8 Types of Patio Doors

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Your patio door is more than just a way to get outside. It provides security, plays a role in the home’s aesthetic, and is the gateway to the great outdoors. When choosing which door to install, you should know all of your options. We’ve put together a list of the types of patio doors based on the opening formats and the material options.

The three patio door opening formats include:

  • Hinged (French)
  • Sliding
  • Bifold

Then, the five material types to consider are:

  • Vinyl
  • Fiberglass
  • Wood
  • Aluminum
  • Steel

Each of these formats and material types has positive and negative aspects. We’ve done the research and can help you pick out a patio door that’s perfect for your home. Continue reading for more details on each one, as well as more information on how to choose a patio door.

A large modern contemporary mansion with a gray steel framed glass French door, 8 Types of Patio Doors

Patio Door Opening Formats

Patio doors are often made with large glass windows. This allows you to see out into the patio area even when the door is closed. It is also a great way to let natural light into the home. Oftentimes, these doors are also double the width of a typical exterior door.  The glass in these doors can be treated for energy efficiency, and most doors come standard with double-paned glass. 

1. Hinged (French)

French doors are a popular option for patio doors because of their sturdiness and security. They open on a hinge like a typical door. Usually, French doors are sold in a set of two or three panels, but only one of them opens. The other is essentially a door-length window.

You can, however, find hinged patio doors in which both doors open, like the ones below. You’ll also notice in this picture that there is an additional panel on either side of the opening doors. French doors can contain as many panels as you’d like.

A huge white framed bi-fold door

French doors are sold standard anywhere from 30 to 72 inches per door, with sizes available at two-inch increments. You can, however, have custom hinged patio doors made for an additional cost. Exterior French patio doors can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, plus installation fees, depending upon the quality of the door. Custom-sized doors can cost up to $10,000 if your entry is a unique size.

Many of these doors come with faux or real window panes for a decorative look, like the one pictured below.

A blue French door leading to the patio

The border of French doors is almost always made out of wood, aluminum, or vinyl. They can come in a variety of colors depending on your preferences. One benefit to hinged or French doors is that they come with a deadbolt as well as a knob lock, giving you twice the protection. They are durable since they use a simple hinge system and don’t have many moving parts.

Professional installation is recommended. If it is not done correctly the doors could be insecure, lack the appropriate weather seal, and be less durable. If you are an experienced DIYer, this is a project that you could take on to save some money.

Want to keep your French doors from blowing in the wind? Read this article for some simple solutions.

2. Sliding

Sliding patio doors are a fantastic option if you need to conserve space, either indoors or outdoors. Because they do not swing open, they do not need as much clearance as hinged doors. Thus, you can put furniture or other items closer to the door without worrying about them being hit by the swinging motion.

Standard sliding doors come from 60 to 72 inches wide, but can be made smaller or wider depending on your needs. You can also find dual sliding doors, which have two different sliding mechanisms. You can expect these doors to cost somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000, plus installation costs.

Unlike hinged or French doors, sliding doors are more difficult to make secure because of the simplicity of the locking mechanism. There are ways to secure a sliding door, like putting a bar inside the sliding track so that the door cannot be opened or putting a removable bolt through the base of the door. 

Click here to see this sliding door lock bar on Amazon.

Sliding doors are less durable than other types of doors. If the door gets damaged or knocked off-kilter, it will not glide as easily. Additionally, the sliding mechanism must be well-oiled and maintained. Frequently, sliding screen doors will accompany sliding doors. Screen doors are a great way to keep bugs out while letting the breeze in.

Like with French doors, precise installation is important and should only be attempted by a confident DIYer or a professional. You can also leave a sliding door open as wide as you want without the wind blowing it open or closed, like in the picture below.

A sliding glass door of a farmhouse near a patio

3. Bifold

Bifold patio doors fold up like an accordion against themselves. They are great for areas that don’t have much space because they do not require much room to open. They provide a modern look if that is what you’re going for in your home. Oftentimes, bifold doors also include a hinged door so that you don’t have to open the whole folding system for quick entry and exit.

These doors have a dual-locking feature, providing plenty of security. They work well for extra-wide openings and create panoramic views of the patio and surrounding area. Most bifold doors are made out of aluminum, fiberglass, or vinyl.

A standard set of three bifold doors range from 70 to 96 inches wide. Without installation, a standard set of three bifold doors range from $1,900 to $3,600. Bifold doors glide open on a track, like a sliding door, and have lots of moving parts that make durability and maintenance difficult. They are also difficult to install and should only be done by a professional. 

Patio Door Materials

The bordering, non-glass portion of patio doors can be made out of several different materials depending on your budget, home decor, and personal preferences. 

1. Vinyl

Patio doors made out of vinyl are an excellent combination of durable and affordable. Vinyl is often used to make exterior siding for homes because of its durability.

Vinyl will not warp or fade quickly. It is made fairly cheaply but is one of the most energy-efficient materials you can find. Vinyl keeps out cold wind and extreme heat. It can also come in a variety of colors to fit your needs. 

Unlike other types of doors, vinyl is not easy to dent and does not rust, peel, or corrode. It can be shaped to look like wood or metal, allowing you to choose the style you’d like.

2. Fiberglass

Fiberglass patio doors are very similar to vinyl, except that they are more durable and expensive. Vinyl is flexible which can give the impression of cheaply made material. Fiberglass, on the other hand, is solid yet lightweight. 

You can find fiberglass in any color and in whatever style you’d like. It can be made to look like a wood finish or be left smooth.

3. Wood

Wood patio doors are less durable than other materials but are still a popular choice for those who want a classic, sturdy look. They are the most soundproof of any door material and can be painted to be any color to match your home. Traditionally, wood is only found on French doors and not sliding or bifold doors.

A popular option nowadays is to cover the exterior side of a wood door with vinyl or aluminum to protect it from the elements. This lets you have a wood door on the inside with a weather-proof outer layer.

Unfortunately, wood doors are the most expensive of the group. You will also need to treat them frequently, and potentially replace them every fifteen to twenty years if they aren’t protected from the weather. Wood patio doors warp from the weather and moisture outdoors and can rot if left unfinished.

Check out this sun shield wood wax on Amazon.

4. Aluminum Or Steel

Metal such as aluminum or steel is another popular choice for exterior patio doors. Both of these materials are designed to be able to withstand inclement and changing weather without warping, chipping, or peeling. Steel can be incredibly energy-efficient and is cheaper to install than wood. 

Aluminum and steel doors are treated with an anti-rust agent so that they do not rust or get damaged. However, this protection can be nullified if the door gets scratched or the treatment fades. Metal doors are also susceptible to denting, which is very difficult to repair.  

Aluminum is cheaper in upfront costs than steel but is significantly less energy-efficient and damages more easily. It can get very hot or very cold depending on the outdoor temperature. This then allows the interior of the home to take on the temperature of the door. 

In Closing

Depending on what you’re looking for in a patio door, you should consider French or hinged, sliding, or bifold doors. You can find these doors made in a variety of materials such as vinyl, fiberglass, wood, or metal. Consult a professional contractor for installation unless you are confident you can do it yourself. No matter which door you choose, you’re sure to love your gateway to the great outdoors!

For ideas on how to decorate your patio on a budget, check out How To Decorate Your Patio On A Budget.

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