Patio doors are available in three main types: sliding, atrium and french. Patio doors can have the same or similar efficient glass packages as most windows. They are available in a few standardized sizes that can fit any budget.
Sliding Patio Doors
The sliding patio door is the most common type of patio door. It is also the most economical door as well. A sliding patio door can be ordered with a right or left sliding panel. The sliding panel bypasses the fixed panel on the exterior side of the door. The insulated glass unit (IG) can have the same glass efficiency and appearance options as most windows. Other options include a keyed lock, multi-point locking hardware, foot locks and handle types & colors. Some manufacturers, including Milgard, have built french style framed sliding patio doors to imitate the appearance of a true french patio door.
Atrium Patio Doors
The atrium patio door has one operational panel and one fixed panel. It's similar to a french door, but only one side of the door operates. The atrium door can be ordered with an in-swing door or an out-swing door panel. The atrium door can also be hinged at the frame or to the other door panel for alternative swing patterns.The advantage of the atrium door is the larger opening size of the door for traffic and ventilation. The frame rails are usually larger and more robust. Finally, the appearance of this door is more traditional and is able to match the style of interior french style doors. Optional screens that retract into a roller-type housing are ideal for this type of door.
French Patio Doors
The french patio door is built with two operational door panels. It can be ordered with in-swing or out-swing door panels. The large opening size of french doors allows maximum ventilation and access for high traffic areas. Space and clearance issues should be addressed for proper operation of this type of door. Normally, one door panel is designated as the main operational door. This door panel swings freely and locks into the stationary door panel. The stationary door panel contains a flush bolt and astragal. This allows for the panel to be locked into place for security when the doors are closed or as the non-operational side of the french door when the other panel is being utilized alone. The flush bolt can be disengaged when both door panels need to be opened together. An optional retracting screen system is the best way to provide bug screening for this door type.
The slab is simply the door itself. Most entry door slabs are 2-3/8" thick. The universal building code requires all front entry doors to be at least 3 feet wide. The standard height for an entry door is 6'-8".
The door lite is any glass set into a door slab. A modern energy efficient entry door should have an insulated glass unit (IG) for a lite or lites. The IG can include many different glass patterns. Decorative glass can now be included within the interior of the IG, so energy efficiency isn't sacrificed for aesthetics.
The latch set is the door's handle and latch that act to keep the door closed against the frame. The spring loaded latch is recessed within the door slab and is activated by a handle or knob. The latch or door knob is usually mounted at 36" above the bottom of the door.
A lock set is a separate entry door locking device also known as a deadbolt lock. This device provides the primary security for any entry door. The solid steel "piston" is mortised within the door slab and extends into the door frame when locked. The "piston" inserts into a metal strike plate that should be secured with solid steel screws that are long enough to penetrate the home's construction framing.
The frame of an entry door is the side and top rails that hold the door slab into position. The frame includes weather striping, usually compression type, along its entire length. The frame also holds the hinges that operate the door slab.
A foam core is included in most energy efficient entry doors. With the exception of a solid wood door, a foam core provides the insulation, condensation resistance and noise dampening for most steel and fiberglass entry doors.
The hinge set describes a door's hinges. One set is applied to the frame and the other set to the door slab. A hinge should be made from solid metal and includes the hinge pin that provides the connection of the two pieces. Hinge sets are now made to match the color of most lock and latch sets.
The hinge set is actually three pieces commonly referred to as a door hinge. It consists of two plates and a pin. One plate is applied to the frame of the door and the other set to the door slab. The plates are joined by the pin, which allows the two to rotate in a fixed radius. A hinge set should be made from solid metal and can be ordered to match the color of most lock and latch sets.
A sidelite is any glass unit applied to one or both sides of a door frame. Sidelites are joined (mullioned) to the frame of a door in order to become on overall door unit. This factory joining provides a more stable and energy efficient entry door system.
Sill and Sill Sweep
The sill is the term used to describe the bottom frame portion of a door assembly. The sill is typically sloped to keep moisture away and includes a weather strip known as a sash seal. It provides the surface for a secondary wether strip known as the sill sweep. The sweep is normally mounted to the door slab to keep moisture and air leakage to a minimum. (See the diagram below for an example of these weather stripping types).
A transom is the general term for any window or glass mounted above an entry door or another window. A transom is mullioned, or joined, to the door or window frame to become one overall unit. Transoms can be square, rectangular or radius depending upon the style desired and space available.
Entry Door Parts
The modern home entry door is built to provide protection from harsh weather and security for the occupants. The door materials used today are mostly steel, wood or fiberglass doors. The parts of a door haven't changed much over the years, but the newer materials have increased the life of a door system.