A glass sliding door or patio door, a type of sliding door in architecture and construction, is a large glass window opening in a structure that provide door access from a room to the outdoors, fresh air, and copious natural light. A sliding glass door is usually considered a single unit consisting of two panel sections, one being fixed and one a being mobile to slide open. Another design, a wall sized glass pocket door has one or more panels’ movable and sliding into wall pockets, completely disappearing for a ‘wide open’ indoor-outdoor room experience.
The glass sliding door was introduced as a significant element of pre-war International style architecture in Europe and North America. Their precedent is the sliding Shōji and Fusuma panel door in traditional Japanese architecture. The post-war building boom in modernist and Mid-century modern styles and on to suburban ranch-style tract houses, multi-unit housing, and hotel-motel chains has made them a standard element in residential and hospitality building construction in many regions and countries.
Design Options of Glass Sliding Door
Traditional – The traditional sliding doors design has two panel sections, one fixed-stationary and one mobile to slide open. The actual sliding door is a movable rectangular framed sheet of window glass that is mounted parallel to a similar and often fixed similarly framed neighboring glass partition. The movable panel slides in a fixed track usually, and in its own plane parallel to the neighboring stationary panel.
A specialty form, for Washitsu or “Japanese-style rooms,” creates sliding Shōji and Fusuma panel doors, with traditional materials for interior uses and contemporary adaptations for exterior exposure and uses. They are used in themed and contemporary restaurants, residences, Japanese garden tea houses, and other situations. Specialty manufacturers are located in Japan and Western countries.
Disappearing – Another sliding doors design, glass pocket doors has all the glass panels sliding completely into open-wall pockets, totally disappearing for a wall-less ‘wide open’ indoor-outdoor room experience. This can include corner window walls, for even more blurring of the inside-outside open space distinction. Two story versions are often electronically opened, using remote controls. For wide expanses the opening point is centered, and three to six parallel tracks are used to carry the six to twelve sliding doors into the wall pockets on each side. Their recent popularity, shelter magazine coverage, and technical and structural innovations, has brought many options to market.
Trackless and disappearing – A third sliding doors design has all the glass panels suspended from above, leaving a trackless and uninterrupted floor plane. They also disappear into side pockets. On final closure they slightly drop down to create a weatherproof seal. A German manufacturer developed the original technology, and their use is predominantly in temperate climates.
The Ultimate of Glass Sliding Door
Glass in the doors can be either externally fitted or internally fitted, with internally fitted being the high security design, depending on the specification the manufacturer implements in the design. To comply with energy conservation codes and for noise reduction, sliding glass doors are usually double glazed, and often treated for UV reflection. They usually have no mullions, unless attempting to appear part of a revival architectural style, and then often using ‘snap on’ faux grids.
Security design in the doors is aimed at preventing the doors both fixed and sliding from being lifted of their rails, fitting anti-lift blocks can be fixed to the top of the frame to prevent the lift of the door off its rails, so in theory preventing unauthorized entry to the room when sliding door is in the closed position. A portable security bar can also be fitted from the inside the room to prevent sliding action when door is closed. The adjustable security bar can also be used for added security when traveling.
Sliding glass doors are popular in southern Europe and throughout the United States, being used in: hotel rooms, condominiums, apartments, and residences; for access to upper balconies; for large views out – enhanced natural light in; and to increase incoming fresh air. In addition Sliding glass doors are commonly used in some regions as doors between the interior rooms of a home and a courtyard, deck, balcony, patio, and a garden, backyard, barbecue or swimming pool area. They are often called Patio doors in this context. Glass sliding door is also used in interior design, often in offices and automobile sales areas, to give soundproof but visually accessible private office space. In residential interiors they are used, often with translucent ‘frosted’ glass replicating a traditional Shōji door, to allow daylight to penetrate further into the dwelling and expand the sense of interior spatial size.