What’s the Difference Between a Patio Door and a Sliding Door?

glass french doors to a balcony

There are a lot of articles about patio doors and sliding doors, but what is the difference? The answer is simple, a patio door is any door leading to your patio. This can be a sliding door, a French door, or a standard exterior door. While a sliding door can be a patio door it can also be used in places that do not lead to the patio, such as garden doors, pool deck doors, veranda doors, or balcony doors. Frankly, even if a sliding door leads to somewhere other than a patio (like a balcony), most people still refer to it as a patio door.

What Type of Door is Right for Your Patio

The two most common types of patio doors are sliding glass doors and French swinging doors. Both types of doors have a lot to offer, so when comparing sliding glass to swinging French doors the best way to choose the right door for your home is to consider the following five things:

How much space do you have?

Swinging doors require more space to open and close. Sliding doors have panels that move along horizontal rails so they only require the space of the door opening. French patio doors require far more clearance space for doors to fully open. Unlike sliding doors French doors can typically open the entire width of the door opening while sliding doors can only open to the left or right of the frame. If you have an expansive room, with plenty of open area for door clearance then swinging patio doors may be for you.

Your View

Does your door opening face a beautiful view? Then you may want to consider sliding glass doors that feature an expansive viewable glass area perfect for capturing outdoor vistas. Milgard Trinsic™ series vinyl patio doors feature a narrow frame profile that provides crisp even sightlines, allowing your view to take center stage, and are available in 1, 2, 3, and 4-panel configurations.

Frame Materials and Maintenance

The Style of Your Home

sliding door to a patio

There are a variety of patio door frame materials available such as wood, vinyl, fiberglass, or aluminum. First, you will want to choose a frame material that performs well in your area. Here in Sacramento, that means choosing doors that can handle the wind, rain, and scorching hot summer sun. The type of frame material will determine the amount of maintenance the door frame will require. For instance, wood patio doors typically need to be sanded and repainted regularly. In comparison, vinyl and fiberglass patio doors require very little maintenance. Aluminum is fairly low-maintenance, but it may not insulate as well unless they are the thermally improved variety.

You have worked hard on making your home stylish both inside and out, so you’ll want a patio door that looks just as good. Both hinged patio doors and sliding patio doors come not only in different styles but also in different finishes. For example, if your home boasts an urban style, you could choose modern and super on-trend vinyl sliding patio doors in a black capstock finish. If your home is classic or traditional, replacing an old sliding door with a French patio door can not only elevate the look of your home but can also provide increased energy efficiency.

Glass Options for your Patio Door

Living here in sunny California you may want to take time to consider the glass coating options available for both sliding and swinging patio doors such as Low-E glass. Low-emissivity, or Low-E, glass is a high-performance glass

coating applied during the manufacturing of the patio door and was created to minimize the amount of UV (ultraviolet) and infrared light that enters your home. Patio doors with Low-E glass have a microscopically thin coating that is transparent and heat-reflecting. This means it helps reflect heat back inside the house in the cooler winter months and reflects heat to the outside in the hotter summer months.

While there may not be a difference between a sliding door and a patio door, there are still several things to consider when choosing a standard sliding glass door, French swinging patio door, multi-panel sliding glass door, or sliding French door. When it comes to glass patio home doors, you don’t want just any doors. You want stylish patio doors that operate easily for years of trouble-free use.

double sliding glass patio doors

That’s why at Dick’s Rancho Glass we proudly carry Milgard patio doors, they offer a wide variety of patio doors in vinyl, fiberglass, and aluminum framed glass, and each is designed to make a statement in virtually any home. What’s more, since all Milgard glass patio doors are custom-made to your order, we give you the freedom to think outside the box. Tweak a size here, add a distinctive grid configuration to the glass, or combine doors with a transom window or sidelight windows for a one-of-a-kind patio entrance. To begin exploring your replacement French door or sliding glass door options, check out all our patio door options, give us a call, contact us online, or visit one of our two glass showrooms in the Sacramento region:

Dick’s Rancho Glass Sacramento at 2900 ROUTIER ROAD

Or call us at (916)363-6554

Dick’s Rancho Glass Fair Oaks at 5349 SAN JUAN AVE.

Or call us at (916)863-2500

~ At Dick’s Rancho Glass our versatility and pride in craftsmanship are keys to our success. Our excellent reputation has been built on the foundations of quality, reliability, and maintaining a dedicated staff. ~