white french doors scaled

Patio Doors

Patio doors for the home come in a broad range of materials, types and functions. The definition of a patio door usually means sliding doors opening out to a patio area or decking. However, patio doors today now also include also include French doors, frameless, stacking and even bifolding doors as garden access doors. After reading this article you should know everything you need about patio doors.

Patio Doors explained

A patio door typically provide access from a room out to the paved and decked area or garden. At the same time, they’re used for ventilation and even getting into a property from the back or side of the home. Whether made as aluminium patio doors, timber, PVCu or a combination of wood and aluminium, this style of residential door provides hinged, sliding or folding options, natural daylight and a functional door in the home.

Chosen well and especially as part of a new extension or property renovation, the purpose of a patio door is also providing substantial daylight thanks to reduced frame sizes and larger glass sizes.

Types of patio door

Find out which types of patio doors are best suited for a variety of scenarios. Everything is considered from materials to configuration and use.

Patio Door buying guide

Not sure whether bifold, sliding or French doors are best for your project? Everything you need to know about these and other patio doors.

A well-designed, attractive door set improves a living space, enhances the home viewed from the garden side and adds a focal feature in any room. You’ll also find aluminium doors widely used in high-end architectural glazing, featuring expansive glass, floor to ceiling windows and in some of the best house designs.

To choose the right doors as well as the best material, it helps to understand the options available. While doors are important of course, often they need integration with windows, screens and other products.

Understanding the materials used for patio doors

All of the current generation of materials used in these types of doors offer the following benefits:

  • Excellent door energy ratings and U-Values thanks to insulated profiles and glass
  • Double and triple glazing with most products
  • Latest security and weather protection from their design and high quality hardware
  • Extensive choice of colours
  • Solutions for lower thresholds, improved access or meeting specific requirements

The choices of doors are substantial for this part of the home. As well as this, some products work better replacing dated patio doors. Others are more suitable in new extensions.

Understanding thresholds on patio doors

With larger door sets a low level, easy access and even flush threshold such as those found on bifolding doors is also available on sliding doors, pocket doors and open corner designs.

French doors by their nature don’t come with a flush threshold but most door brands do come with a low threshold option such as the type used on front doors.

Getting a low threshold is easier when designing doors as part of a new extension than when replacing dated doors. However, a good installer has the skills to modify an existing opening, allowing the doors to sit lower as a result.

Aluminium patio doors

aluminium patio door in a penthouse apartment leading out to the terrace

In aluminium, these door types most come with thermally insulated aluminium profiles or solid aluminium for internal or porch doors.

You’ll find the widest possible range with aluminium versions having several options for aesthetics, opening and door functions, threshold solutions, colours and glass. As well as this, aluminium patio doors integrate fully with fixed screens or opening windows.

French doors, sliding doors, minimal frame and frameless, bifolding doors and slide and turn doors are just some of the options available. At the upper level these glazed doors also come as ultra-slim sliding doors and even pivoting hinged single doors.

The latest steel-look and Crittall® style designs are another way of creating garden access in an altogether different style.

Five benefits of aluminium patio doors

Whilst any modern door in other materials provides an excellent solution in the home, aluminium patio doors come with four unique benefits over other materials.

  • More flexible sizes smaller and larger than other materials.
  • Better opening options such as open corner or pocket sliding doors
  • More opening options such as tilt and slide, slide and stack doors
  • A better choice of frame styles such as contemporary, traditional or minimal
  • Slimmer frames than most other materials

PVCu patio doors

pvcu patio sliding doors

PVCu materials are certainly the most cost-effective way to have new doors.

Typical products include single and double doors, patio sliding doors and bifolding doors.  Modern steel patio doors offer excellent energy saving properties as well as good security and colour choices.

Another benefit is the luxury and highly desirable timber-look PVCu patio doors offering superb attention to detail in quality and appearance. Therefore the current range of products is substantially better with a better product perception than ever before.

As door design gets better and more sophisticated, doors now come with ultra-low thresholds and even no threshold at all.  For instance, there are doors designed to offer varying levels of weather resistance as well as helping with disabled access.

Glass options, colours, profile aesthetics and numerous accessories all work together to create impressive and durable patio doors for the home. Double glazed doors come with excellent thermally efficient units.

In spite of aluminium being popular for new doors, there are good reasons to consider the other material options as well.  For instance, planning constraints, listed buildings or personal taste means timber or steel provides a better option.

Five benefits of PVCu doors

  • The most affordable patio door solution
  • PVCu doors provide the best timber-look option without buying real wood
  • The foils and woodgrains in PVCu patio doors are the best
  • The only PVCu door able to also match PVCu windows with most brands

Steel patio doors.

steel-patio doors in black art-deco design

When it comes to appearance, long life, thin profiles and the very best, steel patio doors are hard to beat. The best brand in steel is undoubtedly Crittall®

In spite of their high price compared to aluminium, steel patio doors are incredibly desirable.  In particular, the renowned Crittall® doors and New York Style screens, as well as industrial looking patio doors, are on-trend.  Consequently, steel patio doors provide arguably the finest patio doors and screens. Best of all, they work well both inside as well as outside the home. (image courtesy of www.crittall-windows.co.uk)

Five benefits of steel doors

  • The slimmest and most luxurious option
  • Unbeatable sightlines and design detail only available with steel
  • Similar matching internal doors and screens
  • Fire-rated options available

Timber Patio Doors.

timber patio doors in a country kitchen

Patio doors in timber provide the best in thermal performance as well as a warm-to-the-touch material and very long life.  Many homeowners presume that timber patio doors and windows require ongoing maintenance. In truth, modern timber patio doors come with excellent product and paint guarantees.

Choose a quality timber patio door and you are certainly rewarded with a premium product.  Timber looks great and performs faultlessly for many years to come. For this reason, timber patio doors are ideal in traditional as well as modern houses.

Five benefits of timber doors

  • The best in natural materials
  • Warm to the touch feel
  • Excellent natural thermal insulation
  • Long service life
  • Quality guarantees and minimal maintenance

Hybrid or Composite Patio Doors.

solarlux hybrid patio doors in a german house

The latest Hybrid patio door products offering highly insulated and desirable patio doors in a combination of materials.

Hybrid patio doors come with aluminium on the outside and a choice of hardwood, softwood and other timbers on the inside.  In fact, you get an individual looking product enhancing any home.  They are robust, functional and desirable.

Another benefit of hybrid patio doors is substantial colour combinations with over 200 colours externally. You get a choice of wood stains and colours internally.

Five benefits of hybrid doors

  • Best of both materials, quality wood inside, low maintenance durable aluminium outside
  • Excellent U-Values and thermal insulation
  • High-end product and luxurious glazing
  • All types of windows and doors available as hybrid products
  • Distinctive styling creating altogether different looking glazing

Frameless Patio Doors.

frameless slide and turn patio doors in a character home

The latest generation of frameless patio doors provides virtually all glass interior and exterior doors.  

Only the essential elements come in aluminium. Frameless patio doors come as single or double glazed products, with varying levels of security, functionality and weather performance.

The benefit of a frameless patio door is minimal aluminium profiles as well as the best possible views.  Most frameless patio door products mostly come as slide and turn doors, although hinged glass doors, frameless double doors and frameless glazing are also available.

Five benefits of frameless doors

  • The best product for fewer aluminium profiles and the maximum glass area
  • Creates distinctive and contemporary patio doors in the home
  • Larger sizes than regular French Doors
  • All the security, energy-efficiency and weather protection of framed doors

Slide and Turn Patio doors

slide and turn patio doors in a new extension

The slide and turn door takes inspiration from bifolding doors but instead comprises individual panels. These types of doors generally come slimmer where the closed doors meet than bifolding doors and are more functional.

For instance, the doors can move along the track creating ventilation pockets for airflow without opening the full door set. At the same time they provide everyday access with a main ‘traffic door’ working just like a regular hinged door. Finally, the panels of these doors usually come at wider panel sizes than bifolding doors or French doors.

Five benefits of slide and turn doors

  • Slide and turn doors don’t encroach on the space when they move
  • You can place furniture up close to both sides
  • Independent panels are more functional for ventilation
  • Better partial opening option than bifolding doors
  • Wider and taller door panels than other doors
best material for patio doors

How to choose the best material for patio doors

For anyone looking to replace or provide new patio doors in their home, there is an excellent choice of materials. There is no absolute best material for patio doors.  Budget, house style, door function and personal taste are all important factors.

While we are an aluminium focused website, we do not necessarily say aluminium is entirely the best material for patio doors. There are also many good reasons to consider the other materials too.

Six ways patio door materials differ

  • Price whether by cost or brand.
  • Appearance, such as contemporary or traditional.
  • Specifications and design.
  • Quality of the product and components
  • The capability of the product, such as sizes, strength and integration with other products.
  • Security, weather and other accreditations.

As well as these, patio doors now form an integral part of many contemporary extensions and houses.  As a result, other external elements must complement and often work with patio doors.  For example, cladding, gutters, fascias, corner posts and steelwork, aluminium panels and even integral blinds.  

Consequently, how your patio door works with your other design or structural factors also determines the choice of material or brand.

In aluminium especially there is a big choice when it comes to finding who makes the best bifolding doors.  

For sliding patio doors, there are over fifty aluminium sliding doors to choose from, so invariably it is worth seeking advice on some of the best patio sliding doors on the market today. 

Types of patio doors by material explained

All of these popular patio door materials provide a variety of patio door types and styles. To illustrate the different types of patio doors, our at-a-glance table provides an overview.  Take a look at the different patio door types available in different materials.

Single Door
French Door
Bifolding Door 
Sliding Door  
Slide and Turn Door  
Steel-Look Door    
Doors with windows/screens 
Ultra-slim Sliding Door    
Pivot Door    
Automatic Door     
Open/Moveable Corner  ✓ ✓
Flush/Timber-look Doors     
Special shapes  
Oversize Patio Doors   

Always check with your chosen supplier or contact us with any questions. And remember, if you’re having bifolding doors, there’s no reason why you can’t match your bifolding door profiles to your French Doors. Origin is one of many bifolding door providers creating French Door designs using either their standard or slimline folding door profiles.

Sliding patio door product reviews

schuco sliding patio door Cortizo 4700 Sliding Doors review The Cortizo brand name is firmly established in the UK for its super-slim slider with a 20mm mullion, called the… Continue Reading
origin os29 sliding door1 Origin OS-29 sliding door review Launched in April 2021, the Origin OS-29 sliding door is an even slimmer model in the Origin range of sliding… Continue Reading
solarlux systems cero door Cero Sliding Doors Review Our Solarlux Cero sliding doors review takes a look at this highly advanced slimline door. Cero capitalises on the current… Continue Reading
two panel grey doors Origin OS-77 Sliding Door Review The Origin OS-77 Sliding Door by Origin now provides homeowners and Origin dealers with a more standardised aluminium door as… Continue Reading
schuco ase 60 sliding door Schuco ASE 60 Sliding Door Review In 2018, the new Schuco ASE 60 sliding door was introduced by Schuco.  That same year this door won the… Continue Reading

See all product reviews

 Benefit from our expert advice

  • Help finding a competent supplier/installer
  • Get Expert Product Advice
  • Guidance for a Specific project

Since 2010, we’ve helped thousands of homeowners, glazing and construction trades get the right aluminium windows and doors from the proper suppliers.