Everything You Need To Know About the Different Types of Patio Doors

July 19th, 2022, 12:00 AM

Patio doors can improve your home's aesthetics by letting large amounts of natural light in and allowing you to enjoy views of the outdoors.

You can open patio doors up when it's warm out for airflow and keep them closed when it's cold or during inclement weather to keep your home nice and cozy — without blocking out natural light or inhibiting views of your yard and garden!

Choosing the right type of patio doors helps make your home's transition between the indoors and outdoors as seamless as possible, and can improve your home's curb appeal and property value.

The Different Types of Patio Doors Explained

There are three main types of patio doors that you can consider when looking for new or replacement patio doors:

  1. Sliding patio doors (including multi-slide doors)
  2. French patio doors (AKA hinged patio doors)
  3. Bi-fold patio doors (stacking glass doors)

Sliding patio doors

A sliding patio door is probably the type of patio door you're most familiar with. Sliding patio doors are quite functional, practical, and affordable.

The most common model of sliding patio door consists of two large, almost ceiling-to-floor, panes of glass, with one that slides open over the top of the other.

There are also triple-pane sliding patio doors that provide more sweeping views of the outdoors and connect your indoor spaces with your outdoor spaces even more. These may slide open in one direction (uni-directional sliding doors) or in both directions (bi-parting sliding doors).

French patio doors

French patio doors consist of two panes of glass that are hinged at the sides and swing open and closed. They are also known as hinged patio doors.

Stylistically, French patio doors typically feature grilles in the panes of glass, which give them that distinct European architectural look.

French patio doors are also sometimes flanked by panes of glass on either side that doesn't open. These allow more natural light in, increase visibility, and improve aesthetics.

Bi-fold patio doors

Bi-fold patio doors, or just folding patio doors, are a type of patio door that consists of several panes of glass, which open up by folding on top of one another — picture an accordion.

Folding patio doors are often preferred when you want to be able to open up almost a whole wall of a room in your home to the outdoors. 

Since the panes of glass in a bi-fold patio door fold up to one or both sides when you open them, they are very hidden and out of the way. This creates a particularly nice indoor-outdoor feel for the room.

Sliding Patio Doors Vs French Patio Doors

Many people find themselves trying to choose between the traditional sliding patio doors and more elegant French-hinged patio doors. If this is you, there are some considerations to keep in mind to help make your decision easier.

Firstly, you should take a look at the space in front of where you want the new patio doors and consider how much room it is for French doors to swing open and closed (keep in mind that they can swing either inwards or outwards). 

Hinged doors may bump into objects or get in the way of people moving around them if there is not enough floor space for them. Hinged French doors are also prone to blowing shut when there are gusts of wind. On the other hand, sliding glass doors never get in the way or blow closed.

A unique benefit of sliding glass patio doors to consider is that you can attach a screen to the outside. This may allow you to keep them open more often for ventilation, while preventing bugs from coming in.

One reason to consider installing French hinged doors is that they provide more visual appeal than sliding doors. You can select from a variety of different grille styles to add architectural interest to the exterior of your home and European elegance to the interior.

A downside of the style of French doors is that they don't feel as open as sliding doors. Your views will be somewhat covered by the grilles and additional framing of French doors.

Summary of sliding glass doors vs French doors:

  • Sliding doors require less floor space to open/close and don't get in the way
  • Sliding doors provide more visibility and ventilation
  • French doors need floor space to open/close and can get in the way of movement
  • Hinged doors can blow shut from the wind
  • Sliding patio doors allow you to attach screens to the outside
  • French doors offer more design options for improved aesthetics

What's the Best Patio Door for Natural Light and Visibility?

The signature multi-slide door from Marvin patio doors

When you really want to unify your indoor and outdoor spaces, we recommend modern multi-slide patio doors by Marvin.

Marvin multi-slide doors feature wide glass panels and sleek, minimalistic rails and framing, so your views remain as uninhibited as possible.

These multi-slide doors are available in uni-directional and bi-parting stacked and pocket configurations, and can be custom-made to fit any size of patio door opening you have in mind.

Marvin patio doors are perfect for bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and anywhere else where you want patio doors with multiple panels that allow you to open up a whole wall to the outdoors.

Wrapping Up

Selecting patio doors for new construction or replacing old patio doors is an important decision. Depending on what doors you choose, it can really change the feel and functionality of the room. Ultimately, whether you choose sliding glass doors, hinged French doors, or accordion-style bi-fold doors is a matter of personal preference, but make sure to consider the potential benefits and drawbacks of each style.  You should also keep in mind the architectural style of your home. For example, some homeowners feel that sliding glass doors don't complement the style of older homes, so they may opt for French doors instead. On the other hand, homes built in more modern architectural styles may benefit the most from more contemporary patio doors, such as bi-fold or multi-slide doors that open up very widely. Whatever you decide, Hodges Windows and Doors has a wide selection of patio doors for you to choose from. Contact us today for a consultation or to book an appointment in our showroom.


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