Patio door buying guide

Phantom Screens / August 3, 2016

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You can upgrade the look of your home or improve your indoor/outdoor flow by replacing your patio door. Before you start your remodeling project, consider the type of door you want and what materials it will include. Here’s a guide to getting it right.

Types of doors

Start your remodeling project by matching the right type of door to your aesthetic tastes and lifestyle. Since this opening leads to a backyard or patio, this guide focuses on models that have glass.

  • French: French doors are classic, as they’ve been seen in homes for many years. They feature two panels, which open either inward or outward. Each panel is hinged on the door frame and both lock in the center. Many homeowners prefer this style because they let in a lot of light, create a decent-sized entryway and provide natural ventilation. However, you must make sure the space where you install your French doors has enough clearance (and bear in mind that retractable screens offer the only way to screen French doors!).
  • Gliding or sliding: Gliding or sliding doors (terms used interchangeably) feature two or more panels that slide against each other along a track. These doors are versatile because they can be used to fill a large opening when they have many panels. Sliding doors also do not require clearance space and they are airtight. Homeowners who pass on this style may do so because only one side of the door can slide open.
  • Bifold: Bifold doors feature a series of panels all hinged to one another that fold like an accordion. Homeowners who want to promote indoor and outdoor living often select this style because they work well in large openings, are weather tight when closed and only require a small amount of clearance (half the width of a panel).

Door materials

The right materials will create an energy efficient airtight door. They will also help make your patio door the perfect gateway to your outdoor living spaces.

  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass can be made to look like wood, but it’s easier to maintain and can withstand temperature changes.
  • Aluminum: This material is lightweight, strong and performs well in a variety of climates. It can also be made to look like wood.
  • Steel: Steel doors are durable, treated for rust resistance and great in most climates. They require more upkeep in moist air.
  • Wood: Wood is prized for its unique beauty and variety. It will require some maintenance, especially in climates that experience seasons.

Glass considerations

Your patio doors should feature an Energy Star seal, which means they are less prone to heat loss or gain than other doors. The glass used in your patio door is a major part of that.

  • U-factor: U-factor is a rating that refers to the amount of non-solar heat lost or gained while using a product. Select a low U-factor, which means the door is energy efficient.
  • Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC): This is how much heat is lost or gained from the sun as it streams through glass. A low SHGC indicates a smaller heat gain or loss than a high rating.
  • Air leakage: Leakage is the amount of air that moves around the door or glass. High leakage means that air is moving in and out of the house.

Retractable screens

Your new patio door isn’t complete until you have a method keeping the bugs out or controlling the light. Retractable door screens are the perfect accessory to your new patio opening for many reasons.

  • Fitting your door: Your retractable screens can be fitted to any type of door, allowing you freedom to select the right one for your home.
  • Disappears: Disappearing retractable screens stay out of sight when not in use, giving you a perfect view of your yard. They block ultraviolet light while still giving you the indoor/outdoor flow you want.
  • Mesh options: When you install the screens, you get to choose from a variety of mesh styles. Each caters to needs such as privacy and ultraviolent light protection.