Patio Doors: A Closer Look at Today’s Excellent Options

Patio Doors: A Closer Look at Today’s Excellent Options
  • Opening Intro -

    You open them, you close them--patio doors are parts of your home that you use so often, it’s likely you’ve stopped noticing them.

    When they start breaking down, however, you’ll realize all of a sudden just how big a role your patio doors play.


They contribute to your home’s functionality and comfort as well as its curb appeal and energy efficiency.

Start by checking your existing patio doors for telltale signs of damage. Patio doors are constantly exposed to the elements, so it’s inevitable that they’ll develop wear and tear over time. An inspection will help you determine whether you can get by with repairs or a full replacement is needed. Here are some of the indications to watch out for:

about patio doors


  1. Obvious signs of damage, including holes, gaps and cracks.
  2. Mold, warping or rot, usually found on wood patio doors.
  3. Difficulties opening, closing or locking the door.
  4. Jamming or sticking, which can be a sign of problems with the adjustment or could point to  thermal expansion.
  5. Damaged hardware, including broken handles, cranks, knobs or locks. These can compromise home security.
  6. Fading or peeling colors.
  7. Broken glass, which is a safety risk.

These are just some of the warning signs to watch out for on the door itself. A failing patio  can also negatively affect your home’s comfort and energy efficiency. Gaps and cracks in the door, for instance, allow for cold drafts and air leakage. Because the door isn’t properly sealed, significant energy loss is a definite possibility. For this reason, it pays to invest in a better, more permanent solution–patio door replacement.

This home upgrade will resolve all the issues you may currently have with your patio door. Plus, a new door unit will be sturdier and lovelier, and will improve your home’s comfort and energy efficiency. Just make sure to choose the door style that best suits your needs. Today’s market has whittled the choices down to these three exceptional options:

Hinged French Doors

Originating in 17th-Century France, hinged French doors are characterized by glass panels along the entire length of the door. Hinged French doors look somewhat like windows–and in fact they did start out as windows that opened onto a small balcony. Wood and wrought iron are the primary materials used to construct hinged French doors. Technological advancements in door manufacturing over the years has subsequently paved the way for the development of options done in steel, fiberglass or composite materials.

Hinged French doors remain a favorite patio door option for many homeowners across the country–and with good reason. They offer a number of benefits that make them a worthy investment. These include:

patio doors

Eliminate that cramped feel in your home by investing in a hinged French patio door.

  • Considerable access to natural light

    This patio door style values symmetry and proportion, with heavy emphasis on light. The distinctive glass panes on a French patio door allow a significant amount of natural light to enter your living space, giving your home a brighter and more spacious feel. At the same time, you can maximize available daylight in your home, reducing your need for artificial lighting and thus your energy consumption.

  • Extended view of the outdoors

    While the glass area of hinged French doors is divided, it is large enough to provide a panoramic view of your outdoor living space.

    Do you have a large back garden you’re proud to show off? A pair of hinged French doors can frame that view perfectly, serving as landscape art in real-time.

  • Seamless indoor-outdoor connection

    Hinged French doors usually come in pairs. When you open them, they create a wide opening that results in a stronger connection between your home’s interior and your outdoor living space.

    This further opens up your home, allowing for smoother traffic. Because of the smoother flow of movement, entertaining guests is more convenient and comfortable.

  • Classic looks

    The simple yet elegant design of hinged French doors makes them an instant focal point in your home. A staple in traditional homes, French doors can be customized to suit a specific home style and exterior or interior color palette.

Sliding Contemporary Doors

Sleek and modern, sliding contemporary doors are the exact opposite of French doors when it comes to style. Instead of swinging out onto your patio via hinges, they glide smoothly open along a track. Sliding contemporary doors are typically built with thin frames with a large, undivided glass area. Aside from these aesthetic and operational differences, sliding  doors offer many of the same benefits as their hinged counterparts, such as:

  • Opening up your home

    The expansive glass and wide opening helps blur the line between your interior and your patio. This allows you to bring the beauty of the outdoors into your home.

  • Lighting up your rooms effectively

    This same glass area provides full, undivided access to natural light, leading to a more vibrant and cheerful vibe in your living space, while also helping you cut back on artificial lighting.

  • Expanded outdoor views

    With a sliding contemporary patio door, looking out onto your well-designed patio will always be an enjoyable experience. It’s just like having a picture window to frame a stunning view–the only difference is that you can actually open it and step outside.

large patio door

When it comes to smooth design and effortless operation, you can’t go wrong with a sliding contemporary patio door.

Sliding contemporary doors do offer a few extras, however. Here’s what further sets them apart:

  • Space-saving advantage

    If space is at a premium in your home, choose a sliding contemporary door. Because they slide open rather than swinging on a hinge, they won’t get in the way of furniture or foot traffic when in use. Because of this feature, you won’t have to worry as much about door orientation, furniture placement and room layout.

  • Sleek design

    The slim frames and expansive glass of these doors make them a perfect match for modern-style homes, which value elegance in a clean, simplistic design.

  • Worry-free operation

    Because they glide smoothly along their tracks, sliding contemporary doors take little effort to operate. They are also  lighter-weight, which reduces the potential for jamming or misalignment.

Sliding French Doors

Both hinged French and sliding contemporary doors provide exceptional benefits, but sliding French doors offer the best of both worlds. Put it this way–if the former two are great movies, then the latter is the ultimate director’s cut. Sliding French doors combine classic good looks with ease of operation. They provide a panoramic view of your outdoor space while letting in plenty of natural light into your home. When you open them, these doors don’t interrupt flow of movement because they slide neatly to the side. As with the first two choices, they are fully customizable so matching them with your home’s exterior design elements is a breeze.

What do these three patio door styles have in common?

Aside from maximizing light and space, these doors can be opened fully, which means you’ll have better access to fresher, healthier air. This improves indoor air quality, while helping cool your home naturally. This, in turn, helps lower your cooling bills, which is especially favorable during warmer months.

patio doors


Sliding French patio doors combine the best features of hinged French and sliding doors.

Before you choose your new patio door…

Make sure to cover all your bases. Consider your home’s available space. If you want to maximize it, choose sliding contemporary or sliding French doors. Their space-saving benefits make them an attractive home addition. Take into account your home’s architectural style, as well. For traditional Colonial, Tudor, or Craftsman homes, hinged or sliding French doors are the perfect choice. If you own a modern-style home, sliding contemporary doors will complement your architecture beautifully.

Be careful about your choice of patio door installer. To make the most of your replacement project, hire an experienced, reliable contractor. Confirm the necessary credentials, including license, insurance and certification. Patio door replacement is a complex project that requires expertise and uncompromising attention to detail. Keep all these essentials in mind to ensure your new patio door will provide the superior and long-lasting performance you expect.

Author Bio:
Linda Johnston is General Manager of Renewal by Andersen of Central PA, a premier home improvement company providing quality window and door replacement services. She started as a telemarketer in 1989 and worked her way up to her current position. Linda has expressed:  “I love being a part of this great team. We respect each other and work together towards a common goal!” Catch more of Linda in the company blog.

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