Patio Doors: The Complete Buying Guide

Patio Doors: The Complete Buying Guide for Homeowners

Patio doors are not mere chunky gateways to the lush garden or deck in the house. It is about enhanced mobility, convenience, security, and property value.

Period-style backdoors may be high on aesthetics but lack advanced features and functionality. Fortunately, compromising for limited choices is a thing of the past.

A feature-rich modern door wall can transform your outdoor living experience. Today door specialists offer umpteen styles, material options, colours, fixtures, and bespoke designs to complement your building construction pattern. Moreover, with double-glazing glasses, you can save money on energy bills.

In this article, I will share all the information you need when choosing the best patio door.

sliding doors

Patio Doors – Types and Styles

While modish exterior doors elevate elegance, thermal insulation mechanism, and functionality, there are considerations regarding door types, styles, and designs.

Dive in to explore the available options and what they offer:

#1. Sliding Doors

Sliding doors fit varying outer opening solutions without occupying extra space. It can be a small pocket door (also called cavity slider) running into the wall or an in-line multi-panel configuration for broad stretches. This style is also preferable for balconies.

Homeowners have umpteen profile choices based on the available space, track installation (top/bottom mount gears), material, and more. Here are the common sliding door patterns:

• Double/Triple Track Slider: Wide glass doors are an alternative to tiny windows for enhanced brightness and delightful garden views. You may install up to 5 doors for the 4760 mm-5000 mm aperture width range. However, 2-3 sections are ideal for residential units.
• Centre-Opening: This twin-door style endows the wow factor to your premises without losing the floor space. Each panel slides to either side, creating a wide gap for panoramic views and a cool breeze in summer.
• Slide and Turn/Slide and Stack Doors: This is an option to get full-width aperture opening like bi-fold doors for maximum airflow and accessibility. The non-connected panels can be glided to one side and turned for stacking up together within a narrow space.


• Ease of accessibility makes sliding panels a popular choice for backdoor profiles. When doors are shut in winter, creating a narrow opening for entry and exit is easy with slider models. It is an inevitable option for high-traffic areas.
• Align the door size in proportion to the existing windows.
• These doors are available in various frame materials paired with energy-saving double-glazed glasses at different price margins.
• Sliding doors can be enhanced with security hardware such as auxiliary foot locks, multi-point locking systems, and other attachments.


• Frequent cleaning is necessary for effortless door gliding across the rolling gears.

#2. Folding/Accordion/Bifold Doors

Bifold external doors are crafted for large spaces and luxurious vibes. These multi-door profiles may have 3 or more panels hinged together. When opening, all the panels are stacked at the side for far-ranging views, wind, and sunlight.

Folding arrangements are for creating wide openings. Accessibility can be a problem in winter since massive gaps mean heat loss. The configuration may include a swinging traffic door allowing users to open a single panel for quick pop-in and pop-out. Needless to fold all the leaves for short-term use.


• The wide gap eases mobility in large areas, allowing maximum natural light and airflow. It also gives a comprehensive view of the outdoor complex.
• All leaves can be stacked in a small space on a side. There is an option to choose an inward or outward opening.
• The panels can be opened partially or entirely, depending on your choice.
• The accordion design offers flexibility to choose from various materials and configurations.

• Bi-fold doors are the most expensive styles in the market. The intricate mechanism can take up to a day of work for installation, raising the labour costs.
• Despite taking limited space for stacking up, you need ample free room when opening and closing the leaves. Ensure there are structures or furniture pieces nearby blocking the door functionality.

#3. French Doors

The unparalleled legacy of French doors (hinged patio doors) never seems to go outdated. These quintessential doors are ideal for small spaces, offering profound remodelling possibilities. The basic style comprises two hinged panels (small/big grided glass panes) opening into the garden or deck area. You can also get this classic art facsimile in sliding grided design.


• These doors with wide frames pair best with security multi-point locking systems, complex hinges, and other fixtures. French doors are highly recommended for external doors- front and patio.
• Today these doors are made of double-glazing insulation units for utmost energy efficiency. Single-grid models allow natural light and unimpeded outdoor sightlines.
• Wooden doors are tinted with microporous paints that last for years. All material options ensure top-notch functionality at low to no maintenance.
• These hinged doors are easy to clean due to their minimalist design.


• French doors are expensive. The complicated design involves hours of work, raising labour costs.
• These doors require extra outdoor space for seamless opening. It is not the best suit for compact spaces.
• There is a limited doorway gap with a maximum of 2-panel configuration.

#4. Corner Doors (Sliding and Bi-fold)

An open-corner door model can enhance visibility and mobility if your patio area is visible from two sides of the room. The mechanism involves creating sliding or folding doors so that the panels meet at the corner of the room.

This is an excellent strategy to allow natural light into the dark areas from twin directions. Besides the gorgeous look, corner doors facilitate optimal functionality of the outdoor space. The structure may be supported with a wide pillar to balance the load. Several modernist homes have floating corners without any base support.


• Exterior corner doors are space-saving models for compact rooms. Instead of taking an entire wall, the panels occupy only a fraction of the expanse. Pocket sliders run into the wall cavity making free room for other purposes.
• The sleek aesthetics augments the curb appeal while connecting the outdoor arrangements to the rest of the house.
• This style forks out the scope of choosing from a range of materials and design patterns aligned with the structural features of the property.

• This style concept has become popular over the past few years. Traditional homes without any open corners may not be suitable for the project. Chipping down an old wall can compromise the strength of the building.

What are the Best Materials for Patio Doors?

1. Timber/Hardwood (Bi-Fold and French Doors)
Timber frames are the top choice for nature-themed patio design. Wood is eternal and planet-friendly material for doors and windows with multiple benefits.

• Hardwood is a robust, durable material to support double-glazed panels for optimal insulation.
• Wooden doors can be custom-built to different architectural forms- rustic, vintage, or contemporary.
• Thick wood frames cut outdoor noise, ensuring peaceful life.

New wooden building materials are a step ahead of traditional pieces. Gone are the days of painting wooden doors and window frames every year. Coating the structures with microporous paints assures safety for wooden furniture and construction against rotting and damage for long years. Moreover, there are plenty of colour options to strike a balance with other parts of the house.

2. Aluminium (Bi-Fold, Sliding, and French Doors)
Aluminium is another option if timber is not your material choice. There are several reasons to choose aluminium frames over others. It is your best bet for making bespoke patio doors.
Whether you love the slimline frameless look or bi-folds for large spaces, the rust-free material is suitable for all types of profiles. Here are some more reasons to go for aluminium frames:

• Sophisticated, clutter-free, and polished look
• Does not crack or rust
• The paint lasts long without peeling or fading
• Lightweight, long-lasting, and durable
• High-end thermal efficiency
• No maintenance required*

*However, you must clean the frame periodically to retain the aesthetic appeal.

3. Composite (Sliding and French Doors)
This hybrid material is made of hardwood concealed in the protective aluminium outer layer. It is an option to prevent snow and rain on wooden frames. The composite pieces combine the sturdiness and durability of both materials, ideal for thick frames for large premises.

With fewer options, you can only get these for sliding and French door models. Not a thing for bi-folds.

4. Galvanised Steel
Steel is heavier than aluminium but is often not preferred for outer doors due to rusting problems. Modish steel frames are ultra-thin with a rust-resistant coating. No other material can surpass the strength and durability of hot dip galvanised steel profiles. It also offers endless design opportunities, including replicating the existing door model.

Here is why people choose steel models despite the heavy price tag:

• Ideal for double-glazed thermal insulation units
• Matchless strength and durability
• Pairs with different door styles
• Compatible with most standard security fixtures
• Fire protection for up to 30 minutes

What about uPVC Patio Doors?

Undoubtedly, uPVC patio doors are the best budget option. A lot of colour options, sleek design, low cost, no warping/cracking, weather-resistant, and no maintenance required. All these seem a bit prompting. Most door companies offer up to 30 years of shelf-life guarantee on these items.

Patio Door Design Options

Designers have come a long way in offering revolutionary backdoor solutions for residential properties. Vibes meet convenience with a set of unique features.
• Full-glass/Frameless
Despite the name, patio doors are not entirely frameless. These full-glass doors (available in bifold and sliding models) are supported by slim aluminium frames for strength, structural integrity, and durability. Glass-to-glass bi-folds and sliding doors are made of impact-resistant double-glazed panels. Frameless models are worthy additions to minimalist-themed homes.
• Shades and Finishes
Choosing from a range of enticing hues is not limited to the material type. There are endless colour options ranging from glossy shades, grained textures and more.

Confused about the right colour for your backdoor?

The online visualiser tool allows users to try the shades to get the best pair with the home décor. Alternatively, consult a designer to pick the perfect shade to add life to the door profile.
• Georgian
Classic French doors with grids are timeless pieces. The style widens the scope of tailoring the door profile to varying building structures. The wide frame, hinge mechanisms, security locks, and grids offer enhanced protection against intruders. Today you can even ask a designer to create a sliding door with grids.
• Glasses
Today most property owners prefer replacing old single-pane glasses with double or triple-glazed panels. However, there are several options when buying double-glazing glasses:
• Low-emissivity coated glasses allow sunlight to pass through for optimal brightness and reflect infrared radiation.
• The solar control glass (east and south-facing exterior doors) blocks UV rays, while the insulation unit traps heat to keep the rooms warm.
• Low-iron glass doors are best for north-facing openings. These glasses trap more heat from the sun for enhanced insulation and savings on energy bills in winter.
• If strength is on your mind, the 6mm toughened glasses offer twin benefits- better insulation and durability. These glasses feature acoustic properties suited for extra-wide panels.

Patio Door Buying Guide for Homeowners

Here is a quick overview of vital factors to consider before installing patio doors in residential properties:
• Average Cost of Installing a Patio Door
Your expenses on a patio door depend on various aspects- material, door type, hardware, labour charges, etc. On average, this can range between £500 – £4000.

The maximum time required to install a patio door is 24 hours for bi-fold profiles and multi-panel configurations. Sliding and French doors can be typically installed within 4-6 hours.
The cost also depends on the type of locks, integrated blinds, mesh bug protectors, and other attachments you wish to install.
• Accessibility and Usage
Despite being an opening solution, patio doors must remain closed during winter to keep your rooms warm. However, for frequent access, slider doors are the ideal choice. You can get in and out quickly in less time while retaining the heat.
• Security Concerns
Security always comes first when installing patio doors. Contemporary patio doors feature burglar-resistant components such as:
• multi-point locking systems (security locking plate on the handles and hinges)
• laminated safety glasses or impact-resistant glazing
• anti-lifting enabled roller shutters with metal slates, etc.

• Light and Ventilation
Homeowners can opt for bespoke designs to build colossal extensions. Pocket slider panels disappear into a wall unit for an uninterrupted outdoor view and plenty of sunlight while regulating ventilation. This works well if you have a kitchenette next to the garden backdoor. It allows the heat and fumes to escape outside, causing an influx of cool air indoors.
• Availability of Space

Wondering how to measure a patio door?

It all depends on your choices and the availability of space. You can go big with up to 6-panel configurations or a single slider unit (budget patio door). Most standard ready-to-install doors fit average room sizes. Nevertheless, you can also opt for custom sizes with bespoke design services.
• Energy Efficiency
Unlike traditional single-glass panels, doors are double-glazed for optimal thermal insulation. These insulated units can make rooms 90% hotter than single glass doors. Heat your rooms naturally to save up to £250 per year.
• Warranty
The warranty period varies for each door part – glasses, frames, locks, and hardware. Most fixtures carry a guarantee of 2-10 years. Most double-glazing companies offer a 10-year guarantee period on insulated panels and frames (may differ depending on the material, style, and model).

Patio Doors – Innovative Features & Trends 2023

Smart Locks

Security is the top priority for every property owner. Patio doors lack functionality unless paired with the right locking system. Choosing smart lock models depends on the door type, material, frame thickness, and other factors. This is where I rely on the professionals for the installation job.

These locks feature cutting-edge technology, such as secure multi-operation modes. This allows users to configure the unlocking options, including keycode, fingerprint, WIFI, FOB, Smartphone, voice commands, etc. Furthermore, auto-locking systems lock the door after a specified span when left unattended, eliminating the need for manual locking.

Yale Conexis L1 digital door lock (compatible with 44-70mm door thickness) offers the convenience of entering or giving access to others using voice assistants, mobile, and more. The product is backed by installation support, so needless to do the chores or call a professional.

Retractable Screens

Top-mounted retractable screens (also called fly screens) ease your life. Regulate ventilation without allowing pests/insects indoors. The invisible mesh does not block natural light from entering the door. From single/double door sizes to bespoke solutions, there are possibilities to match your needs. Some vertical fly screens go invisible when not in use.

Integral/Built-In Blinds

When privacy is on your mind, built-in blinds offer the utmost satisfaction minus the messy cleaning tasks. Integral blinds are housed within the glazing cavity in double-pane sliding, bifold, and French doors. Some integrate glossy Venetian blinds in enticing shades within the glazing cavity. Cordless sliders and concealed blinds are all about effortless user experience.

Multi-Panel Configurations

The emerging trends in patio door design allow homeowners to install up to six sliding panels for wide opening and airflow. You can have multi-panel doors in sliding and bi-fold models. Sliding doors feature sleek powder-coated aluminium frames, smart locks, integral blinds, and energy-efficient glazing to give you an uninterrupted outdoor view and natural light.

Are You Looking to Install a Patio Door?

I hope this article has given you information about different types of patio doors and other elements.

However, choosing a model depends on your home renovation goals. In the end, your choice can help address your specific needs – improved brightness, airflow, energy efficiency, functionality, security, and aesthetics.

If you are stuck, discuss your project with us and get a custom quote. A bespoke patio door can transform your home!

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