Buying Steel-look sliding doors

Steel-look sliding doors provide all the benefits of larger glass panels, better views and more light coming into a home. They’re also highly desirable in the steel look with the applied bars, black matt finish and high-specification safety glass. Just like their folding sliding door counterparts in the steel look, they can give the grid-like pattern of heritage, Art-Deco or loft-style industrial doors. This article explains what you need to know about steel-look sliding doors and helps homeowners and the trade understand these products better.

What are steel-look sliding doors?

steel-look sliding doors showing a sunflex patio door in a brick extension.
Sunflex SVG20 sliding doors expertly customised in the steel-look.

Whether referred to as steel-look, steel-replacement, industrial or contemporary, steel-look sliding doors come in many different brands and systems. Importantly, when used externally, this style of door uses standard sliding door products. There are presently no purpose-designed steel-look sliding doors like its French door alternative. However, designed right, these create an attractive, appealing sliding door with a timeless style and a desirable multi-panel appearance with carefully applied glazing bars.

How these sliding doors come first depends on the brand chosen. In most cases, it’s the slimmer sliding door models and the structurally bonded designs especially, give the best looks. In most cases, the gearing, handles, locks, and other components are the same as fully glazed doors.

Unless it is an internal door system, steel sliding doors are usually not widely available as exterior patio doors. Crittall® windows, arguably the best known steel door brand, only provides an internal solution.

Design details of steel-styled patio doors

steel-look sliding doors
Close-up detail of slimline glazing bars

The mullion sightlines of sliding doors are heavily marketed. 20mm mullions or interlocks are commonplace with a lot of system. However, unless the entire door set comes installed within the structure, this is the only area of the doors that’s at this dimension.

Many homeowners expect the same 20mm sightline all round. With most sliding doors it’s not possible. The frame is thicker all around, at the head, track and sides. One product while not marketed as a steel look door, having the same 35mm sightline all round is the Cero Sliding door, Made in Germany by Solarlux.

Take a look at our article listing the mullion sightlines of most sliding door brands available in the UK today.

Most sliding patio doors come with square flatline profiles, so broadly speaking they’re all contemporary.

steel-look windows in a new home made by everglade windows trade

For the glass, safety glass comes as standard in high specification glass units. As a minimum, these doors come with glass having a soft-coat low-emissivity coating, warm edge spacer bars and argon gas fill. 

Then the units have powder coated aluminium bars applied. Some products only offer one size. Others give you a choice. Expect to find bar sizes around 19mm, 25mm, 35mm or 40mm deep. Most choose the slimmest version but the bolder look suits the thicker bars better.

On the genuine steel product, the glazing bars tend to be around 28mm such as the Innervision sliding door.

The glass units themselves you’ll find have additional spacer bars arranged in the same grid. The purpose of these is hiding the inside faces of the bars.

Structurally bonded steel look sliding doors will come factory glazed. Other products and subject to size get glazed on site.

Interior Steel-look doors.

aluco internal doors in a traditional house extension
Aluco internal steel-look sliding doors with matching hinged doors.

Many of the pictures showing interior sliding doors show these without a track and a clear floor. In aluminium, these aren’t easy to find and the better products come in steel and single glazed.

A good installer can advise better, depending on the system they use. Where an internal track is undesirable then this particular range of sliding doors isn’t suitable. The best solution is a proprietary interior steel sliding door system such as the range by Aluco, the IDA Collection by Smart Systems, Vision Design Projects in London, Mondrian Glazing, Crittall® Innervision, Lakes Doors and many others.

In our view, as a dedicated internal system, the sliding doors by Aluco are probably the best on the market right now.

FGC interior steel look slide and turn doors

There’s another product that’s excellent as an internal steel-styled door and that’s the slide and turn system by Frameless Glass Curtains (FGC),.

This uses a single glazed interior slide and turn system. The lines are minimal, the threshold is super low and the doors look excellent in this grid-like style, popular right now. If you’re looking for steel-look doors with more functionality and working more like a bifold, check them out or get in touch.

steel look interior bifols5
Working just like a bifold having a traffic door for regular access.

Some of the best steel-look sliding doors brands

With so many different types, here’s some of the best styled sliding doors using applied bars. Remember, these are standard doors you can also have without the bars generally. As well as this, they come in multiple designs, open corner options, pocket sliding doors and with single, double or triple tracks.

Architectural Vision Sliding Doors

The slimline sliding doors range also in a steel styling uses the same system as Cortizo. However, for the slimline bars, Architectural Vision does it somewhat differently.

Their doors have the bars within the double glazed unit and made as part of it. As a result, you get the same grid-like appearance but the smooth glass surface on both sides. It’s very well done and it looks highly effective.

Cortizo Sliding Doors

cortizo steel-look sliding doors
Cortizo sliding doors with multiple glazing bars

The Cortizo slimline slider with a 20mm interlock is one of the best-selling in the UK and comes from many different manufacturers. It also comes in many brand names.

This particular system works very well as a steel-look patio slider but the very deep mullions aren’t to everyone’s taste despite the 20mm centre profiles.

Origin OS20 Artisan, Infiniglide Doors, aïr20 SL and many others all use the same system.

Maxlight Sliding Doors

The Maxlight product is exceptionally well made, and also comes in a slim slider with the heritage styling. It’s also quite expensive.

This is another highly credible door in the steel-look. If there’s a downside to this product, it’s the location of the lock, right at the bottom of the door at floor level. Most users won’t have an issue with bending right down to lock and unlock their doors. Others may find this cumbersome and not that convenient. It’s not a design fault. These doors are so elegant and slim, they’re too narrow for the lock body.

Sieger Systems Sliding Doors

The Sieger sliding doors range comes as the 45, Slim XL and Sieger Slim model variants. An excellent company with a great range of doors and general architectural glazing products. Their doors also come in a highly effective steel-look.

Sunflex SVG Heritage sliding doors

sunflex svg steel-look sliding doors
Sunflex SVG Heritage Sliding Door

When looking at this door style, we recommend considering the Sunflex SVG20, 20mm mullion or SVG30, 30mm mullion. By far their best feature is the desirable slim central section but without the heavy projection of the Cortizo product. The same sightline face on but without the bulk viewed at an angle from inside. The other fantastic feature of Sunflex sliding doors is how the doors open and stack flush, whereas most other sliding doors open fully in a staggered panel design.

Even better with the Sunflex door is how, subject to the design, the sliding panels stack fully flush when the doors are open.

The Sunflex manufacturing quality and broader product range is what makes this brand of steel-look sliding doors ideal. All the great looks, none of the complexity and a prestige brand in the home.

Sunvista Slimline Patio Doors

Made in the UK and featuring a 19mm mullion, the Sunvista product we consider a better solution than a Cortizo slider. If you’re in the market for a 20mm slim sliding door, do check out the Sunvista sliding door too.

Neater stacking, a better threshold, a more specialist fixing method and it comes in more options. The steel look version looks great. You can even have it in a pocket sliding door going into the wall, and an open corner design.

black patio doors with bars

Any other sliding door brand as steel-look sliding doors

Steel-look sliding doors are possible by professionally applying slimline glazing bars to the specially made glass units. Therefore, any good installer or manufacturer can create these.

Therefore, whether you’re supplying Smart Systems Visoglide, Aluk patio doors, Reynaers, Schuco or any other sliding door brand, there’s no reason why any of these can’t be customised in the steel look. The above list is, therefore, relevant to other doors available to homeowners and the wider trade. However, the slimmer the door at the interlock or door mullions, the better the overall appearance.

More information about heritage styled doors for homeowners and the trade

Given the popularity of this glazing style, there are even social media pages dedicated to it. Importantly, there is no exterior sliding door made of steel, but you will find interior sliding doors. The Steel Windows Association is worth getting in touch with if you do require more information about steel doors from either established names like Crittall or independent manufacturers and designers.

Do not be swayed by terms such as Crittall® style or Look. Neither are they in the style of the genuine Crittall product nor will you get the same looks and feel. Even the handles and hardware are different. Steel is steel, aluminium is aluminium. The advice, therefore, is to see the products, study the fine detail, see what style you like best. Above all, always use a good provider of these products.