Patios, decks, backyards, and balconies are great spaces around the home to enjoy the outdoors. And easy-to-use patio doors are ideal for granting access to these relaxing areas while keeping your home secure against the elements, pests, and break-in attempts. Patio doors come in several different types, sizes, materials, and even color options, so you can find products tailored to your needs and preferences.
The best patio doors will be a perfect fit in the doorframe to help protect your home from inclement weather and keep out the likes of mice and insects. Impact-resistant glass is also a smart security measure. Energy-efficient materials will help insulate the home to keep down utility bills. Use this guide to learn what other factors and features to consider when shopping, and then review a host of products considered to be among the best patio doors you can buy.
- BEST OVERALL: Andersen 70-1/2 in.x79-1/2 in. 200 Series White
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: JELD-WEN 72-in x 80-in Primed Steel Left-Hand
- BEST FRENCH DOOR: MP Doors 60 in. x 80 in. Fiberglass Smooth White
- BEST SLIDING DOOR: MP Doors 72 in. x 80 in. Smooth White Left-Hand
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Patio Doors
When searching for the best patio doors for your home, keep in mind door type, size, and material—all factors that can affect energy efficiency, security, and installation procedure.
The two most popular types of glass patio doors are sliding doors and French doors. Though less common, there are multislide and bifold options as well. They differ in the way they open and close and the size of the opening they provide.
- Sliding patio doors sit inside a metal frame that’s attached to the rough doorway studs. The frame has a track on the bottom and the top to allow the door to slide open and closed. Typically, one side of the door is fixed in place, while the other slides in the track.
- French doors commonly come as a pair that can be attached to opposite sides of the doorframe. The doors meet in the middle when closed, but they don’t require center support, so when they are open, access is much wider than that provided by sliding doors. Some French doors do have one fixed door and one opening door, however, providing an opening similar to a standard sliding patio door.
- Multislide doors are a type of sliding door often installed in hotels and other public venues. Essentially, manufacturers add one or more additional doors to the standard sliding-door design. All of the doors can slide open or closed except for a single fixed pane. However, these doors are usually much too large for a residential home.
- Bifold patio doors also sit in a track, but instead of one moving door sliding in behind a stationary door, as with sliding doors, bifold models pivot in the track. Both doors turn to the side and stack accordion-style to offer a larger doorway opening than with a standard sliding door. These doors are fairly uncommon, so they may be difficult to find and expensive to install.
Although patio doors typically have glass panes, the surrounding frame may be made of different materials, including wood, vinyl, aluminum, steel, and fiberglass.
- Wood is good-looking, low maintenance, and generally durable. But wood can be susceptible to water damage and swelling over time if exposed to frequent temperature changes and high levels of humidity and precipitation.
- Vinyl is a lightweight material designed for energy efficiency, and it has a high resistance to rapid temperature changes. Vinyl doors are less expensive than wood, aluminum, steel, and fiberglass but not as durable as these other materials. It’s more susceptible to damage if hit, bumped, kicked, or knocked into.
- Aluminum is solid, strong, and low maintenance. It’s resistant to corrosion and rusting, and it’s a lightweight material that’s ideal for sliding doors. Keep in mind that metal isn’t a good insulator, so too much aluminum in a patio door can lower the energy rating and potentially increase your heating and cooling bills.
- Steel is similar to aluminum, with a low level of energy efficiency, but it’s the most durable option for a patio door. It can withstand harsh weather and fluctuating temperature extremes, but users may need to regularly paint steel patio doors and doorframes to resist rusting.
- Fiberglass, though less durable than wood, aluminum, and steel, is a lightweight material with a high energy efficiency. It won’t warp or fade in harsh weather and rapid temperature fluctuations.
The energy efficiency of patio doors refers to their ability to prevent the transfer of heat through the material or around the door and through the frame. High-efficiency products have very little heat transfer, so an air-conditioned home will remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Low-efficiency products can increase the cost of the heating and cooling bills.
Solid wood is a better insulator than metal. While glass can be susceptible to heat transfer, many glass sliding doors have two panes of glass in one frame. This creates an air cushion that helps to slow heat transfer and insulate the door. Look for the Energy Star logo on products to indicate high efficiency.
Weatherstripping is an integral part of exterior doors of all types, even car doors. These strips run along the edges of the doorframe so that when the door is closed, it abuts the weatherstripping to form a seal, blocking airflow, moisture, dust, dirt, and pests.
Sliding doors use a particular type of weatherstripping. These doors have a solid frame that they slide into, so thin pieces of weatherstripping are applied to the inside of the frame. When the door closes, it slides between two thin pieces of weatherstripping for a tight seal.
To keep the home secure, patio doors should include one or more built-in locking systems.
- French doors will usually have a simple door lock that prevents the handle from being turned, though there may also be a deadbolt to further secure the door.
- Sliding doors, multislide doors, and bifold doors will have a simple lock that connects to the doorframe, preventing the door from being pulled open. They may also have a track lock that blocks the track so that the door cannot slide.
- Impact-resistant glass can help thwart thieves from breaking the pane to gain access.
- Door and window alarms are a wise security measure that will alert you should someone try to enter your home.
Color and Finish
The color and finish of the door are largely subjective decisions based on personal decor preferences. The color of the door should either stand out from the home as a focal point or match it to seamlessly blend in. A popular choice is to match the color of the door to the nearby windows and window frames for cohesion. Keep in mind that, as exterior doors, they’re likely to get dirty, so consider a color and finish that are easy to clean. What’s more, some doors have decorative accessories, like built-in blinds between the glass panes to offer privacy and block light.
Frame and Fit
The first thing to do before looking for a new patio door is to measure the old door. Take measurements of the width and height of the door, and then take measurements of the doorframe. If installing a new sliding door, also measure the rough opening of the doorway so that you can find a frame that can be fitted to the studs.
Common patio door sizes include:
- 72 by 80 inches
- 60 by 80 inches
- 72 by 96 inches
- 96 by 81 inches
Tip: Door width and height measurements are rounded up. For example, a door measurement of 71.5 by 79.25 inches should be rounded up to 72 by 80 inches. This practice is an industry standard for doors and should in no way be adopted for other projects.
The patio door installation process is particular to the type of door. French doors are hung by hinges on the doorframe. They need to be measured to ensure that the doors will meet in the middle and remain securely closed. These doors also need to be supported from the bottom during installation to prevent their weight from tearing screws out of the frame before the entire door can be secured.
Sliding doors, multislide doors, and bifold patio doors are installed on two or more metal tracks. The tracks sit inside a frame that attaches to the rough opening of the doorway. Once the frame is attached to the doorway and the doors have been placed into the tracks, it’s necessary to seal the gap between the frame and the doorway studs with water- and temperature-resistant caulking to seal out dirt, moisture, and pests.
Our Top Picks
The patio doors described below feature durable construction and good design in a range of types. These picks are considered among the best patio doors in several categories to meet the needs of your home.
Andersen’s sliding patio doors include one fixed door and one sliding door with a stainless steel frame and tracks. Each door is constructed with two panes of glass to create an insulating air pocket between the panes. Inside the air pocket are built-in privacy blinds that can’t become tangled and never need dusting. The blinds operate via the slider mechanism located on each door.
The sliding patio door opens to the right-hand side, though left-handed options are available. It measures 70.5 by 79.5 inches and comes with a simple door latch lock located right above the handle.
The well-priced JELD-WEN French patio doors have a left-hand inswing that’s ideal for left-handed individuals. There are holes to install a handle and lock on the left-hand door, making it easier to operate the door with the left hand. The doors each have a five-by-three grid of energy-efficient dual-layer glass windowpanes to help insulate the home.
These glass panes sit in the center of the durable and rust-resistant galvanized steel doors, which come in a neutral white color and can be painted. The doors measure 72 by 80 inches, but only the left door opens. The right door remains stationary, similar to the stationary panel on a standard sliding door.
This MP Doors product is a good option for those who prefer a hinged door to a sliding model. Each door has two panes of glass, forming an insulating air pocket to help reduce heat transmission. The panes are held in place by the lightweight, durable fiberglass frame in a neutral white color.
These French doors are resistant to moisture, corrosion, and temperature fluctuations. While the handle and lock are on the right-hand side, left-handed options are available. Choose between 60-by-80-inch and 72-by-80-inch sizes.
Sliding doors tend to be more durable than French doors, and these are a particularly solid choice. They’re made with lightweight, durable fiberglass that’s resistant to rain, sleet, snow, dirt, dust, wind, and pests. Fiberglass is also energy efficient, helping to reduce heating and cooling costs.
These doors come in 60-by-80-inch and 72-by-80-inch sizes and are available with a left- or right-handed design. They each feature two panes of insulating glass with an air pocket between to slow the transfer of heat through the door. This air gap also contains built-in blinds that can be raised, lowered, and tilted with ease and are not vulnerable to tangles, dirt, or damage.
FAQs About Patio Doors
If you need a bit more information on shopping for and installing patio doors, have a look at the answers to these commonly asked questions.
Q. What should I look for when buying a patio door?
When deciding on a patio door for your home, consider the size of the doorway, the type of door, and the installation requirements. This will help you choose the best door for your home and skill set.
Q. What is the difference between French doors and sliding patio doors?
French doors are typically two hanging doors that are secured to opposite sides of a large doorway and close together in the center. Each door is supported by two to three hinges that connect to the doorframe. These doors are typically made of wood, vinyl, or fiberglass with several glass panes to see through and allow more light into the home.
Sliding patio doors sit in a full frame with two sets of tracks on the top and bottom of the frame. These doors slide on the track to open or close and are typically made of glass with steel, aluminum, vinyl, or wood frames.
Q. How is a patio door installed?
French doors and other hanging patio doors can be installed on hinges on either side of the doorway. Proper measurements must be taken to ensure that the doors meet exactly at the center of the doorway. The doors should also be supported during installation to prevent the weight of the door from pulling the screws out of the frame before the door is completely secured. Tear-away magnetic screen doors can be added to the same doorway to keep insects out while the doors are open.
Sliding patio doors and multislide doors require installation of a frame including two (or more for multislide doors) sets of tracks on the top and the bottom. The sides of the frame are secured to the studs before the sliding doors can be slotted into the tracks. When the frame and doors are in, seal the gaps between the frame and wall with caulking to protect against water, air, and pests.
Q. How do I protect my patio doors from burglars?
Protect your patio doors from burglars by using a standard lock. Blocking bars and shatterproof film can be a good option for glass patio doors to prevent entry by breaking the glass. Monitored alarm systems, including door and window alarms, are another great way to protect the home and notify you of break-in attempts.