When it comes to choosing a sliding or patio door, unobstructed out-door views and lots of light are at the top of the list for homeowners.

“Multipanel and taller doors that maximize views go along with bigger homes to create a monumental feel by flooding rooms with light,” says Jeff Kibler, brand manager for Peachtree Windows and Doors.

The trend in patio doors is toward expanded views and access to the outdoors.
courtesy Therma-Tru The trend in patio doors is toward expanded views and access to the outdoors.

Many manufacturers predict that 9- and 10-foot-tall doors will become standard, while remodelers simply expect to see more glass at all heights.

“I've been using more and more patio doors these days. You get more light for your dollar — they're the cost-effective way to make the most of your views,” says Scott Grote of Grote Construction, a building and remodeling firm in Mohnton, Pa.

According to Jeff Lowinski, vice president of technology and marketing of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), the design of the home and the room is the biggest influence as to what style of door you install.

“The disadvantage to sliding is that you never can completely slide all of it out of the way, but swinging doors take up much more space when they're open,” Lowinski says. “Those factors dictate your choice.”

Typically in a remodel, a swinging door won't replace a sliding one because it would encroach on the existing space. Homeowners who want to replace a standard white sliding door have numerous options at their fingertips. Wood-grain interiors and hardware options allow you to create personalized looks, says Bill Lazor, senior brand manager for Simonton vinyl windows and doors.

Sliding and patio doors are available at every price point, generally starting with lower-priced steel models and moving up in cost to wood and fiberglass models. But vinyl products are popular across the board, because they're cost-effective and meet basic codes. What's more, many vinyl doors feature one-piece construction and come factory assembled. However, aluminum and fiberglass work well in specific applications. Aluminum accounted for nearly a quarter of the sliding and patio door market in 2000 and now holds ground in coastal areas where DP-50 ratings rule because it's very strong and durable, the experts claim. Fiberglass, though not widely used, is gaining popularity in high-end homes where the owners want the look of wood without the maintenance issues.

Experts predict that performance-enhanced products will drive the market. From improved welding techniques on vinyl for stronger frames to laminated glass offerings for sound control to the growth of alternative materials for low maintenance, manufacturers will offer high-performing products at every grade. —Stephanie Herzfeld is associate editor of REMODELING 's sister publication BUILDING PRODUCTS . This article originally appeared in that magazine.

For more product information, visit ebuild, Hanley Wood's interactive product catalog, at remodelingmagazine.com or www.ebuild.com.