Sliding doors – everything you need to know

Have you always wanted uninterrupted garden views and easy access to the outdoors? Find out if installing sliding doors could be the answer
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  • With frame profiles getting thinner and advanced runners offering smoother opening, modern sliding doors are fast becoming the top choice to enable a closer connection with your garden or patio. Whether you’re building a new extension or just want to upgrade your existing patio doors, read on for all the sliding door info you will need.


    Image credit: David Still

    Why choose sliding doors?

    Compared with bifolds, which subdivide the glass multiple times and need stacking space when open, sliding doors are far neater. ‘If you have more than four metres in width, we’d recommend sliding doors,’ says Steve Bromberg, General Manager, Express Bi-folding Doors.

    What are the size options?

    The width of a sliding door ranges from 0.8m to 3m. Height also has an impact – if the glass is very tall, it can’t be as wide. You also need to consider weight. An automated opening system is recommended for doors over 600kg.

    Which material is best?

    The most affordable option is UPVC, but it’s not terribly strong, so the frames will be fairly thick. Timber is a classic choice. Go for hardwood or engineered timber if your budget allows. If you choose softwood, make sure there’s a decent guarantee. Aluminium offers the slimmest profile, which equals virtually uninterrupted views. At the top end, you can buy frameless structural sliding glass, but you’ll need very deep pockets!

    Is there a choice of colour?

    Wood can be stained or painted – usually in any RAL colour. Aluminium is powder-coated, which is very low maintenance and, again, the colour options are vast. Black and dark grey, which leads to a ‘Crittall’ steel look, are currently in vogue.

    What about the fit?

    To keep the doors sliding smoothly, it’s important that the walls above don’t transfer any weight onto the door frame – a steel support beam may be required in wide openings. The floor also needs to be solid, to keep the tracks straight and level. Lift and slide runners, with heavy-duty bearings, are preferable.


    1. Good wood

    Sliding doors-George-Barnsdale

    Grandis Hardwood sliding doors in Moss Grey, from £2,500, George Barnsdale

    2. Triple glazing

    Sliding doors-Jeld-Wen

    Fenton softwood sliding door set in Dusky Grey, from £1,677, Jeld-Wen

    3. Heavy-duty design

    Sliding doors-Bifolding-Doors

    XP Glide S aluminium sliding doors, from £1,650 per m, Express Bi-folding Doors

    4. Slender frames

    Sliding doors-The-Caulfield-Company

    Cero sliding glass doors, from £15,000, The Caulfield Company

    The best sliding door companies for…

    The Alternative Window Company‘s eco-friendly sliding doors are made from self-cleaning glass with a composite frame that requires zero maintenance.

    IQ Glass supplies architectural glass systems – its installation and design team come highly rated.

    Sunflex UK‘s sliding doors feature five-point locks, anti-lift blocks and the latest laminate security glass.

    This article originally appeared in Ideal Home, July 2017.

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