How to Choose a Door to Your Deck or Patio

Optimize the look and function of your home with the right door to your outdoor living space.

By Jan Soults Walker

Welcome the outdoors, sunlight, and breezes into your home with the ideal door to your deck or patio. You'll love having easy access to your outdoor living space. Before you buy, check out these available options to help you make a smart choice.

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Susan Fredman

A wide array

Sliding doors are probably the most common option with standard sizes promising affordability and a wide expanse of glass for more light and optimum views. Most sliding doors feature a fixed pane on one side with a second pane that slides on a track and bypasses the stationary portion. Some doors allow both panes to slide. Either way, the track system of a sliding door suits tight areas because no floor space is needed for the door to open.

Some versions of sliding doors are designed to disappear into a pocket within sidewalls, completely eliminating any division between your patio or deck and indoor living space. Other sliding door designs feature four side-by-side panes. The two that meet in the middle slide open in opposite directions, each bypassing the fixed flanking panes.

Swinging doors operate on hinges and can open inward or outward, but either choice demands an available arc of floor space to swing freely. That means you'll need to make sure that furnishings or other features won't impede the door's operation. Some models feature one fixed and one operable door while other versions allow both doors to swing open.

Folding doors operate like an accordion; hinged panels fold back and forth against one another to hug one or both sides of the frame opening, allowing a seamless expanse between indoors and out.

Other considerations

Materials for patio door frames vary and include wood as well as weather-resistant vinyl, steel, or fiberglass. Combinations of materials are also available, such as a long-lasting vinyl exterior with the warmth of wood facing inside.

Glass for patio doors varies too, but select double- or triple-pane construction for energy efficiency. Another option is low-e glass, which features a thin coating that reduces heat loss during winter and helps keep your home cool during summer. You can also select patio doors with blinds sandwiched between glass panes so the blinds never need dusting.

For more home design ideas and advice, check out:

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