Patio doors may be constructed from a broad spectrum of materials. These include glass which is the most common choice, and which may be incorporated as a solid panel or in a multitude of small panels which are set within a frame. If you reside in colder climates, you may consider having your glass double paned, insulated or specially treated such that its able to trap the heat inside your home. Alternatively, you could go for doors made from aluminum and vinyl, which tend to be cheaper options ideal for those working with a tight budget. You should however keep in mind that you get what you pay for and should therefore not expect aluminum or vinyl doors to wear as well as the glass patio doors.
In the mid-20th century, sliding doors became very popular - two or three panels of glass that slide along grooves in the floor. To distinguish them from traditional French doors, they were marketed with the thoroughly modern name of Patio Doors and this is often the image people have today when that term is used. Easily installed in place of a window, the immediate advantages were additional natural light and access to the garden. They also became a popular option to use where a pivot door opening space was limited or where the aperture was wider than a pair of French doors. Older installations were typically single-glazed, prone to warping and usually became difficult to slide open and closed. Still available today but in a developed form with double glazing and rollers for easier sliding, the popularity of sliding doors during this century has declined as bifolding doors gained market share.
A visible "kitemark" on the glass is the consumers assurance that the double-glazed unit has been manufactured to British standards. The BSI has numerous standards, including: U-value verification, Window Energy Rating and Window Installation. The lower the U-value, the better the thermal performance and most local authorities will require this to be 1.8 or better to meet building regulations.
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