Exterior Glass Sliding Doors – designs & features.
Believe it or not, sliding doors have been around as early as the first century. Archaeological finds in the ancient town of Pompeii, Italy, show that they were commonly used in the homes of the Romans.
Moving forward to modern times, we find that they are coming back in style and offer many benefits to homeowners.
What are the available sliding door designs?
As the name suggests, this is a type of door used in architecture and construction that opens horizontally by sliding side to side and the sliding action is parallel to the wall it’s installed within.
There are multiple types of sliding doors and some can be mounted on top of a track, others suspended from their tracks, while some go into the wall when they’re slid open.
Some of the most common types of sliding doors include, bypass doors, pocket doors and bifold doors.
Although they are usually external doors, used to connect the interior with the exterior of the home you can use sliding doors to connect rooms within the house.
What Are the Main Features of Glass Sliding Doors?
Sliding doors come in many sizes and feature several differing design options depending upon the manufacturer in question and /or your specific needs and requirements.
You can generally expect solid security features, quality materials for high structural tolerance, self-draining cills, toughened glass, double glazed options, and more.
They are, however, also available as triple glazed and can come in panel configurations of 2 or more doors.
- Bypass sliding glass doors – in this design, the door panels (leaves) slide past each other within the frame. This sliding glass door style is what probably first comes to mind as the average patio door.
- Bifold sliding glass doors – If you look at them when they are closed, they look very similar to a standard bypass set of doors. It’s when you open them that you notice the major difference. In the case of bifold doors, they concertina to the sides of the opening and stack completely out of the way. In this way the whole doorway is unobstructed.
- Pocket sliding doors – not usually used for exterior applications, this design allows for the door to slide into a “pocket” that conceals the door when it is fully opened. The pocket is a cavity in the side wall into which the door slides.
Sliding doors are usually made from 1 of 3 different materials, uPVC, Timber or Aluminium. All of these products have similar emergency saving and security features, however, timber sliding doors will normally need more maintenance than uPVC or Aluminium.
In terms of cost, you are likely to find timber at the lower end, uPVC in the middle and Aluminium at the top end of the price ranges.
What Are the Advantages of Exterior Sliding Doors?
Glass doors opened through sliding are a great addition to any home. The main benefit of installing this type of external full length glass door is that you can enjoy a significantly greater amount of natural light than with any solid door. This “picture-window” also has the beneficial side-effect of making the room feel much bigger than it actually is.
They also offer quick and easy access to various areas of your home such as patios or rooms of the house. Sliding doors are much larger than regular doors, and this also allows you to move furniture or large objects around without any hassle.
They are built for maximum energy efficiency and security, so these doors offer as high levels of insulation as you can get in the market, helping your home remain cool during the summer and warm during the winter.
Security options include locking mechanisms that engage all around the frame in multiple points and tracks designed to stop the doors being forcibly lifted out of their tracks when closed.
Full length fully glazed sliding doors will also benefit from toughened safety glass, making them not only more difficult to break in the first place, but also much safer if they do get broken.
For those who are concerned about ease of access, the floor level threshold can be fitted in such a way as to be flush or rebated, making entry or exit problem free for small children, wheelchair bound or the infirm.
What Are the Disadvantages of Sliding Doors?
On of the first things homeowners thinking of fitting a set of exterior sliding glass doors need to bear in mind is that they are much bigger and more difficult to install than regular doors.
Apart from dealing with the size aspect, the installation process involves fitting tracks in a perfect position on the top and bottom of the door frame. Otherwise, you risk them being crooked, having trouble opening them or you can even generate security issues if the locks don’t engage properly.
The tracks of sliding doors are made of a series of grooves that attract dirt and can sometimes be hard to clean or even forgotten about. If the tracks accumulate debris, you can face problems such as derailing, jamming or difficulty in operation.
If the tracks fill up with dirt, it can block the drain holes allowing water to cross the threshold and ruin your internal flooring.
Another aspect worth mentioning once more, is that they can develop jamming issues and may not close properly as a result. This is yet another security concern.
Furthermore, if you don’t keep an eye on keeping the track clean, it is not uncommon for the door to jump out of the tracks, and you will need to have them quickly reinstalled.
How much do sliding doors cost?
The price of a sliding door depends on the standard features they come with and the additional ones you may wish to include.
It also depends on design, dimensions, and material. Generally, you can expect to pay at least £450 for a standard door, and this price covers only the bare minimum. If you’re looking for a larger door made of more expensive materials, be prepared to pay up to £1,000-£1,500.
Then comes the price of installing your new sliding door. This is where the dimensions, mechanisms, and materials used in the making make a difference in what you’re charged as well.
Your options are to buy the doors “supply & fit” from a reputable double glazed door company and have the job taken care of from start to finish.
If you’re confident in your skills, buy “supply only” and install the doors yourself. If you don’t have the skills (or time), you will need to hire a tradesman and a labourer. The average price for the work of a tradesman is £150 per day while the labourer will charge about £100 per day. These projects can take up to two or three days depending on the size of the job.
That would probably work out at around costing £500 to £600 just for installing a 2 or 3 panel set of sliding doors.
|Type of door||Approximate size||Price guide|
|UPVC 2 panel||2200 w x 2200 h||from £700 to £900|
|Wood effect UPVC 2 panel||2400 w x 2200 h||from £1,000 to £1,350|
|Aluminium 2 panel||3000 w x 2200 h||from £1,100 to £1,500|
|UPVC 4 panel||3500 w x 2200 h||from £1,200 to £1,500|
Sliding doors are a wonderful way to enhance the appearance of a home. They can maximize natural lighting in a way that standard doors and windows are not capable of providing, and can also increase airflow, along with many other benefits.