Choosing Types of Patio Doors: the Pros and Cons of These Popular Doors

Updated: Apr. 09, 2024

A great patio door is simple to use, enhances the overall style of your home and allows easy access to your outdoor living space.

Spending time on your patio, deck or balcony is a great way to socialize and connect with friends and family. COVID-19 concerns make functional outdoor spaces even more important.

According to a recent study by the International Casual Furnishings Association, “Ninety percent of Americans with outdoor living space have been taking greater advantage of their decks, porches, and patios, and consider their outdoor living space is more valuable than ever before.”

Patio doors give us access to those outdoor spaces. Reese Freeman, president and construction manager of Steamboat Springs Construction Co., says homeowners are thinking more critically about how they look and function.

“There has been an increased focus on maximizing glass and integrating indoor and outdoor experiences, placing patio door selection at the top of important design decisions,” he says.

Patio doors create a natural transition from your home to your deck or patio. The generous width allows people to walk through and carry larger items, like extra chairs. It can even serve as way to bring new furniture and appliances into your home.

Patio Door Factors to Keep In Mind

Keep these considerations in mind when selecting a patio door:

  • Swing space: For hinged patio doors, measure the space your door will be swinging into so it doesn’t bang into furniture or planters.
  • Visibility: If your want a beautiful, scenic view, consider a door with large, uninterrupted panes of glass.
  • Style: Consider the décor in the rest of your home when selecting a patio door type. Otherwise you could end up with a mis-matched ultra-modern door in a traditional home.
  • Cost: If you’re not going to install it yourself, factor in installation costs as well as the price of the door.

Sliding Patio Doors

Sliding Patio Doors via merchant

This is the most common style of patio door, composed of two or more panes of glass mounted to a track. Typically, one pane remains stationary while the other slides behind the first. Some models allow both panes to slide independently.

They don’t swing inward like hinged doors, so there’s no concern about the door hitting anything. But Freeman says the space may not be wide enough for some homeowners.

This Anderson 200 Series White Perma-Shield Gliding Patio Door includes the door frame and all hardware for installation. The glass is covered by a 20-year limited warranty.


  • Takes up almost zero space;
  • Easy to operate;
  • Affordable;
  • Experienced DIYers should be able to install.


  • Narrower opening;
  • Tracks must be kept free of dirt and debris.

French Patio Doors

Patio Doorsvia merchant

French patio doors attach to either side of the door frame with hinges. Unlike sliding doors, they don’t require a center support, so both sides can fully open.

This large opening allows guests to easily enter and exit, and comes in handy when moving large furniture in and out of your home. But Freeman says French patio doors are “not ideal for tighter spaces that cannot accommodate the three-foot swing direction.”

This Masonite Steel Patio Door features built-in mini-blinds, and the durable steel construction should last a long time.


  • Can be customized with decorative elements, like grilles;
  • Stylish aesthetic;
  • Relatively simple for experienced DIYer to install;
  • Most include a deadbolt and a door lock.


  • Requires space to swing open.

Bifold Patio Doors

La Cantina Doors Patio Doorsvia merchant

Bifold doors feature up to eight panels that fold to the side, like an accordion. This creates an extremely wide opening. But like French doors, you’ll need a door’s length of space for them to swing open.

Although they provide a wide, unobstructed view when open, the multiple frames break up the overall view when closed. They can also require more effort to open than sliding or French doors. The complicated design makes them a challenge for DIYers to install; best to leave this to a pro. They’re also extremely expensive.

If you do go this route, work with a pro to select the option for your home. Freeman recommends LaCantina Bifold doors.


  • High-end look;
  • Wide, unobstructed opening;
  • Can span massive openings.


  • Expensive.
  • Hard for DIYers to install.
  • Multiple panes break up the view when closed.