Sliding vs Swinging vs French: Which Patio Door Is Right For You?


The patio door is one of the most enjoyable features in any home. It provides handy access to your garden or patio while ensuring a beautiful view and a home immersed in natural light. If you are thinking of replacing your patio door type you want to make sure that your final choice fits in with the style of your home as well as the garden it leads into. Here is an overview of the three most common options of patio door available to base your choice on:

Sliding Patio Door

A sliding patio door is also called a gliding or bypass door. It is one of the most popular styles of door. A sliding patio door is particularly commendable if you are looking for an elegant full view door which simply slides to the side, without taking up any additional floor space. A sliding patio door is the perfect option if you are looking to access your patio or garden easily in just a simple sliding movement.

The sliding patio door is generally sold as a single unit and most commonly consists of two windowed panel sections, where one of the panels is attached while the other is mobile. The patio door can be opened or closed by a simple sliding movement, whereby the mobile panel of the patio door slides along concealed rollers. The sliding patio door can also include more than two panels, whereby several sliding panels can be combined with attached panels. These create a dramatic, wide expanse of glass along an entire wall. The sliding patio door also comes as a pocket door, commonly the size of an entire wall, which slides into the wall pocket, completely vanishing from view.

Swinging Patio Door

A swinging patio door is also known as a hinged patio door or a bypass door. The swinging patio door functions in the same way as a conventional front door. They consist of full view glass panels, often in pairs. The swinging patio door is hung from the middle with hinges on both sides of a central mullion. The swinging patio door opens in a similar fashion to the wings of a butterfly. Another variety of the Swinging patio door is the French door. The French patio door also consists of two full view panels in a pair, but is hinged at the sides so that the door panels instead meet in the middle when closed. The French swinging patio door comes with an astragal on one of the panels, in which the latching mechanism is contained. When the French patio door is opened, both panels are moved to the sides, leaving the space between the hinges completely clear.

Folding Patio Door

A folding patio door is particularly useful for opening the entire expanse of a wall to the outdoors. The mechanism of a folding patio door works like that of an accordion, whereby each section slides along an overhead track to neatly fold away for complete floor access. A folding patio door can be configured with two to eight ‘leaves’ or panel-sections.


Whereas the design options for the patio door often appear endless, when it boils down to materials for construction you generally have a choice between: fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum, steel, wood or wood-clad options for your patio door. Clearly, your choice depends on your personal preference, the style of your home as well as on its location.

Wood – Available in a variety of tree species, for example pine, mahogany, fir or alder. Each type has particular characteristics relating to its color, grain and sap amount which adds to a unique and beautiful facade.

Clad-WoodProvides a shell that toughens up the door. It consists of a thick layer of strong metal placed on wood. The aim is to provide a patio door which is low in maintenance but provides extra protection.

FiberglassBoth provides the feel and look of genuine wood but is built to better withstand tough climate conditions, whether hot, cold, damp or dry.

Steel - Provides an economical, strong and durable patio door option. Steel is a great choice no matter what climate you live in, and is usually treated to prevent any rusting. This type of Patio Door requires only very little maintenance.

AluminumProvides a patio door material which is both strong and lightweight as well as cost efficient. It also does well in most climates and is corrosion resistant.

VinylIs a very durable and strong material and also provides an energy efficient option for a patio door as it is capable of withstanding the elements, fading, rotting, paint peeling or flaking.

Finally, when making your choice of a patio door, it also makes sense to prioritize energy efficiency. When it comes to the glass, consider factors such as R-value, UV coating, U-factor, Low-E glass, and other alternative glass options when choosing a new patio door. Depending on the climate of the place where you live, the right type of patio door and glass might even pay for itself in the reduction you see in energy costs!