The sliding glass door is a staple of homes of any style. Chances are, if you have a patio door, it’s a sliding glass door.
Sliding patio doors are a great use of space. They slide open within the door frame so you can place furniture, decor or a grill in front of the inoperable panel without blocking the flow of the room. And they don’t take up much wall space, making them a good fit for homes of all sizes.
When it comes time to replace a sliding door, many homeowners stick with what they know. But there’s an array of other patio door options and configurations available.
3-Panel and 4-Panel Sliding Glass Doors
Two panels are the standard size for sliding glass doors for a reason — they take up the least amount of space. But you’d be surprised at the difference an extra panel or two makes. Upgrading to a 3-panel sliding glass door increases your natural light by 50 percent. A 4-panel sliding glass door creates an even wider opening.
With a 3-panel sliding patio door, the functionality remains the same — one panel slides open while the others remain fixed. You can choose whichever panel you want to operate — left, middle or right — to best fit the layout of your space. For 4-panel sliding glass doors, the middle two panels are operable and slide open over the outer panels, giving you double the space for foot traffic or just feeling the open air.
Swapping out an old sliding glass door for a new 3-panel or 4-panel model can be a great option for homes that lack the wall space for larger openings or need to conserve space on a small patio. You can even upgrade to multiple panels without ripping out your entire wall by choosing narrow glass panels.
Exterior Pocket Doors
Pocket doors have been used on the interior of homes for centuries. They slide open and tuck right into the wall. They can blend in with the door frame, so you may not even know they are there.
On the patio, pocket sliding glass doors function the same way. But instead of a closed-off door, you get a beautiful glass wall that connects your home to the outdoors. Each panel of a multi-slide patio door glides open, stacking up as you create a wide opening so you can seamlessly blend your indoor and outdoor spaces. You can customize exterior pocket doors with anywhere from four to 10 panels to fit the size of your wall and patio. And if you don't have the room to store the panels inside the wall, multi-slide patio door panels can also be stacked at the edge of the track outside the wall.
Exterior Double French Doors
Like pocket doors, French doors are a stylish feature on the inside of a home often seen in traditional architecture. And they’re used on patios more than any other patio door type outside of sliding glass doors.
Exterior French doors are classic in terms of both style and functionality. They can improve the aesthetic in the same amount of space as an existing sliding door, making for a much less extensive patio door replacement project.
With double hinged French doors, you also get greater latitude to configure your patio door to your needs. You can choose narrow doors for tighter spaces, inswing to preserve patio space or outswing to save space on the inside. You also have options for functionality. You can have both French doors be operable or leave one panel fixed like a traditional sliding glass door.
Exterior Bifold Glass Doors
Bifold doors offer many of the same benefits as pocket doors. They are just as often used in movable glass walls to achieve a modern style and an ever-expandable living space. But instead of hiding away in pockets, exterior bifold doors fold up and out of the way at the edges of the patio door frame.
Exterior folding doors offer a plethora of configuration opportunities. Customize the size and number of panels, where they open and meet and whether they create a straight, curved or angled glass wall.
Considerations for Patio Door Configurations
When choosing your sliding glass door replacement, the most important consideration is space. You should always start with an accurate measurement. In order to get a new patio door that fits your current opening, you must measure your current sliding door correctly. And if you’re looking to carve out space for more glass, you need to measure the rest of the wall too.
An in-home measurement by a window and door professional ensures you get the exact right size of patio door. It’s an especially good idea if you plan to make a switch from an old sliding glass door to a patio door with multiple panels or different functionality.
Once you have an accurate measurement or idea on the size of the patio door you want, measure the space directly in front of this area on the inside and outside of your home. Upgrading from a sliding glass door might disrupt your design or layout. You want to make sure you have the square footage for the patio door you desire. And you need to find out whether your furniture and decor can simply be moved a few feet or if you have to redecorate the space to better fit the new patio door.
Sliding glass doors may often come standard, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to designing your home. By exploring all the patio door options and configurations, you can find inspiration from a new style to build the indoor/outdoor entertainment space of your dreams.