Find The Best Sliding Doors For Your Patio or Home: Buyer’s Guide


Sliding patio doors are increasingly popular, and it can be stressful finding the best sliding doors for a home improvement project. It’s often worth it though!

SD20 - the best sliding doors

What Are Sliding Doors?

Black sliding glass doors

Sliding doors move horizontally along a track and typically consist of one fixed and one movable panel. This design saves space, as no additional room is needed for door arcs (such as with bifold doors or French doors). Commonly, sliding doors connect indoor spaces to patios or gardens, making them suitable for areas where space is limited, such as opening onto a patio from open-plan kitchens or living rooms.

History and Evolution

The concept of sliding doors dates back centuries, with early versions found in Japan and other parts of Asia. Designs have evolved since then, of course, with contemporary sliding doors offering advanced materials, improved security features, better energy efficiency. Today, sliding doors are a staple in modern architecture, valued for their clean lines and versatility.

One notable trend is the use of minimalist frames (slim sightlines) and large panes of glass to take advantage of natural light and outdoor views. This design choice is particularly popular in homes aiming for a sleek, contemporary look, allowing sunlight to flood the interior spaces and providing an unobstructed view – creating a “glass wall” effect.

Benefits of Sliding Doors

Space-Saving Design

Slide doors open along a track, conserving space compared to hinged doors like French or bi-fold doors. This makes them ideal for small rooms, compact apartments, and areas where floor space is crucial. For example, in an open-plan kitchen, sliding doors help maintain a spacious feel while providing easy outdoor access. The simple mechanism allows for a very narrow frame and tall, wide panes of glass, making large sliding external doors a great choice for large openings.

Sliding glass doors also help let more natural light in your home. Large glass panels allow sunlight to enter, reducing the need for artificial lighting. This is especially useful in dimly lit rooms. Installing sliding glass doors in a south-facing living room can brighten the room throughout the day.

Improved Access to Outdoor Areas

Sliding patio doors make accessing outdoor areas like patios and gardens easier. They create a wide opening, for example providing direct access to an outdoor dining area, which is ideal for families who enjoy outdoor meals.

Look for low or flush threshold patio doors to eliminate any potential trip hazards and improve accessibility further, for wheelchair users or the elderly.

Aluminium corner sliding doors showing easy access to outdoors

Types of Sliding Doors

Traditional Sliding Doors

Traditional sliding patio doors have a straightforward design with one fixed panel and one or more movable panels that slide along a track. This simple mechanism makes them reliable and easy to maintain. Traditional slide doors are perfect for homes with patios or gardens. For instance, installing them in a modern home with an open-plan kitchen can create a direct connection to the garden, ideal for families who enjoy outdoor dining or hosting garden parties.

Pocket Sliding Glass Doors

Pocket sliding doors are designed to disappear into a compartment within the wall when opened, saving valuable floor space and creating a clean, unobtrusive look. This feature is particularly useful in smaller homes or flats where every inch of space matters. For example, in a compact flat, pocket sliding glass doors can be used to separate the kitchen from the living room, allowing the kitchen to be closed off when needed without taking up extra space. Choosing a finish that matches the wall colour helps maintain a cohesive and uncluttered appearance. Light-coloured doors can make small spaces feel larger and more open, contributing to a more comfortable living environment.

Materials Used in Sliding Doors

Modern sliding patio doors are available in various materials, including uPVC, aluminium, timber, and composites. The best sliding glass doors for one project may differ to another; each type of sliding door provides unique benefits that can be tailored to fit specific needs and design preferences.

White slimline sliding doors in a living room area


uPVC (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) is a popular material for patio doors due to its durability and low maintenance, and is a great affordable option. It doesn’t warp or rot, making it suitable for exterior use. Additionally, uPVC offers good thermal performance, which can help reduce energy bills. In suburban homes, uPVC sliding doors are often used for backdoors leading to gardens, as they can withstand harsh weather conditions with minimal upkeep. The current trend for anthracite grey uPVC frames adds a sleek, contemporary edge to home exteriors. Combining these frames with a modern interior design scheme featuring cool tones and minimalist décor can create a cohesive and stylish look.


Timber sliding doors offer a classic and warm aesthetic, making them a popular choice for traditional and rustic homes. However, they may not make the best patio doors for all homes: timber requires more maintenance to protect it from moisture and pests. Light oak finishes are currently popular, blending well with both traditional and modern interiors. In country cottages, timber sliding doors can create a natural, cosy feel. Regularly treating timber doors with a protective sealant helps maintain their appearance and durability, ensuring they remain a beautiful and functional feature of the home.


Aluminium sliding patio doors are known for their strength and slim profiles, allowing for larger glass panels that bring in more sunlight. This material is also rust-resistant and requires minimal maintenance, making it ideal for exterior doors exposed to the elements. In new-build properties, aluminium sliding doors are often used to create wide openings to patios, offering panoramic views and easy access to outdoor areas. Aluminium patio doors can be easily customised, with a wide range of colours and finishes to choose from. Black aluminium frames are currently trending in modern homes, providing a bold contrast against light or neutral walls. This combination works well in industrial-style interiors with exposed brick walls and metal fixtures.

Composite Materials

Composite patio doors are an alternative option, combining the benefits of multiple materials, such as the durability of aluminium and the thermal efficiency of uPVC. These doors are durable, low-maintenance, and energy-efficient, making them a balanced solution for many homeowners. In coastal homes, composite doors are particularly advantageous as they can withstand harsh weather conditions while maintaining a stylish appearance. Choosing composite doors with a wood-effect finish allows homeowners to enjoy the aesthetic appeal of timber without the high maintenance requirements, offering a practical and attractive option for various architectural styles.

Energy Efficiency and Insulation

When choosing sliding doors, energy efficiency is a crucial consideration. Double glazing is a common option, featuring two layers of glass with an insulating space between them. This helps keep homes warm in winter and cool in summer. For homes in particularly cold areas, such as northern England, triple glazing, which includes an additional glass layer, might be a better option for some due to its superior insulation and soundproofing capabilities.

Low-E glass, with its special coating, reflects heat back into the room during winter and keeps it out during summer. This can be particularly beneficial for south-facing homes that get a lot of sunlight. For instance, a family living in such a home might choose Low-E glass for their patio doors to enjoy natural light without worrying about excessive heat.

Another important feature is thermal breaks, especially in aluminium frames. These non-conductive sections prevent heat transfer. Imagine a modern home with large aluminium sliding slimline doors; incorporating thermal breaks ensures that the home remains energy efficient while maintaining a sleek design.

Security Features of Sliding Doors

Security is a significant concern for sliding doors, and various lock options can improve safety. Multi point locking systems, which engage at multiple points along the frame, offer robust protection, making them ideal for city homes where security is paramount. In addition to locks, reinforced glass, such as tempered or laminated glass, can add an extra layer of security. For example, a family with young children might prefer laminated glass, which holds together even when shattered, preventing injuries from broken glass.

Further security can be achieved with additional measures like security bars and alarms. Installing a security bar across the sliding door track is a simple but effective way to prevent the door from being forced open. This added measure can provide homeowners with extra peace of mind.

Choosing the Best Sliding Patio Doors for Your Home

When choosing sliding exterior doors, it’s essential to think about your home’s style and specific needs. For instance, if you live in a contemporary home, sleek aluminium sliding doors with large glass panels can create modern look and let in plenty of natural light. These doors not only look stylish but also create a bright and airy atmosphere in your living space.

Accurate measurements are crucial for a proper fit. Measuring the height and width at multiple points can help account for any variations in the opening. This is particularly important in older homes, where walls and door openings might not be perfectly square. Imagine replacing old wooden doors with new sliding ones in a Victorian terrace; careful measuring ensures the new doors fit seamlessly, preserving the home’s charm.

Customisation options abound, allowing you to tailor your patio doors to your taste. For example, selecting a matte black finish for the frames can add a bold touch to a minimalist interior. On the other hand, brushed nickel handles might suit a more classic feel. Personalising these colour options and details helps integrate the doors with the rest of your home.

Our pick for the best patio doors

Installation Process

Professional installation of patio doors ensures they are fitted correctly and function smoothly. This process usually begins with preparing the opening, which might involve removing old doors and ensuring the space is clean and level. For example, in a kitchen renovation, installing sliding patio doors to the garden can create a perfect spot for summer breakfasts, provided they slide effortlessly and are well-aligned, with a level threshold.

One common issue with DIY installation is misaligned tracks, leading to doors that stick or don’t seal properly. Such problems can result in drafts or security concerns. Professional installers have the expertise to avoid these pitfalls, ensuring your doors operate smoothly and securely.

Maintenance and Care Tips

Keeping your sliding glass doors in good shape requires regular maintenance. Start with cleaning the glass and frames using a soft cloth and mild detergent to prevent dirt build-up. For example, if your patio doors open onto a garden, frequent use can lead to grime accumulating on the tracks, which can hinder smooth operation. A clean track is essential for easy movement.

Lubrication is another key task. Applying a silicone-based lubricant to the tracks and rollers ensures they remain smooth and functional. In a busy household, where doors are constantly being opened and closed, regular lubrication can prevent wear and tear. Think of it as oiling a bike chain – it keeps everything moving smoothly.

Sometimes, issues like sticking doors or faulty locks can arise. Addressing these problems promptly can prevent them from becoming more serious. For instance, if you notice your doors are starting to stick, checking the tracks for debris and ensuring they are aligned can often solve the problem. Similarly, a lock that isn’t working might just need a bit of cleaning or a minor adjustment.

Cost and Budget Considerations

When planning for sliding glass doors, consider both the initial costs and the long-term savings. The price of sliding doors varies widely based on the material and design. For example, uPVC doors are generally more affordable, while aluminium and timber options can be pricier.

While DIY might seem cheaper, professional installation ensures the doors are properly fitted, which can prevent issues down the line.

Whilst in general, energy efficient sliding patio doors cost more, they may save you money longer-term (not to mention the environment!). Look for products with a low “U-value” – the larger the number, the more heat is lost through the doors and the higher your heating costs.

If you consider the looks, material, installation, and energy efficiency, and request quotes from multiple providers, you should be able to select the best patio doors for your needs.

How Much Do Sliding Patio Doors Cost?

The cost of sliding doors varies. Materials play a big role in determining price. uPVC sliding doors are typically the most budget-friendly, with prices starting at around £1500 including installation for a small opening (2 to 3 metres). Aluminium doors are somewhat more expensive, starting around £2000 including installation. Large sliding patio doors are available for opening sizes of up to 10 metres by 3 metres or more – expect to pay £5000 to £10000+, especially if made-to-measure ones are required or you have unique structural needs. The thermal performance is even more important with larger installations, because the area of glass is higher. Sliding glass doors with larger frames are typically much more affordable than the slimmest ultra slim sliding doors, although for many the visual appeal of slimline sliding doors makes the extra cost worthwhile.

Customisation options, such as the type of glass used (e.g., double glazed or triple glazed) and additional features like Low-E glass, can also affect the price. For instance, opting for triple glazing might increase the initial cost, but it offers better insulation and energy savings in the long run.

Installation costs should also be included in your budget. Professional installation can add several hundred pounds to the overall cost, but it ensures the doors are fitted correctly and function smoothly. For example, professional installation for a standard set of sliding doors might cost between £200 and £1000, depending on the complexity of the job. Many manufacturers and suppliers of glass doors and windows provide free installation.

The Best Slimline Sliding Doors

Vision Glass Doors is a designer, manufacturer, and installer of premium door systems. We are a family run business with over 20 years’ experience and 5,000 installations across the UK.

Our leading range of door systems include Ultra Slim – Slide and Turn Doors, Slimline Sliding Patio Doors and Frameless Glass Doors. Suitable for various internal and external applications, they are applicable to residential and commercial projects.

Please contact us for a quotation or further information.

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