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How To Choose the Right Patio Doors for Your Home

Posted by Jason Dowdy on August 24, 2022 in Pella Windows & Doors of Virginia

sliding patio doors

When it comes to designing your patio, your door choice is a key part of the process. With many different options and configurations of sliding patio doors and hinged (French) patio doors available, it can be hard to choose. Plus, you also have to take into consideration the style and design of your house, as well as functionality, pricing and maintenance of the doors. This blog will explore a few questions to ask yourself that can help make your decision easier.

Comparing Sliding Glass Doors and Hinged Patio Doors

patio doors

What Door Configuration Do I Want?

You'll want to select a configuration that features the functionality you need to make the most of your patio. For example, if you plan to use it as an entertaining space, an outswing door might make it easier for you to carry food, drinks and extra furniture outside. Here are the configurations you can choose from:

  • Traditional French door – Side-by-side doors that are both operable (active) and swing open from the center.
  • Single operable hinged door – With double French doors, you can choose to have just one door active. An active/inactive configuration could be a consideration for homeowners who like the look of traditional French doors but have limited floor space for both to swing. A single-hinged door provides simple elegance.
  • Inswing door – Inswing refers to a door that swings into the interior of a home.
  • Outswing door - Outswing refers to the active panel swinging outward.
  • Sliding – Sliding glass doors don’t swing open so they require less floor space. They are available in various materials and glass options to match your home’s look.

How Much Space Do I Have To Work With?

The layout of your room and furniture could have a big impact on what type of door you choose. It may be easier to have a sliding glass door that moves side to side if you don’t have a lot of space for a hinged door to swing. While sliding glass doors do allow you to be more flexible with your furniture arrangements, it may not be the best design choice for your room.

Hinged doors allow you to create a larger opening, making it easier to move things in and out. With sliding glass doors, you are limited to how big you can create the opening.

The type of configuration you choose will always be impacted by your space. For example, if you choose double French doors, that is now two doors that must be able to swing in or out and take up floor space. Make sure to talk to your design consultant to see what configuration may work best for your home.

What Suits My Home's Design?

Both sliding doors and hinged French doors are unique when it comes to their designs; they each can add something different to the look of your home.

Sliding doors can be a huge source of natural light, featuring large glass planes that create an open, welcoming feel into your home. Sliding glass windows have nothing blocking them and allow you to take full advantage of the view of your backyard. As such a big source of light, they can also create the illusion that your room is bigger than it is. If you’re someone who wants a bit more privacy but still likes the idea of the sliding door, then built-in blinds can easily be added to your doors to give you the privacy that you want.

French doors are an ideal choice for those with a traditional or historic home. French doors can easily match the style and design of older homes while maintaining a timeless look — they'll no doubt be the focal point in any room.

patio doors

Will My Environment Impact My Door Choice?

The region you live in can also have an impact on which type of door best suits your home. In regions where the climate is windy, sliding glass doors may be the better choice, as they won’t blow open as easily as hinged doors.

If your heart is set on hinged doors, carefully consider which way it swings in and out. If you live somewhere where it snows a lot, having a door that swings outward may not be the best as the door could get blocked. But, with inswing doors, there is a chance that opening them could let snow or rain into your home.

These are all things to consider when picking out which doors and configuration would work for you and the area you live in.

What Maintenance is Required?

To make the life of your patio doors last longer, it’s important to maintain and inspect your doors every month. There are a few different things that you can do to help your doors last longer, such as:

  • Clean your glass - It’s very important to clean your glass, not only to make it more appealing but also to help your doors last longer. It’s important to not allow dust and grime to build up on the glass. Cleaning it regularly can help slow down the debris build up around the frame and track. To clean your glass, you can use ammonia-free window cleaner and newspaper to help remove all the dust and dirt. This can help expand the lifespan of your door.
  • Wipe down the frame - Keeping your door frame clean can help prevent damage to your door. This can help slow down the weather damage to both the door frame and the seal. Your frame can be easily cleaned with by wiping the dust away and then following it with warm soapy water. It’s important to avoid using harsh chemicals as they can damage your door. With wooden frames, make sure to revarnish when necessary after the original begins to wear down.
  • Replace worn-out weather strips - Old or worn-down weather strips won’t help to protect your doors from environmental elements. It’s important to replace them when needed. Installation is simple and effective in helping preserve your door.
  • Inspect your locks - For your security, it’s important to check your locking mechanism at least once a month for any signs of damage. If you notice any type of damage that goes beyond what you can fix yourself, you may want to look into getting your locks replaced.

Special Maintenance Considerations for Sliding Doors: 

patio doors

  • Clean your track - Sliding patio door tracks can undergo harsh wear and tear from pet hair, dirt, dust and seasonal weather. It’s important to clean your track and rollers monthly to make sure they continue to work properly. To clean your track, you can use a vacuum to get rid of any loose debris and dust. Next, you can use warm soapy water to wipe away any remaining dirt — use an old toothbrush to get the dirt out of the smaller spaces.
  • Lubricate your track - Lubricating the bottom of your track can help it from getting stuck. Make sure you do this after you have already cleaned your track. It’s important to note that not all tracks may need lubrication. Some tracks only require a light cleaning. Make sure you check what type of track you have and research if adding lubrication could help.
  • Replace worn out rollers - Dirty rollers can cause problems for your door and make it difficult to open or close. Make sure that you clean and lubricate your rollers as necessary. If your door rollers are damaged, it's time to replace them. Make sure when checking or installing your rollers that you align them correctly and adjust the screws as needed until the door moves with ease.
  • Align door panels - A poor installation job or slamming your sliding glass door can cause misalignment, making it hard to use. Too much debris in the track and on the rollers can also cause the door to fall out of alignment, which is why it’s important to keep these items both clean. This can be fixed by adjusting the roller screws or removing the door and resetting it in the frame, top to bottom.

Special Maintenance Considerations for French Doors:

patio doors

  • Check your door hinges: It’s important that when your French doors are installed, they are hinged properly. If you find your doors opening or closing by themselves, a hinge adjustment is needed to fix this. Make sure that you don’t screw your hinges in too tightly, as this can cause a lot of strain on the door and its frame, leading to damage. Check your hinges once a month to make sure there is no damage to them and they're working properly.

Making the Decision

When it comes to picking and choosing whether to get a sliding glass door or a French door, there truly is no wrong answer. As Property Brother Johnathan Scott said, “When choosing between sliders or French doors, they’re both right.”

In the end, it comes down to your preference and what you think works best for your home. Contact a Pella design consultant today or stop by a showroom to see how we can help you pick your dream patio door.

About The Author

After 15 years of sales and sales management in the home improvement industry, Jason joined the Pella team in 2017. He brought with him a desire to create a positive and professional sales culture with the goal of creating a memorable buying experience for Pella customers. He has his B.A. and MBA from Virginia Tech and enjoys running and family time with his wife Mary and son Nolan when he’s not at the office.

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