The term “patio door” can be a bit confusing. Technically speaking, any door leading into or out of your patio can be called a patio door. However, when used in the context of door styles, a patio door is commonly referred to as a gliding or sliding door. Does this mean ALL patio doors are of the sliding type? No, because French doors can also be used as patio doors.
Patio vs French Doors
At its most basic, the main difference between a gliding patio door and a French door is the way they operate or are opened. Where the typical patio door slides, a French door operates like a standard door, opening on a hinge. This is why a French door can also be called a hinged patio door.
In terms of design, both usually come with two panels. Depending on its configuration, a gliding patio door can have one or both of its panels operable. A French patio door, on the other hand, will have both panels movable, opening either inward or outward (but not both ways).
Another way to differentiate between gliding and French patio doors is to look at how they are constructed, mostly checking the amount of glass used by a door. Gliding patio doors are known for having expansive glass areas, offering unobstructed views because panels are generally made of just glass and the door frame. French patio doors also have a lot of glass (a defining feature for French doors in general), but they feature muntins, resulting in numerous lites or smaller panels of glass on the door.
What to Get?
Both gliding and French patio doors have something to offer you. It’s just a matter of picking out what will address your needs and preferences the most, so it’s always a good thing to go into the selection process knowing what you want to get out of a patio door. Going over all options available to you will also assure that you zero in on the right patio door for you.
Worried about space constraints? In the next part, we’ll be talking about how gliding and French patio doors can address that little concern, allowing you to enjoy a patio door replacement even when you have limited space.