Sliding Patio Door Preferences
What are you looking for from a sliding patio door? Sliding type doors are probably the most common due to their reasonable cost. A sliding patio door set is available in a number of type and materials.
The most popular is probably aluminum type. This material is quite strong and lightweight at the same time slim line framing is possible increasing the area of glass in the door panels and less on obstructive views. Another material is PVC but you will find that the actual dimensional section of the framing is quite large if compare to aluminum. Wood is also available but less popular than aluminum and PVC. Price wise, aluminum and wood are probably similar in price with PVC being the least expensive.
The sliding mechanism used for patio doors is a track system both mounted in the floor and overhead above the doors. Each door panel has rollers that run in the tracks resulting in a smooth sliding action to the side. Smaller door units consists of two doors running on a double track system while longer openings will have three or more doors that run on a three track arrangement.
With a typical sliding type patio doors the standard opening is about 8 feet or so. You re will note that you will only be able to use about 4 feet (50%) of the overall opening for passing in and out. This is because one of the doors will slide to the rear of the other to create the opening hence the 4 feet space. With a triple track system the useable opening increases to about two thirds (66%) of the structural opening.
Patio doors are easy to install and usually come in a kit for assembling on-site. The door panels consist of large panes of glazing which must meet the building code safety and thermal efficiency regulations. You may also require approval from your local planning authority to fit these large doors in your home so before starting you should investigate what is required for this type of installation.
If sliding type doors is not for you then exterior French doors should be considered. These are doors that swing on hinges fixed to a frame the same as a traditional door. They usually come as a pair and contain large full height glazed panels. The main difference with these doors compare to sliding type is when both doors are fully opened almost 100% of the structural opening is usable. One downside is that there must be sufficient space available allowing the doors to swing in order to get the maximum benefit.
With French doors the structural opening can be quite small compared to sliding type. The reason this is each door leaf is limited to a maximum of 3 feet wide or so. Beyond this dimension the doors become really heavy due to the glass.
Cost of all types at similar size is probably comparable for materials and installation but the preference will be down to the taste of the consumer and practical advantages that best fit your circumstances.