Creating an inviting backyard sanctuary for family gatherings and social get-togethers can upgrade the value of your home. Do you want to create a sense of openness from your kitchen directly to your patio? Consider updating your exterior while increasing the value of your home with a patio door replacement. Unsure what that looks like? Read on to learn about how to make the best door replacement decision for you, your home, and your financial goals. 

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Types of Patio Doors

Patio doors are the divide between your home and the outdoors. They are an important part of the atmosphere of your home and play a large role in an exterior remodel. Here is what to know about the types of doors to consider as you begin your patio door replacement process.

1. Sliding patio doors

One of the most common patio door replacement moves is to upgrade to a sliding patio door. Many homeowners like this traditional option because of its versatility, affordability, and ease of use. The added glass invites tons of light into your home while a sliding door frame maximizes the available space. 

A sliding screen door can also be included so that you can let in that summertime breeze without bugs or other unwanted pests.  

2. French patio doors

A high-end option to explore are swinging french doors, which are hinged like regular patio doors. These are available in various styles, colors, finishes, and glass options. Normally, French doorways come in a pair but you can get more unique with three-panel door configurations. 

There are, however, a couple of downsides with French doors to weigh. As hinged door frames do not seal 100 percent and have a lower energy rating, some homeowners provide more energy-efficient sliding doors when it comes to patio door replacement. Also, French doorways take up a large amount of space to function properly, whether they swing in or out. If you have a tight patio or kitchen this might not be the best option for you.    

3. Folding patio doors

Folding doorways are a statement piece that adds personality to any outdoor patio. Typically meant for patios with a wide amount of available space, these doorframes close in an appealing accordion-like way. This option uses between two to eight panels in all glass, which close straight on a track. Folding patio doors tend to add a wide-open, modern feel. While this design is the most striking, it also has poor energy ratings as it is hinged and will not seal completely.   

Choosing Your Patio Door Replacement Glass

Patio doors are made up of mostly glass, so choosing the right glass for your patio door replacement is important. 

Evaluate your needs

Here are six questions to ask yourself when it comes to choosing the right glass:

  • Do you want clear glass to flood the space in light or frosted for increased privacy? 
  • Do you want little patterned window panes in symmetrical or asymmetrical designs on a large pane of glass? 
  • What is the energy efficiency rating of the door going to be? 
  • Is your region prone to extreme weather temperatures? 
  • Do you want your door to let in less light, transmit or reflect more light onto another area? 
  • Do you live in a coastal region that requires glass to withstand high pressure?  

Verify your glass quality

How can you make sure you’re buying quality glass? There are two major authorities on glass that can provide third party evaluation:

  • ENERGY STAR®: The most understood and common rating system to ensure you are buying quality glass is ENERGY STAR. These products are marked with a large, branded sticker. This program qualifies glass products based on their U-factor and solar heat gain energy coefficient rating. The U-factor represents how much non-solar heat flow the glass allows, the lower the number the better.     
  • National Fenestration Rating Council: Glass manufacturers can ensure their glass is quality by voluntarily choosing to have it tested and certified with a label if passed to National Fenestration Rating Council performance levels.  

Glass calculations

When you are shopping for glass, you’ll want to consider several calculations related to thermodynamics that help determine the quality of the glass. 

  • U-Factor: This number shows how much non-solar heat flow the glass allows. It is what ENERGY STAR rates.
  • Visible Transmittance (VT): This is a fraction of visible light transmitted through glass, which is ranked on a scale from one to 10, depending on human eye sensitivity. On the scale, 10 represents the greatest light transmittance. 
  • Light to solar gain: Light to solar gain or LSG is a ratio that relates the relative efficiency of the glass, but is not always provided. 

Choosing Your Materials

Choosing a patio door replacement doesn’t have to mean keeping the same style or materials as before — you can feel free to mix your aesthetic up. Remember that the patio door can be one of the highest traffic areas in the house, so you might want to consider durability to make sure you are getting the most value out of your renovation. There are several materials that may fit your needs. 

1. Vinyl

Vinyl is a traditional material and used because it is energy-efficient, dependable and low maintenance. Many people see it as a meeting of function, affordability, and style. This is the most versatile option as you can also have it finished to match your interior. 

2. Aluminum

Aluminum or steel are the most durable materials for patio door replacement, but also not as energy efficient as other materials. Most times aluminum is treated for rust or corrosion. Depending on the aesthetics of your home an aluminum door might be harder to match or customize.

3. Wood 

When it comes to wood, the frames that are typically most highly desired are real wood. However, this is also the most expensive option and takes the most maintenance over time. You do have options as far as what woods you use. You can choose different materials such as mahogany, alder, pine, and fir although all kinds may be susceptible to warp and rot if not properly maintained.   

Patio Door Hardware and Paint

Once you have an idea of style, structure, glass details you can now nail down color, texture, hardware and lock mechanism. All of these elements will help your patio door replacement take on a more customized look and feel. 

Though you will find numerous premade styles and materials you can even choose to paint the patio door replacement yourself to match your decor. 

Hardware choice can also affect the look of a door. You can change your handle, hinges or locks to add extra character to your patio doors. Just be sure to strike a balance between functionality and cost when making these types of changes to a patio door as the small character elements are unlikely to add to the value of your home.