* The safety of a potential point of entry for a home intruder.
* The energy efficiency of a glass wall that could generate huge utility bills if not properly insulated.
* The style and appearance inside and out.
Two Types of Patio doors
Patio doors either slide open & closed, or they open and close on hinges. Sliding doors allow you to place furniture right up against the entryway. Hinged doors can open into the home or out onto the patio. In some areas, fire codes prohibit doors that open outward (they could potentially inhibit firefighters from entering during a fire), so check with local officials before buying.
Make your choice by considering the physical layout of the interior and the patio of your home, along with the type of furnishings you want near the door. All patio doors can be customized with windows and panels above or around the entryway to add some style to the portal and create a “wall of windows” that add light to the interior of the home. Budget and imagination are the only limitations.
Sliding Patio Doors: The style most of us grew up with. They’re still very popular, but they’re definitely better built. Some people used to secure their sliding doors with a broomstick or a 2x4 wedged between the sliding door and the fixed panel. New designs feature a “foot bolt” that locks the sliding door from within. Not only can you securely lock your door shut with this system, you can also lock the door into an open position that allows a pet or a breeze to move in and out, but does not allow enough room for an intruder to come inside and unlock the bolt. Our segment featured sliding doors with standard deadbolts and a key lock system that offers the option of matching the patio door lock key to the key that locks your front door.
Hinged Patio Doors: These doors open and close like front doors – on hinges. These offer better insulation than sliding doors because the seal on a hinged door is more air-tight. One model we featured has an insulating system that features three clawed hooks that pull the door into the frame when the door’s locked. It seals out the elements and definitely adds security, because in effect you have three deadbolts securing the door once it’s locked.
Three Predominant Materials for Patio Doors
Aluminum: low-cost & low-end for the most part; they’re poor insulators, not as popular as they once were.
Vinyl: very popular now, more expensive, better insulators, vinyl holds up well against the extreme elements.
Wood: most expensive, and most durable. We featured wood patio doors which are clad in vinyl on the exterior side to better withstand weather. This adds durability on the exterior side while preserving the beauty of wood on the inside. You can stain or paint the wood interior to suit any interior décor, but the vinyl exterior won’t fade in the summer sun, so you don’t have to repaint the exterior every year.
Glass in Patio Doors
Single-pane glass in patio doors is least expensive to purchase, but offers limited insulation. Higher utility bills due to poor insulation will actually cost a homeowner more money over time. Single-paned glass is not very popular anymore.
Double-pane glass is very common now, because it insulates so well compared to single-paned glass. Most manufacturers fill the dead air gap between panes with Argon, an inert gas (therefore safe) that’s heavier than air. Those heavier molecules move slower than air when they’re heated, so they transmit heat poorly – that’s another way of saying they insulate better.
Triple-pane glass was once thought to offer the best insulation, but that’s being phased out now, because double-paned doors with Low-E glass insulate better than the (very expensive) triple-paned glass of old.
Low-E Glass: Glass is coated on the inner side of double-paned panels (because it should not come in contact with skin) with a transparently thin layer of metal that reflects radiant heat up to 90%. Low-E coating very slightly alters the transparency of a window. In summer heat, Low-E glass reflects excess radiant heat out of the home. In winter, Low-E glass reflects radiant heat back into the home while still allowing direct heat from the sun to enter a window. Low-E is short for “low moisture" These designs “reflect” more heat than they “emit”.
Stylistic choices & options are limited only by budget and imagination. You can design a patio entryway with a single door (hinged or gliding), double doors, an entryway with a fixed panel to one side, fixed panels on either side of working doors, transoms above each door, picture windows above or beside the entryway. You can literally create a wall of glass if your budget allows. Just remember to always consider security, energy efficiency and style as you design your patio doorway.