Patio doors aren’t like other entrances in a home. While they offer style and functionality, they also act as a gateway to the great outdoors - your backyard, patio, pool, garden, or balcony. To keep your patio door looking and operating its best, you need to ensure you’re performing regular cleaning and upkeep. Whether your door is relatively new or you’re beginning to notice some wear and tear, this guide will provide quick and easy tips on what, when and how to clean your aluminum patio door to extend the value it can provide over the years.

What Makes Aluminum So Great?

aluminum empire state

In addition to the 730 tons of aluminum used to build the Empire State Building, a further 5,460 windows in the historic building were replaced with aluminum frames in 1994.

The use of aluminum in manufacturing and construction has been widespread since the early nineteen hundreds. Manhattan’s Empire State Building was the first structure in history to make major use of aluminum components and fabricated structures. The metal was used instead of steel or iron because of its durability and strength; aluminum offers excellent structural integrity but weighs anywhere from 35-65% less than other metals, and aluminum will not rust. A highly durable material, when aluminum is well-maintained, it can keep the same finish and look for decades.

However, aluminum is not impervious to damage. Things like exposure to flames, excessive heat, scraping, concrete spillage, stucco, paint, and other harmful construction materials or processes will damage your aluminum patio door and should never come in contact with the glass, frame, and hardware. While resistant to rust and corrosion, exposure to acidic or caustic chemicals can discolour aluminum or ruin the door’s coating or finish. Don’t panic though! We’ll walk you through how to safely and easily clean each component.

What You Will Need:

Below is a short list of items you will need to clean aluminum patio doors, most of which can be found around your home or at a local hardware store.

• Mild liquid dish soap
• Pack of microfiber cleaning cloths
• Paper towels
• Warm water
• 2x plastic buckets
• Glass cleaner (e.g., Windex)
• Nylon bristle brush
• Spare cleaning rag

What, When and How to Clean:

Once you’ve assembled all your supplies, you’re ready to begin. We’ll go over how to clean each component, and it takes very little time to get your door looking like new again.

The Glass (five to ten times a year)

When cleaning the glass, start by removing any obvious dirt or dust on the surface. You can accomplish this by first going over the surface of the glass with a dry microfiber cloth (to remove dust particles), and then again with a damp cloth. If you notice any harder substances stuck to the glass’ surface, such as glue, caulking, paint, etc., do not attempt to remove it yourself. Chipping away at construction materials can cause serious damage to your glass door, and you should instead contact a glass cleaning professional.

Once you’ve cleared the surface of grime, spray the glass with an approved glass cleaning agent like Windex. We refer to Windex here, but any consumer glass cleaner with a pH neutral rating of between 6 and 8 will do. A non-acidic and non-caustic cleaning agent is a must as these substances can damage and discolour the aluminum frame and hardware.

Next, gently wipe left to right across the window cleaning agent with a dry microfiber cloth, and then make a second pass across the same area but this time wiping from top to bottom. Repeat this process across the whole glass surface of your aluminum patio door and use a dry microfiber cloth to buff out any remaining imperfections.

The Frame (once or twice a year)

To clean the aluminum surface of the frame, begin by mixing warm water and a tablespoon of mild dish soap in a plastic bucket. Next, wet a microfiber cloth in the water-dish soap solution and wipe down the frame. To make it easier, start from the top of the frame and work your way down - this will also speed up your cleaning time. Next, wet a clean microfiber cloth in warm water and rinse off the soapy residue on the surface of the aluminum frame. Finally, use a dry cloth to rub away any remaining moisture. So that’s it for the frame! By using only safe, mild cleaning substances like water and dish soap, you’re able to clean your door without discolouring, or damaging the aluminum surface.

The Sliding Track (once or twice a year)

There are two components of the sliding track which require regular cleaning: the sliding track itself, and the drainage or “weep” holes along the side of the doorsill. Dirt and sand can collect in the bottom profile of your sliding door and become caught up in the sliding track. This will reduce the smoothness of opening and closing the door.

To avoid this, wipe the track of the door with a damp cloth soaked in the water and dish soap solution you used to clean the frame. If there is a lot of dirt or sand, use a vacuum cleaner to remove the loose particles before wiping. After wiping with dish soap and water, rinse the track using a damp cloth soaked in warm water and scrub any persistent grime with a soft-bristled nylon bristle brush.

Weep hole aluminum

The weep holes along the side of the doorsill also require regular maintenance. If you notice water pooling in the track or doorsill of your sliding patio door, there is a blockage in one or more of your door’s drainage holes. If the blockage is visible on or near the outside of the drainage hole, clear it using a cloth or brush. If the blockage is not visible, gently insert a thin coated wire or twist-tie into the drainage hole and attempt to clear the blockage this way. Pour a small amount of water into the sill track to determine if the blockage is gone; if the water drains through exterior weep holes, then the system is clear. If the blockage persists, contact a service technician for help.

The Hardware (once or twice a year)

Like the aluminum frame, you’ll only want to use dish soap and water when cleaning the hardware (handles and locks) of your door. Wipe the hardware with a microfiber cloth dipped in the soapy solution, and then rinse it using a damp cloth soaked in warm water. Finally, wipe away any excess moisture using a dry cloth or paper towel. Do not use acidic or caustic cleaners on any of the hardware - depending on the material used for your door’s hardware; you could damage the look and/or functionality.

Finally, be sure to clean the weather-strips on your patio door at least once per year. First, inspect the weather stripping around the edges of your patio door. If you notice any strips that are missing, torn, cracked or brittle, these should be replaced. If the weather-stripping looks intact but dirty, use water and dish soap with a damp cloth to wipe them. Rinse the strips with a damp cloth in warm water, and dry thoroughly.

Cleaning your aluminum patio door and performing some simple maintenance should only take about 45 minutes. Doing this several times a year using the methods described above will extend the life of your investment and keep your cherished gateway to the outside world looking great.

Built to Last!

Sunview patio doors are built with the highest quality materials and are engineered to strike a balance between durability, ease-of-use, and beauty. To learn more about our wide selection aluminum or vinyl patio doors, visit the product pages at www.sunviewdoors.com.

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