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What is the Best Choice for External Doors?

The best choice for external doors

What is the Best Choice for External Doors?

After traditional-style front doors, patio doors are perhaps the most common type of external doors found in modern houses. Not all patio doors are the same, though. With a choice of different styles and various materials, how do you choose the best option?


French Doors

French windows are a classic with a long history in British architecture. Their big plus is that they look stylish, but set against that, they require a lot of clearance space to open, whether inwards or outwards. In addition, they tend to have multiple smaller panels, so the frame will be blocking an unnecessary amount of both the light and the view into your garden.

French windows are available as single panels for each unit, but that reduces their major attraction — giving your home the classic country-house look.


Sliding Patio Doors

Sliding doors have two advantages over French windows. They don't need any clearance to open, and they can be fitted in large units that block very little. On the downside, because one panel has to slide behind the other, only half the space can be open at any given time.

If there's room for three panels, though, it's possible to have a triple-track system instead of the usual double-track. This enables two of the panels to slide behind the remaining one and allows two thirds of the space to be open.


Bifold Doors

Bifold doors, sometimes known as folding sliding doors, offer the only system that allows you to have virtually the whole doorway open with the doors out of the way when not in use. This is because the panels fold back on themselves, so they stack right up against the doorframe.

Bifold doors offer the ideal system, allowing the outside in when open, but remaining secure against weather and intruders when they're closed. They also cater for level thresholds when used as an internal door, allowing amtico flooring for instance to be used either side of the doorway without having a trip hazard.


Which Is the Best Material?

The three main materials used for patio doors are aluminium, timber and uPVC, and each has its advantages.

  • Aluminium, besides giving a light, contemporary look, is tough enough that the sightlines can be ultra-narrow without compromising strength. It's perhaps the best material for both bifold and sliding doors.
  • Timber gives an elegant, classical appearance for both bifold doors and French windows, but it's also the best option for insulation if the patio doors have to cope with severe weather in winter.
  • The main advantage of uPVC is its low cost, but it's more than just a cheap option. It's a hard-wearing material, and can be finished to look almost indistinguishable from timber.

In the end, the choice of both style and material will depend largely on your house and budget, but there are plenty of options.

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