Apart from traditional front doors, the most common external doors are those that open into a garden or patio area. These we refer to as patio doors. Whilst in the past the term patio doors generally referred exclusively to sliding doors, nowadays it is used to describe a wide range of external doors including French Doors and Bi Fold Doors. These are available in a wide range of styles and are constructed using a variety of alternative materials.
French doors are made from a frame that surrounds one or more glass panels, and generally come in pairs that open outwards. A pair of French doors is generally referred to as a French Window. There is no central mullion, so that when the doors are open there is a completely unobstructed opening. The maximum size of the opening is limited by the maximum available leaf size. They also need sufficient external clearance in order to open. While French doors look stylish, the multiple frames reduce the amount of light they allow in as well as restricting the view of the garden. You can choose single panel doors, though this tends to detract from their main attraction: their traditional multi-panel appearance.
Sliding patio doors, also called sliding glass doors, consist of a large opening to an external space such as a garden or patio that is closed by at least two panel sections designed so that one of the panel slides behind the other. One panel may slide over a fixed panel, or both panels might be able to slide. Some designs incorporate multiple panels.
The main advantage over French doors is that more light is let in, though the disadvantage is that the opening is restricted. In certain cases this can be avoided by the use of pocket doors in which the panels slide into wall pockets providing an expansive open area.
Bi fold doors, which are also called folding sliding doors, provide the largest possible open area. As the name suggests, they slide open and their panels fold up against each other so that they are stacked in concertina fashion.
Sometimes they include a traffic door, in other words a single panel that opens as a single door for ready access without the need to open and fold the other doors. Offering the best of open views, they are also secure and weather proof; a perfect solution for modern looking homes that benefit from bringing the outside in.
External doors are available in uPVC, aluminium and timber. The budget choice tends to be uPVC, but even though this is the cheapest solution it is tough, hard wearing and great looking, particularly as many different colours and textures are available. uPVC doors require minimum maintenance.
Timber external doors add a touch of elegance and provide the best thermal performance. However, timber does require more maintenance than uPVC.
The main advantage of aluminium is that it is light and strong. This means that the doors can be thinner with smaller frames and more glass, maximizing the light and external view. Aluminium external doors also add a touch of contemporary style to your home.