Tom Shafer

Slide right into a replacement patio door

August 24, 2011

Patios are popular on homes both existing and new. Over time, patio doors can become difficult to operate or they may not suit a new, interior-design style. You may even want to add a deck or patio, requiring a door where there wasn't one. Understanding the basics about patio doors--and what causes them to malfunction--can help when making a replacement door choice.

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Principles of the patio door

The term patio door means different products to different people. For this discussion, most sliding, patio doors are 6-feet wide, though some may be 5-feet and others, 8-feet wide. Today's sliding doors are mostly aluminum, vinyl, wood or wood clad.

Some sliding doors fold like an accordion door. Accordion-style patio doors are often used in locations where an unobstructed view of the outdoors is desired. Most residential doors are 80 inches or 96 inches high, although manufacturers like Win-Dor in Orlando make doors taller than 10 feet, including one model that closes into itself in a corner.

A sliding door has two or three panels, and in some custom cases, more than three panels. The panel is a large piece of glass with a frame around it. One panel opens, the others are fixed.

3 common reasons to replace sliding doors

Twenty or 30 years ago, inexpensive doors were used in many homes. Some now have operational problems, such as oxidized aluminum or glass that has grown foggy. These doors can be difficult or impossible to open.

When opening a sliding, patio door becomes a problem, there may be one of several causes:

  1. Wheels can become dirty or frozen in place.

  2. Notches and holes may exist along the wheel track, causing the door to bump along the track.

  3. The header, or frame structure, above the door may have started to sag and be pinching the door in the opening.

In cases where a sliding track exists, but the door is chronically stuck, replacing with a new sliding door will save on the cost of installing a new door frame, and possibly resizing the door hole.

If you have a patio door that does not operate correctly, or you want a change in design, sliding doors make good replacement doors. They are generally smaller than your current door, so they fit in the existing opening.


About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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