From patios to closets, pantries to bathrooms, sliding doors have a wide range of uses in and around the home. Available in just about every material imaginable, from glass and wood to thin paper screens, sliding doors offer a practical solution when space is a factor in entrance ways.
So what should you look out for when choosing a sliding door? Here are some helpful tips for getting started and making the right choice for your needs.
Match the door type to purpose
There are a number of different types of sliding door available, but not all are suitable for every purpose. Bypass doors, for example, are affordable and easy to install, but as they often only run on a single track, they are not secure and are only really suitable for things like wardrobes and interior partitions.
If you want a sliding door on the exterior of your home, for example to open onto a patio, you will need something sturdier. Often known as Arcadia doors after a prominent early manufacturer, the standard patio door operates on top and bottom tracks, all housed in a fully enclosed unit. As glass is the standard material for such doors, the frame has to be strong enough to hold the weight.
Factor in available space
One of the key benefits of sliding doors is that they save space compared to swing doors, as their opening is not obstructed by fixtures and fittings. But the size of the cavity into which you want to install the doors is a key determining factor in the type and design you choose. In an ideal world, everyone would choose the largest space available, especially for patio doors when you want to let in as much light as possible.
If you do have the available space, four panel French sliding doors, with two panels sliding open from the middle, are a highly sought after solution. But even you lack the space for a convention two panel patio door, don’t give up on the sliding option. Pocket doors, where the open door is housed in the wall cavity, are a great option for squeezing in single panel sliding doors.
Choose frame material carefully
Common frame materials for sliding doors include vinyl, fibreglass, aluminium, stainless steel and wood. For use outdoors, aluminium or stainless steel frames are the most durable and weather resistant, but fibreglass is generally the most energy efficient. Vinyl is popular because it is cost effective, but it takes up a lot more space than metal frames. Make your decision as a best fit between cost, location, space and how much maintenance you want to be doing.
Pick the right glass
Even though one of the key reasons for wanting glass sliding patio doors is to increase the amount of light coming into your home, you should bear in mind that too much sunlight is not always a good thing. Especially if an external door gets lots of direct sunlight, you could be at risk of damaging internal furnishings through UV fading, or even over heating a room. Low-E glass is specially treated to reduce the amount of damaging UV radiation which comes in, although the amount of actual light is not reduced. And as Low-E glass also blocks infrared heat emissions, it helps improve thermal efficiency in cold weather.