  2. I’ve been needing to replace glass doors, and I think that being able to look for good help would be good. I’m glad you talked about being able to know your budget for glass doors. I’m going to have to look for a good replacement door, and see what we can find within our budget! Thanks!

  3. My husband and I would love to get a patio door, but we don’t know how to choose a door. Thank you for the information about all the different types and materials! We will definitely have to determine our budget first before we decide, like you mentioned, so we can get everything in our price range.

  4. I appreciate how you mentioned that aluminum doors and hardware are sturdy and low maintenance. My current door on my patio has been falling apart, and I want to find a new door that is sturdy, cost-effective, and energy sufficient. With getting a new patio door, I think I’ll go with aluminum as the material I opt for.

  5. My husband and I are looking for a new glass, patio door, and we are wondering how to find the best one for us. So I like how you mention that a sliding one won’t take up space inside or outside the room. We will definitely have to start looking at sliding glass doors for our patio since there isn’t much room in that area of our room.

  6. I agree that you want to consider a sliding door that compliments the overall look of your house. It would be good to consider what sort of qualities you want a door to have before you choose it. My husband and I are looking for a good sliding door, so we’ll have to make sure it matches the rest of our house.

  7. It would be interesting to know the glass area in a patio door. I saw a review on a box store website where the owner of a newly installed garden door was quite disappointed that there was far less light coming in than when the closure was a sliding door.

  8. My wife and I recently built a patio, so we are looking into installing a new door for it. I like your point about how steel doors are durable energy efficient. We might consider these types of doors so they will last longer.

  9. I loved it when you said that a sliding glass door might not be perfect for a house that has an older and more traditional design. This tip is perfect because the house is not really traditional in design. It is a modern looking house with a lot of large windows, so a sliding glass door is really perfect for the patio. Anyway, hopefully, it works. I will call a professional to take a look at the patio so that I can start the renovation ASAP.

  10. We are looking for a new patio door. I got a great quote from conservation construction of dallas. I am impressed with them but I am going to look around too to make sure I am getting a good deal

  11. Thanks for explaining how a sliding door can provide an easy transition from inside to outside. It would make sense to find something that fits with the style of your home as well. My husband and I are looking for a new glass patio door, so we’ll have to consider a sliding door.

  12. I liked what you said about sliding doors allowing you ample views. My husband and I have been thinking about replacing our current patio doors to really take in the view from our house. It would be great to have something like sliding doors so that we can take advantage of the views on our property.

  13. I’m looking to replace my sliding patio door this summer. Can you recommend the best patio doors to choose from?

    • Hi Gary,

      Thanks for the question! There are many great patio door brands to choose from. The best thing to do is use Glass.com to find a local window and door dealer near you who can educate you on the pros and cons of each of their lines.

  14. Looking to replace a hinged patio door with a slider. The hinged door leaks a lot of air. The door is on the east side of the house, and is prone to east winds in the winter. Looking for a patio door that is well insulated and will not steam over or freeze over in the cold weather in Michigan.

  15. We live in Palm Springs, so our biggest issues are going to be heat and sun. We haver to replace three 25-year old aluminum sliding glass doors, one 6-foot, and two 8-foot doors. In your article, vinyl, wood, and metal (aluminum or steel) seem challenged or maybe contra-indicated in one of the hottest areas in the country.

    My question is: Who makes fiberglass sliding doors? And, who will sell us sliders that we can install ourselves if we need to?

  16. I really appreciate your tip to choose a door that compliments the overall look of your house. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new door for our backyard since we got a new back patio. I will be sure to find one that matches our new patio.

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