Outdoor living remains one of the hottest trends in the residential sector, and remodels are no exception. According to a 2017 Houzz study, 37% of homeowners who are renovating their outdoor space are planning a complete overhaul, and 48% are planning a major renovation. One in 10 renovating homeowners is investing in outdoor kitchen equipment and 32% are incorporating a fire pit. And in AIA’s latest Home Design Trends surveys, outdoor kitchens were growing in popularity and outdoor living continued to dominate as the most popular specialty room.

Indeed, for homes of all sizes, a well-appointed exterior with dedicated seating and cooking space has become its own room, an extension of the square footage ideal for entertaining and relaxing.

Just as important to the trend is a desire to blur the lines between indoors and out, a feat achieved through the use of large expanses of operable glass and multi-panel patio doors that slide or accordion open to reveal uninterrupted views and access. Today’s options range from 10 feet up to as much as 32 feet wide and can combine fixed and movable windows and doors to meet the design’s needs.

For remodels especially, enhancing and connecting to an outdoor space can expand the home’s visual footprint without moving any walls. If a home isn’t being completely gutted and the overall floor plan is staying in tact, an opening glass wall also can be an effective way to add more openness and increase sightlines. In the same scenario, it also can bring in much needed daylight and ventilation.

As the market for multi-unit patio doors has expanded, so have the options, which is making it even easier for remodelers to find a standard unit, in size, style, and color to fit each project’s needs. And it’s a trend that’s no longer reserved for high-end custom homes. Thanks to the proliferation of materials and the option for slightly smaller sizes, multi-panel doors and windows are now available in a range of price points, keeping them within reach even for smaller budgets. For example, JELD-WEN just introduced its first vinyl multi-panel unit, available with up to six panels and 24 feet wide.

Incorporating expanses of glass does require some adjustment, however, as it’s not as simple as a traditional window replacement. Contractors will have to essentially rebuild the wall, including potentially adding additional beams and supports, to accommodate both the enlarged opening as well as the unit’s weight and load.

Remodelers may want to partner with an architect and an engineer on these projects; a designer can help maximize the beauty of the window system as it relates to the rest of the room to ensure flow and experience. An engineer can determine how walls will need to be reframed to accommodate the new, larger glass units.

“Though incorporating a multi-unit patio door or other opening glass wall can take a little more planning than a traditional window or door, the result is all the more spectacular,” notes Sean G. Smith, director of product marketing for JELD-WEN. “Whether they’re undergoing an extensive outdoor remodel or a simple kitchen rehab, a wall of glass is an essential element in the physical and visual connection of the indoor and outdoor spaces.”

Learn More