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What to Look for When Buying New Patio Doors

Happy family on cozy patio area with sliding doors.Patio doors may not be front and center when it comes to your home’s exterior, but that doesn’t mean they don’t play a vital role in its beauty and functionality. Outdated, dingy, and poorly operating patio doors can be more than just nuisances and eyesores. They can be a barrier to accessing and fully enjoying your backyard, deck, or patio. Thankfully, an experienced company can replace patio doors quickly—usually in just a few hours—and with minimal disruption to your home. With installation being relatively straightforward, the key to a successful remodel is choosing the right kind of patio doors for your home. Here are four things to consider when buying new ones.    


Let’s start with the most basic question: what type of patio doors should you go with? Just because your current doors are one style, it doesn’t mean you can’t switch things up with their replacements.


The most common style of patio door is sliding, and for two big reasons. First, since the doors don’t sweep outward or inward, they do not require a lot of floor space to operate. Second, with their large glass doors, they let in plenty of light and offer great views.


French doors are close behind sliding doors in terms of popularity. These hinged options offer classic styling and plenty of hardware options. French doors also have a lower threshold than sliding doors, which require a track for the panels to operate.


If you really want to make your outdoor living area an extension of your home, folding patio doors are the way to go. These doors stack against each other as they retract and can open up an entire wall of the room, proving maximum access and unobstructed views.  

Glass Options

There’s no shortage of glass options when it comes to patio doors. Some of the most popular are impact glass, tinted glass, and glass with low-E coatings that filter out UV rays, the type of light that causes color fading in sun-exposed fabrics and flooring. You can also opt for energy-efficient glass packages that have gas fills between the panes, increasing thermal performance.   

Frame Material

Just about every patio door frame is made from one of four materials: wood, metal, fiberglass, and vinyl.


Among frame materials, vinyl is the most popular, especially with sliding doors. Vinyl is durable, easy to clean, energy efficient, and stands up well to temperature extremes.


Wood patio doors are beautiful and come in a variety of types and finishes. They do require more maintenance than other options, but with proper care should last as long as any other material.


Steel and aluminum doors are exceptionally durable and often more affordable than some other options, but they may not be as energy efficient as vinyl, wood, or fiberglass models. 


Like fiberglass windows, fiberglass doors are growing in popularity. They offer the best strength-to-weight ratio of the four, combining exceptional durability in a lightweight package. And because of their strength, the frames can be a little less bulky than other types of patio doors. But they are more expensive than vinyl or metal.   

Convenience and Decorative Options

The right finishing touches can take your patio doors to the next level. In addition to hardware options such as handles and reinforced locking mechanisms, you’ll also be able to choose from a variety of grid options and even built-in blinds that are sandwiched between the glass panes. And of course, you’ll be able to choose from many different colors and finishes.

Your Source for Premium Patio Doors

Deciding which patio doors are right for your home will depend on your budget, your aesthetic preferences, and your needs. If sorting through all the possibilities is a little daunting, you don’t have to go it alone. The Window Depot offers and installs premium patio doors from top manufacturers Simonton and PGT. One of our representatives will be happy to visit your home in the Tampa Bay area to review options and answer all your questions. Reach out to us today. You can also visit our Palm Harbor showroom to chat and view samples of our patio doors firsthand.   

Sliding Vs. French Patio Doors: Which Is Right for Your Home?

Sliding Vs. French Patio DoorsPatio doors are intended to be the gateways to fun and relaxation, providing access to your yard or an outdoor living area. If they’ve seen better days, however, and no longer operate as intended, they can be an annoyance at best and a hazard at worst. Replacing your old patio doors will not only improve your home’s functionality, but also its energy efficiency, security, and beauty. But unlike front entry doors, which are always hinged, patio doors come in several varieties, including sliding, garden, and folding. Which kind is right for your home will depend on several factors.


Since patio door types are referred to in many different ways, any discussion must begin with a quick review of terminology. Hinged patio doors are called a few different names depending on their style. Those with large, undivided glass panes are usually called garden doors, and like all hinged doors, they can swing inward or outward. French doors have panes divided by grids, giving them a more traditional look.

Sliding doors, also called gliding doors, are divided into several types. The most common are traditional sliding doors with one large glass pane per panel. French sliding doors have panes with grids. Telescopic sliding doors have three or more doors that run on parallel tracks, allowing them all to be retracted against the wall.

Folding doors are also called accordion doors. They fold against one another, and like telescopic doors, can be retracted to a wall. Bi-folds have two panels, tri-folds three, etc.


Pricing for doors will vary depending on material, glass, and hardware choices, but in general, hinged French doors are between 10% and 20% more expensive than basic sliding doors. They also require more expertise to install since they must be properly hung and balanced. The cost for folding doors is comparable to sliding doors, but larger doors with more panels will cost more.

Energy  Efficiency

All types of patio doors are available with features such as tinting, insulation-filled frames, and double-panes for enhanced thermal performance. Because of their configuration, sliding doors are less prone to air infiltration than hinged French doors, making them more energy-efficient, but it’s unlikely you’ll notice any significant difference in your monthly utility bill between the two options.

Sliding Vs. French Patio DoorsTransition Type

When selecting a patio door, it’s important to consider what it’s providing access to. If your lawn comes right up to your house, a sliding door or French doors that open inward will be the better option, since it won’t sweep out over the grass. If you have a tiled patio, outward opening French doors are also an option. If your patio doors open to a fully enclosed space such as a screened-in porch or sunroom, folding doors offer the opportunity to open up the entire wall, creating a nearly seamless transition from the rest of your house into your outdoor living area.


Sliding, hinged, and folding doors are all available with impact-resistant glass as well as multi-point, tamper-resistant locking systems. The weakest point with French doors is where they meet. Sliding patio doors avoid this potential vulnerability, but anti-lift devices such as lockable inside drop bolts can be unsightly.

Space Considerations

One of the biggest pluses with sliding doors is that they require very little space to operate. This is an important for cramped quarters. French doors require room to sweep in or out. Folding doors require enough space along the wall to allow the panels to stack against one another. One consideration often overlooked is raised thresholds, which are also called rebates. French and sliding doors have them. Folding doors have no-threshold options that eliminate a possible tripping hazard, but they are not as energy efficient as those with thresholds. For this reason, they’re recommended for interior use such as a house-to-sunroom transition.


When it comes to unobstructed views, folding and telescoping doors are the way to go. These doors allow you to open up the entire wall for maximum exposure. The flip side of this coin is that when folding doors are closed, there’s more framing than with sliding doors, so they allow in less light. Because of their grids, traditional French doors have the most restrictive views, but “restrictive” is a relative term considering the amount of glass all patio doors feature.

If you’re ready for new patio doors, the company to turn to in the Tampa Bay area is The Window Depot. We offer and install a wide variety of sliding, French, and folding doors in a plethora of styles. Reach out to us today to learn more or drop by our Palm Harbor showroom to see samples of the doors we carry.

What Makes a Door Energy Efficient?

What Makes a Door Energy Efficient?Exterior doors lead a double life. When they’re open, they provide access to your home or backyard. When they’re closed, they provide a formidable barrier against would-be intruders and the elements. If you’re in the market for a new door, it’s fairly easy to see if it meets your standards for security. The locking hardware is right there for you to inspect. But how do you know if the door you’re considering is up to snuff when it comes to its thermal performance? It’s not quite so obvious. If you’re wondering what makes a door energy efficient, here are a few things to keep in mind before you purchase a new one.

Frame Material

When it comes to door frame materials, you want to choose something that is a poor conductor of heat. Fiberglass front doors and vinyl patio doors are two of the best options in terms of energy efficiency. Both of these materials resist thermal conduction quite effectively. Since steel is good at transferring heat, this frame material is a notch below the others. But most modern steel doors have insulation-filled inner chambers to boost their energy efficiency. Wood doors are the least energy efficient.


Doors come in a variety of styles, from sleek and minimalistic to elaborate and eye-catching, but the single biggest determining factor for energy efficiency is the amount of glass that’s featured in its design. Doors with larger window panels tend to be less energy efficient than windowless doors, especially if the glass is a single pane (see below). With their large windows, patio doors are less energy efficient than entry doors, but modern designs incorporate several features to minimize heat transfer, including insulation filled frames. Hinged patio doors are less energy efficient than sliding models.

Glass Type

Just like windows, the glass in exterior doors is available in standard and high-performance packages. To maximize thermal performance, the glass must have two or three panes. The most energy efficient door glass also has argon or krypton gas between the panes to further reduce heat flow. Premium patio doors are available with these options as well, but to make them as energy efficient as possible, window treatments such as curtains or blinds are a must. They may block your view, but they’ll also block solar heat, which will keep your home cooler during warmer months.

Internal Insulation

The core of a door is either solid or a honeycomb of inner chambers. While solid-core doors are touted for their security, they are not as energy efficient as doors with insulation filled core. Polyurethane foam is most often used to create a thermal barrier that prevents heat transfer. Obviously, the more insulation the better the performance, which is another reason why doors with a small amount of glass or no glass at all are more energy efficient. Insulation-filled cores are smaller in window-dominated models. And as mentioned above, patio door frames can also be augmented with insulation.


The most energy-efficient doors will not provide the thermal performance they’re rated for if they’re not properly installed. Even doors that open easily and seem plumb, level, and square can be misaligned just enough to create gaps for air to get through. It may seem counter-intuitive, but improper installation is more common on pre-hung doors, which are packaged with their frames. That’s because the frames must be properly sealed and caulked to prevent airflow, and if this isn’t done with precision, it could allow air and moisture to seep into your home. Another common problem is weatherstripping that’s damaged during installation.

The Company to Turn to for Energy Efficient Doors

If the time has come to replace your exterior doors, the company to turn to is The Window Depot. We offer homeowners throughout the Tampa Bay area a wide variety of premium products made by industry leaders such as Provia, Therma-Tru, Plastpro, and PGT. In addition to our front and patio doors being energy efficient, they’re also durable, easy to care for, and of course beautiful. Reach out to us today and schedule a no-obligation consultation to learn more. Or if you’d prefer to browse our selections firsthand, drop by our expansive showroom in Palm Harbor. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect exterior door for your home.

What are the Types of Entry Doors?

Thinking about buying a new entry door? Overwhelmed by what type you should consider – Aluminum, uPVC Skin Composite, or Fiberglass Skin Composite?

The Window Depot is not only only Tamp Bay’s best source for replacement windows but also entry doors! Read below for a handy guide to understand the differences between they types of entry doors. Any questions, call us and we’ll be more than happy to help!

There are a few types of composite doors available on the market for homeowners to choose from. The three main types of composite doors are metal like steel and aluminum, fiberglass and uPVC. Composite doors are strong, last longer and are better insulated. They require very little maintenance or upkeep. Composite entry doors are available in a range of colors and styles as well to suite the décor of your home or business. Each type of door has it’s own specific benefit depending on the material used in its fabrication and overall workmanship.

Aluminum Skin Composite Door:

These doors are available in a single layer, double layer, or a triple layer. The outer layer is always aluminum and usually smooth in texture. On doors with two or more layers polyurethane foam is used to make up the core. The foam is great for insulating and sound damping properties. On triple layer entry doors you will have an extra layer of galvanized aluminum built into the door.

Aluminum doors tend to be used more in commercial environments like office buildings, dorms, hotels, and some corporate installations. A common style includes an aluminum frame with a glass window in the center. Aluminum doors also cost less that wooden doors. Usually when building a structure that includes a lot of doors such as a school you will see aluminum doors as the choice due to it’s overall value.

uPVC Skin Composite Doors:

Due to the easier maintenance and better durability than a wood door most people prefer a composite door. There are plenty of modern designs available to choose from as well. With the right paint these doors will maintain a long luster in the elements. When the grime and dirt accumulate simply wipe down your door with soap and water to have everything looking new again. These doors also resist nicks, scrapes, bumps, and jabs better than wood doors. Lastly environments that have high humidity or moisture may want to look at a PVC skin door.

UPVC composite doors also resist the weather better than wood doors. Adding a piece of frosted glass will also help let in light during the day while adding an ornamental and decorative characteristic to the door. It’s debatable as to weather the light entering you home can offset the cost of lighting your entry or foyer. Since composite doors are made by machine they are available in many different sizes and moldings. They also can come with different options like knockers, letterboxes, peepholes, and windows.

Fiberglass Skin Composite Doors:

Fiberglass composite doors are also available and provide a bit more rigidity and avoid the expansion and contraction of the summer and winters. Fiberglass doors are constructed using fiberglass and resin and are also available in a variety of shapes and sizes. The skin is molded from a resin in a liquid form which chemically hardens during the manufacturing process. This allows for a finer grain definition. Fiberglass doors tend to also last a very long time and are very versatile but they are not as sound proof. Speak to your local door and window store representative to find out which door is best for you.

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