Many door manufacturers, in response to the trend of blending indoor and outdoor living spaces, are introducing long-span and “corner-meet” patio doors. “These doors enable you to open up walls up to 16 feet long and 10 feet tall,” says Dave Olmstead, senior public affairs and code compliance specialist for PGT Industries. “It can turn your dining room into one big area outdoors.”
PGT's SGD780 WinGuard and French-style SGD680 corner-meet doors, and Jeld-Wen's 90-degree door feature two perpendicular walls of glass panels without the obstruction of a center support post. However, unlike PGT's aluminum sliding models, Jeld-Wen's offering is part of its Exterior Folding Door System, available in fiberglass or custom wood. The panels fold back accordion-style to open the space. “We really wanted the effect to be dramatic,” says product marketing manager Shane Meisel, adding that these doors' price tags also can increase dramatically. “Because of necessary construction variances, we're seeing these more in custom and high-end homes.”
Lance Premeau agrees. “Depending on the number of panels, the price could be as much as $800 to $1,500 per linear foot,” says the product manager for Kolbe & Kolbe. The company recently introduced its Lift & Slide long-span sliding patio door, as well as a single-wall folding door system.
Meisel, Olmstead, and Premeau all stress that doors in this category are often better suited to new construction or additions than to retrofits. Without stud walls to add support, many structural elements will need updating to ensure safe installations. “If an architect, engineer, or builder has a working knowledge of how to strengthen load-bearing walls, there's an avenue for remodeling as well,” Premeau says. “It's important to remember that in some models, the panels ride on the sill and all the weight is held there.”