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Adding a large set of patio doors has, for several decades, been a popular way to improve the home. In the case of French doors, their use goes as far back as hundreds of years. There’s nothing really new about the idea of putting a large, glazed door onto the rear of your property.

With that said, the various patio-door technologies have come along in leaps and bounds over the last few years. With more stringent building regulations, doors have become extremely energy-efficient. Moreover, an older set of doors is likely to have deteriorated, meaning that it won’t quite meet the current standard.

You might have last invested in patio doors a few decades ago, or you might have just inherited an ageing set after having moved into a new house. Whichever the case may be, if you’re the owner of a creaking set of patio doors, therefore, it might be time to plan an upgrade.

How are newer doors better?

oak french patio doors

Modern patio doors offer several substantial advantages over previous generations. Newer, folding styles have been introduced, for one thing – but the classic sliding and French doors have been incrementally improved, to the extent that they’re now vastly superior to their predecessors.

Security

Among the more important functions of any external door is keeping would-be intruders out of the building. Older patio doors picked up something of a bad reputation for being flimsy and easily forced open. This reputation still lingers with customers old enough to remember this period! But the truth is that modern patio doors are extremely substantial. Removing a bi-fold door from its tracks requires getting at the interior, and the same applies to the hinges of a French door set. Our patio doors are Secured by Design, which means that we follow police developed guidance to provide products that meet the criteria to help reduce crime. This equals much more secure doors!

You might think that incorporating lots of glass would make an external door less secure, but this isn’t the case. Burglars are hesitant to smash glass, as doing so tends to create a substantial noise, leaves a trail of forensic evidence, and risks injury. The glass used for patio doors is toughened and double glazed, making it extremely difficult to break through.

Thermal Efficiency

As you might expect, newer patio doors are vastly more thermally efficient than older ones. Building regulations have helped to drive these changes, as new properties are required to meet certain energy efficiency standards. This has required doors to meet certain standards too. The results are new technologies that make a big difference to a patio door’s thermal efficiency, keeping your home at the right temperature and keeping your heating bills down.

Older doors may deteriorate over time too. As double-glazed panels age, they develop leaks. When the inert gas (or vacuum) escapes from between the panels, the ability of the door to contain heat falls substantially. As such, investing in a new set of patio doors usually results in significant energy savings, despite the advances in technology.

The same can be said of the frame of the door, too. Older metal doors may be made from the same material all the way through the frame – which allows heat to be easily conducted from one side to the other. By packing the frame with thermally-efficient material, modern manufacturers can counteract this problem.

Material

Energy-efficiency isn’t the only advantage of the modern range of materials. Aluminium, timber and uPVC frames are all available, and they all have their individual strengths and weaknesses. A timber door, for example, will outperform any older set of patio doors – and it’ll look fantastic while doing so. A modern aluminium set of patio doors, on the other hand, can be built with a very thin frame. This allows the panels to be made accordingly bigger, which allows more sunlight to find its way into the home.

Maintenance

To get the best from a modern set of doors, you’ll need to treat them to the occasional spot of care. Depending on the sort of door you’ve got, this care may take different forms. Timber doors benefit from being occasionally sanded and refinished. Folding doors should have their tracks and carriages occasionally cleaned and lubricated.

A modern aluminium or uPVC door, on the other hand, requires very little in the way of maintenance. The former are powder-coated at factory level, while the latter are not designed to be painted at all; as such you can, for the most part, simply install your doors and forget about them.

When to Replace Patio Doors

white bifold patio doors

All of this poses the question: how long should a patio door last? Twenty years? Or thirty? The answer depends on a range of factors, including your available spending money, the state of the existing doors, and your personal taste.

There are, however, some warning signs which might indicate that it’s time to replace your doors. The most obvious of these is probably condensation forming in the space between the glass panels. This indicates that the seal has broken and that the thermal performance of your door is never going to be quite the same again. Similarly, the seal around the edge of your door might have worn to the point that it no longer excludes those pesky draughts. In this case, it might be possible to replace the seal rather than the entire door; on the other hand, when doors get into this state, it’s usually a good sign that they’re nearing the end of their lifespan anyway.

Another thing to watch out for is discolouration of uPVC doors, which might turn a strange shade of yellow when they’re exposed to direct sunlight for years on end. More important is mechanical wear-and-tear, which might lead to a security vulnerability. If you find that your door is no longer moving as it once did, then it might be time to secure a replacement. Remember to lubricate occasionally to maximise your door’s lifespan.

Of course, your decision to replace is going to be influenced by the cost of your replacement. So how much does it cost to replace patio doors, anyway? The answer depends on the size and complexity of the door. Sprawling bi-fold doors add considerable value to the home, but they come with a price-tag to match. A small set of French doors, on the other hand, can be purchased relatively inexpensively.

In Conclusion

A set of modern patio doors almost always represents a substantial upgrade over those of yesteryear. If you’ve noticed that your existing doors are starting to look a little worse for wear, then investing in a replacement will likely pay off in the long-term.

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