How to choose the right patio doors

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The right set of patio doors can transform your home, create a picture frame for nature’s stunning scenery and add value to your house, providing you get it right. 

There are so many options that you should really spend some time considering what you’re looking for, and what exactly the effect you’re going for is. Of course price comes into it, but there are a number of options at equivalent pricing, so make sure you know what you’re after well in advance. 

Sliding doors?

The most obvious point to consider is whether to go for sliding, French or sliding-folding doors. Each has its own advantages, so make sure you’ve tested the options and really considered the space they’ll be going into before taking the plunge. Sliding doors often offer the biggest aperture, better glass to frame ratio and allow for more light to flood into your room; they slide into cavities built into walls so they don’t require any extra space for opening and closing, and they are available in a variety of finishes.

By their very nature they suit a modern, minimalist building and can look out of place in a traditional house, so while you might fall in love with the silent and elegant action of a sliding door and minimal frames, think about the context of its surroundings.

French doors are another possibility, especially for the period properties. French doors open like a regular door and they can easily be designed to match the style of your windows. They aren’t so limited in their design and can add a real touch of class to a period property, as well as being cheaper to buy and install thanks to their simplicity.

Go alfresco

Folding-sliding doors might not be as attractive at first glance, but their concertina style means that they can take up the side of a room with ease. The entire lounge or dining room can be turned into an alfresco experience, with one wall removed almost completely on the warmer days. The doors do take up significant space and the cost is certainly a consideration too. 

Material world

With the basic style in place, it’s time to think about materials. Aluminium is a favourite thanks to its light weight, durability and ability to take the significant load of the glass. This metal can cost more than the other options, but for the ultimate patio doors it really is the preferred option.

Some people simply wouldn’t want anything other than natural timber, with hardwoods like oak lasting longer than pine and requiring much less maintenance. Of course wood is organic and must be taken care of, but if you follow the basic maintenance regime then many of today’s treated woods will last as well as metal.

uPVC is the cheapest option, but due to the structural integrity of the material the frames tend to be thicker, and obviously there’s a price to pay when it comes to the aesthetics. 

U've been framed

Lastly, think about the glass. In the olden days a patio door was an absolute drain when it came to energy efficiency as heat escaped through the glass, the edges, more or less everywhere. Not anymore; indeed a good patio door can be more energy efficient than the wall that gives its life for the cause. Be careful to check the U value of the patio doors, which tells you everything about the insulation. Government building regulations insist that patio doors should have a 1.6 U value and no more, but most of today’s modern patio doors will beat this with ease.

Triple glazing costs more, but it can pay for itself over the years and will keep your house warm in winter. To go that little bit further you could look into E-coated glass. This low emission glass is covered with a coating that is invisible to the naked eye but reduces heat loss, reflecting heat back into your property.

So there’s a lot to consider, but a patio door is a major investment. So get informed, and get it right.


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