What Is A Patio Door?

What Is A Patio Door? featured image

If you’re looking for a way to open up your home and get in some fresh air without spending an excessive amount on extensions and construction, patio doors are your solution.

Patio doors bring the outdoors in by removing the barrier between your indoor and outdoor living spaces. Large glass panes with panoramic views are a great way to bring in natural light and create the perception of spaciousness.

Your options for patio doors are limitless. Do you want french patio doors or aluminium sliding doors? Double-glazed doors, or do you prefer triple glazing? We’ll guide you through your options so you can make a confident and informed decision.

What Is A Patio?

First things first, what is a patio? The word is Spanish in origin and refers to a paved inner courtyard connected to a house. Although there are a few differences between a patio, porch, deck, verandah, and balcony, a patio door is suitable for them all. Their primary function is to allow for ease of movement and access to your outdoor spaces.

Why Do You Need A Patio Door?

Natural Light

Most patio doors are made from floor-to-ceiling glass panes, allowing sunlight into your home. This will enable you to cut costs by reducing the use of artificial lighting. There are also health benefits associated with an increase in natural sunlight. Better sleeping patterns, improved spirits, and better vitamin D absorption result from spending more time in the sun.

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that strengthens your immune system and boosts your mood. During the colder months, exposure to sunlight can contribute to warding off winter illnesses or preventing seasonal depression.

Energy Efficient

An increase in natural sunlight results in a decrease in artificial light and temperature regulation which results in a decrease in energy bills.

While patio doors are perfect for lighting and heating your interior during the winter, they’re equally effective in the summer. Throw those doors open during the sweltering months and allow the fresh air and a cool breeze to cool your house down free of charge.

Increased Property Value

Installing patio doors has one of the highest returns on investment (ROI) ratios of any home upgrade. A combination of beautiful patio doors and an adjoining garden is an attractive feature for a potential buyer. A smooth indoor-to-garden transition could be the very thing that puts you in a higher price bracket.

What To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Patio Door

Thermal And Energy Efficiency

While on the hunt for the perfect set of patio doors, you’ll want to keep thermal and energy efficiency in mind. You’ll want a set of doors that can see you through the summer heat and winter cold while saving you money. Luckily most patio doors accommodate most seasons.

In the summer, you can open your patio doors wide to cool down your house instead of using air conditioning. Some patio doors allow for more ventilation than others, but more on that under patio door styles.

During the winter, you can shut the doors tight without sacrificing the outdoor experience and allow the natural heat from the sun to contribute to heating your home interior. You can also consider installing double-glazed patio doors for increased thermal efficiency. If that’s still not enough, triple glazing is also an option.


New patio doors are an excellent addition to any home, but you’ll want to make the installation without jeopardising your safety. Modern aluminium frames are your most robust choice but also your most expensive one. Some wooden or PVCu doors have aluminium cores that decrease the price without reducing your safety.

The locking mechanism is also an important feature that influences home security. Although a simplistic locking system is cheaper than a multipoint locking system, you don’t want to cut corners with safety.

Sliding doors tend to be less secure than french or bifold doors, but if a sliding door is your aesthetic preference, you can consider using toughened safety glass and security bars.

Patio Door Materials

Patio doors come in a variety of styles and colours, but the choice of material is equally important.


PVCu is the most affordable option for patio doors. Although not as strong as your aluminium and timber frames, PVCu can be reinforced with an aluminium core for a lower price. These doors are also easily maintained in comparison to wooden frames that need to be treated as time passes.


Aluminium doors offer superior thermal performance in comparison to wooden and PVCu doors. Installing external aluminium doors results in better-heated homes during the winter and decreased energy costs. Aluminium doors are versatile when it comes to style. Whether your home is classic, modern, or minimal, aluminium doors will fit right in.

They also offer a wide variety of opening options, such as slide and stack doors, pocket sliding doors, or open corner sliding doors. Tips on maintaining and choosing aluminium doors include looking for additional features such as multiple lock points and strengthened glass to ensure you don’t compromise on safety, quality, or aesthetics.

Aluminium is also the better option when you need a custom size door, as its sizing is more flexible than other materials.


Timber patio doors are even more thermally efficient than aluminium. If you invest in high-quality engineered timber patio doors, you can rest assured that your doors will have longevity with minimal repairs. Softwood-engineered doors are the cheaper alternative but often start to warp when exposed to heat and moisture over long periods of time.

Timber is a warm-to-the-touch material that perfectly complements both the traditional and modern home.


Steel patio doors are perfect for a luxury home. They are the most expensive option on the market but remain desirable due to trending industrial designs, slim profiles, and increased security. Steel doors are three times as strong as aluminium, and burglar bars can easily be welded onto the frame as an additional safety feature.


If neither of these options seems like the perfect fit, you can opt for hybrid doors. Hybrid patio doors consist of an aluminium exterior with either timber, hardwood, or softwood on the interior. This combination offers excellent thermal insulation, low maintenance, and the most extensive variety of colours and wood stains available.

Planning Permission

Installing patio doors generally falls under permitted development (PD), which means the homeowner can go ahead with fitting or replacing their patio doors without applying for planning permission.

However, there are a few exceptions. Houses within certain designated areas, such as conservation areas, may be restricted from making any changes, so make sure to get the go-ahead from your local authority before investing in a pair of new patio doors.

Listed properties or estate homes will also have restrictions that require you to obtain consent before making additional adjustments.


The price of patio doors is influenced by various factors such as style, material and size. If you’re looking to spend less, you should opt for off-the-shelf PVC doors.

If quality and durability are your priority and you have a bigger budget, custom aluminium patio doors might be more appropriate. Adding additional features, such as integrated blinds or a hydraulic door closer, will also increase how much patio doors are.


Depending on the existing style of your home, you may want to install either a more modern or traditional set of patio doors. Both the type and the material the doors are made of can contribute to the overall feel and design.

Types And Styles Of Patio Doors

There are a variety of patio door types available, each with its own benefits. You’ll have to keep in mind your own needs and preferences when choosing between them.

Sliding Patio Doors

If maximising space and an undisturbed view is your priority, sliding doors are your best option. Sliding doors usually feature two large glass panes, with one movable panel sliding over and overlapping the fixed one. Sliding doors move along a horizontal track in the door frame instead of opening in or out.

Sliding doors have become increasingly popular as their horizontal movements allow you to conserve floor space, and their design prevents them from being thrown around by the wind. They also offer flexibility, as you have the option to slide the door open according to your needs. Either fully in an effort to cool down the house or slightly to improve ventilation.

Sliding doors are less secure than other patio doors because of their simplistic locking mechanism. Consider fitting the doors with anti-lifting tracks or a removable bolt to prevent intruders from trespassing.

French Patio Doors

French patio doors are traditionally hinged double-opening doors that swing out from the centre. Modern french doors have been upgraded to increase security and energy efficiency while maintaining their timeless charm. French doors are the perfect addition to a home in need of increased ventilation and improved curb appeal.

French doors offer maximum air circulation as the doors open completely. Although sliding doors take up less space when opened, the fixed panel prevents the same amount of air from passing through.

In contrast to sliding patio doors, french doors require more room to operate, but by installing them to open out onto the patio, you can retain the classical charm while saving indoor space. French doors also have a tendency to be slammed shut during strong winds, but as long as you secure them properly, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Bifold Patio Doors

Bifold doors, also known as folding sliding doors, are the newer patio doors on the market. Reminiscent of an accordion, bifold doors are made up of glass panels which fold back onto each other. They have gained popularity due to being able to replace whole sections of walls, making the transition between inside and out even more seamless.

Although bifold patio doors offer the most fantastic view while open, the view is often obstructed by the many panels when closed. The doors can also prove to be more challenging to open and close, but they are usually fitted with a hinged door for accessible entry and exit that doesn’t require you to manoeuvre the entire folding system.

Bifold doors are a safer alternative to conventional sliding patio doors. Your standard bifold patio doors feature a multi-point locking system and high-security hinges in contrast to sliding doors with a single locking point.


What are the most popular patio doors?

Sliding doors and french doors are the most popular patio doors, but bi-fold doors are rising in popularity and might be more suitable for your home, depending on your needs.

How to replace a sliding patio door with French doors?

If you’re looking to update your home from modern to elegant, consider replacing sliding patio doors with hinged french patio doors. When renovating, you’ll need to consider the extra space requirements to install swinging french doors.

How do I install patio doors?

Patio doors are generally one of the last installations made when building or renovating a house in an attempt to avoid damaging tracks or glazing. Standard patio doors take a few hours to install, but larger or more complicated door systems can take anywhere from a single day to three.

You have the option to DIY the installation or hire a builder or renovator to do it for you, but if you decide to buy from a specialised patio door company, they will usually have their own team install the patio doors for you.


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