A patio door is not just any point of access in a home, it’s a special gateway to the great outdoors, such as your patio, pool, garden or balcony. Buying a patio door isn’t something you do every day, and the purchase needs to offer a combination of style, cost-effectiveness, and functionality in a single package. As simple as the buying process may seem, there are many variables to consider, all of which are important in selecting the best choice to meet your needs. Let’s explore some key areas to keep in mind when making your decision.
Patio doors can be made from metal, wood, plastic, or a combination of these materials found in a new class of doors called hybrids. The right choice can greatly depend on the geographic location and the typical weather conditions in your area. Style preference and budget are also key factors in the equation.
The majority of patio doors sold in North America are referred to as “vinyl” since they are made using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. Vinyl doors are extremely durable and long-lasting which makes them a good return on the investment. This material is strong, resilient and easy to maintain. Plus, they are generally less expensive than doors made from other types of materials and vinyl offers superior energy efficiency.
Aluminum-made doors are also prominent in the marketplace. Although aluminum doors generally offer lower thermal performance then vinyl, they are often used in condominium and other commercial developments because of their strength and fire ratings. Aluminum doors have also become popular since they are lighter than steel, but provide comparable levels of strength and durability.
Another option for patio door buyers are products made from wood. Some are drawn to the aesthetics of wood because it can provide an authentic, artistic and in some cases, rustic look. However, wood doors are typically more expensive and require significantly more maintenance than aluminum or vinyl. Due to the impact of moisture, wood patio doors are not as durable as some of the other available options.
In recent years, a new breed of patio door has been gaining buyer momentum. By using a hybrid approach, patio door manufacturers are now producing products using a combination of vinyl, aluminum, wood, and new synthetic materials. Sunview’s new 2900 Hybrid as an example, is built using vinyl as the interior core of the frame, while the exterior is constructed of aluminum. This type of product combines the strength and rigidity of aluminum - with the warmth, energy efficiency, and lower maintenance of vinyl.
There are three primary door types to choose from and these relate to the way the door opens and closes.
The first and most common is the sliding patio door, sometimes referred to as a “slider.” Because the door slides from side to side, sliders are ideal for smaller interior spaces or situations where furniture is close to the door - the kitchen table and chairs for example. They provide a modern look and are fitted with a rail and roller system making them generally less expensive than other options. Sliding patio doors are also easier to install.
A swing door, also commonly known as a French door, is fitted with hinges and can come in a variety of styles to create a look of elegance. This type of patio door usually opens or swings into a room which can be an issue at times if furniture or other fixtures block the full swinging motion. A swing door offers a unique look and style, however, water and structural performance often do not compare to sliders.
These types of doors come in a variety of sizes and configurations. Folding doors, sometimes called bi-folds, allow you to open up extremely large areas of an entryway since the doors are divided into smaller panels. It’s similar to the concept of a bifold closet door, but a folding door can open from a few feet to over 50 feet allowing people the freedom to walk in and out as they please. These types of doors such as Sunview’s Muskoka folding glass wall system are designed for a variety of residential and commercial applications when people really want to connect with the outside world.
Patio Door Glass Options
Modern advances over the last few years have standardized the way manufacturers glaze doors. The current industry standard offers a door with an argon filled insulated sealed unit containing a warm edge spacer and a low E coated glass. Superior energy performance can be achieved by utilizing triple-sealed glass units or adding multiple low E layers. A combination of low E options, layers of glass, types of spacer all contribute to the end result of energy savings and comfort. Whether you live in Yuma Arizona or the Yukon, there is a glass package that will meet your comfort and energy needs. Working with a trusted partner will enable you to select the appropriate package. Energy Star Compliant products offer the highest efficiency.
When choosing a new patio door, there is also a wide range of optional accessories to consider. Along with many options in terms of door colour, most manufacturers offer stylish grills and other ornamental trimmings. Transoms are available if you want a small window area above the door and sidelites for the same impact on the door sides. Mini-blinds that fit between the glass panes are also very popular for privacy and control the amount of light the door lets in.
Today’s patio doors come with a variety of security options such as multi-point locking systems, security bars, and other security devices designed to thwart would-be thieves. Sliding patio doors are recognized by law enforcement agencies as one of the safer options because the panels are difficult to penetrate and breaking glass is bound to alert neighbors because of the noise. It is advisable to always keep safety in mind and by looking for security features when buying a patio door.
Outlined above are some of the more important elements you should consider when buying a new patio door. Many options and additional accessories are available and there are other important variables such as your local weather and personal style preferences. Whatever you decide, a patio door is a great way to enhance your property and its value.
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