Folding Patio Doors (Types & Design Guide)

Wide folding patio door with curtains leading to backyard

It doesn’t matter if you are building a whole new home from scratch or are currently updating or remodeling an existing one. The thing is, when it gets to the point wherein you need to decide on what type of patio doors to go for, you’re on for a bit of a surprise; and not always the good kind. 

There are so many different designs and styles to choose from. If you don’t have a background in it, you will find it difficult. Most people would normally emphasize the materials this door type is made of. 

This fixture can be made from vinyl, wood, aluminum, or even fiberglass frames. The thing is, they don’t affect the construction stage. You don’t have to make this decision early in construction.

You can choose from the different types out in the market. There are so many out there. There are pivot, French sliding, vertical, stacking, and even corner folding patio doors. Remember that your preference will reign supreme here above all others. [toc]

Types Of Folding Patio Doors

Modern house with gravel patio and firepit

Here are the different types to look out for:


Bedroom with folding accordion doors for indoor outdoor living

This type is also nicknamed as bi-fold patio doors. They stack together outwards, or inwards, or at times, even on themselves. 

The accordion type functions in almost the same way that the stacking sliding variant does. The only difference is that the former folds over and stacks vertically, similar to the accordion music instrument. Meanwhile, the latter hangs parallel in front of the first one. 

They are currently considered the highest-selling type of door. Each panel folds and stacks on top of each other. These are panels that you can easily tuck away on the side. 

They can fold outwards or inwards, depending on your preference and space requirements. They can be made up of only two panels or up to eight. They can create the illusion of space without any structural changes. These can be energy efficient if you opt for doors made out of double-glazed glass.

Fold Out Doors

Backyard gravel dining patio with brick border

They are also called outswing folding doors. When they are open, the moving glass walls can frame up, beautifully framing your view. When they are closed, they provide a wall of light that extends its aesthetics to your interior space. They can open from the center, left, or right. 

Again, it all boils down to preference and structural ease. These also come with top-hung systems that make the operation quite easy. This door works great if you have ample space either inside your house or outside of it, depending on where the doors fold out.

Tri Fold Doors

Stamped concrete patio with firepit and indoor outdoor living room

They’re basically the same thing as bi-fold patio doors, except that they have more stacks or layers. They are typically comprised of two panels. 

As the name suggests, they are made up of three panels instead of two. They also stack vertically on top of each other and can make for very space-efficient patio door options.

3 Panel Door

Backyard with outdoor kitchen canopy cover and patio folding door

They have three panels and one of them is the operable portion or part. It can be sliding or hinged, depending on what your operable preference is. 

Normally, side panels are the preferred choice of operation for most homeowners out there. But if you are working with a limited space, you can definitely opt for the sliding version. 

They are perfect for smaller patios where four panels normally won’t fit. It lets natural lighting in and provides great ventilation. 

The frames can also be customized to fit the color and décor of the home. So if you want to go with a bolder or livelier design, this option will definitely let you do that.

Two-Panel Doors

Large house with folding patio door and outdoor furniture

Two-panel folding patio doors are great because they offer advanced locking systems. They are usually made out of energy-efficient glass. Also, they can maximize natural lighting within your home while increasing its airflow. 

As the name suggests, they are comprised of two large glass panels. They let plenty of light into your home, making it energy efficient. There is no need to switch the lights on during the day. 

Those savings on your electricity can stack up nicely, so that’s another advantage from getting this option. Airflow and circulation can definitely be on the upside, too. 

Folding Sliding Doors

Sliding folding patio door with large windows and outdoor furniture

Folding sliding patio doors make for easier transitions from inside your home to outside of it. They allow the widest openings and can actually fold all the way up to the wall. 

These systems can come in a wide variety of configurations, from seven to eight feet tall doors to nine to 18 feet wide. There are those that provide easy access, while others come in much taller configurations. 

Pricing can vary greatly based on customizations. You will want to figure out how wide your opening will be and whether or not they fit into the standard heights and widths or whether you need something more customized.

Read more about our ultimate guide on the different types of sliding doors here.

Folding French Doors

Dining room with french doors to patio

They are basically hinged doors with glass panels. They are one of the most preferred alternatives to sliding glass types in the event that cost and functionality don’t factor in.

They can come in contemporary designs or even traditional ones. It really all depends on the pane design that you would like to go for. 

Folding French door exteriors provide decorative and highly coveted elements to your outdoor structure. They go far beyond just beauty, though. 

They can swing inwards or outwards. You can go for in-swing ones if you have a bigger outdoor area and you don’t want to take any patio space away. 

This is ideal if your home has large interiors but smaller patio space. On the other hand, out-swing folding French door types are great for when you don’t want to encroach on your interior space, as they can be limited.

Read more about our ultimate guide on French doors here.

Folding Door Materials

Folding patio door with stone fireplace and outdoor furniture

Understanding the materials used for this door type will greatly impact your convenience and comfort as a homeowner. Here are some of the best that you need to be in the know of:

Wood. It’s natural, classic, and makes for a timeless appearance. Wood is very low maintenance as any scratches on it can be easily repaired and oftentimes in small parts. 

Regardless of the type of weather your house may be located in, wood is known to be more durable compared to other materials. This is true, especially if treated and maintained well. 

Wooden options bring in ageless aesthetics. If you’re a fan of traditional beauty, then this is a material you need to look out for.

Aluminum. This material is extremely reliable and sturdy. It can give your patio a very unique view and can create a really great overall appearance. 

In terms of structural strength, it is at the top of its game. It’s also quite low maintenance as it doesn’t corrode, and is quite resistant to scratches and decay. More than that, aluminum is quite lightweight so ease of use can turn out to be a breeze.

Fiberglass. This option is exceptionally energy-efficient as it has been known to keep the temperature in. This means that you will have a lot to save in terms of energy costs. 

They are durable and are best to be used for homes that are prone to harsh weather as they are resistant to it. They don’t really fade or warp or change in appearance over time.

Vinyl. Vinyl is one of the most common materials used as they are rated first in terms of energy efficiency. They are known to be very resistant to varying types of temperatures.

Vinyl is also rarely affected by sudden or eventual changes of temperature on the exteriors of the house. They are less expensive compared to the other door materials. To top it all off, with the proper frames, they can look attractive as well.

Steel. If you want to go for something sturdy and durable for your patio door frames, then steel is something you need to consider. It has the ability to withstand harsh weather conditions. Moreover, it is actually less expensive compared to other materials. 

It doesn’t crack or decay as often as the others do and enjoys higher durability overall. A word of caution though, steel door types require more maintenance in terms of regular painting to prevent rust. 

They can also be less stylish compared to the other materials. But if you’ve got your eyes set on durability, then this material is worth noting.

Glass Doors

Covered patio with glass folding doors

They will not only give you a great view. They can also allow immense amounts of light to stream in as well. 

It gives your home the illusion of extra footage without spending way too much money on it. It operates quite simply. With the proper care and maintenance, folding glass patio doors can last you for years. 

One thing that really make them stand out is that they offer the luxury of opening the space all the way up. In comparison, sliding types can only open for up to 65% of the space.

Aluminum Doors

Modern patio with exterior metal french doors

Aluminum door types are slightly more expensive compared to uPVC types, but they last longer. In the long run, they will turn out to be the better investment. They are also cheaper than timber. 

This material is very strong and when coated properly, can easily last you for decades. It requires very little maintenance, too. 

It doesn’t warp due to weather conditions, which makes it last longer than timber or uPVC. Because it’s strong, you can afford to get thin frames.

This door style provides you with a wider view of your patio. They can also come in a lot of different colors and designs, some even mimicking the look of natural wood.

uPVC Doors

Living room with ocean view and high ceiling with door to outdoor patio

This is an extremely popular material. uPVC is extremely versatile. It effectively insulates, which can keep the heat in and the cold out. 

It can also easily complement any style in the home, from modern to traditional. It’s pretty easy to clean up and requires zero maintenance all year round. 

Door Prices

House with folding patio door stone walls water pond and outdoor furniture

Folding patio doors normally range from around $800 to $1,200 or upwards per linear square foot. This, of course, depends on a lot of other things.

Some of these factors include the number of panels you’ll get, the material, door opening size, finish, and glass options, among others. Read more about sizes in our guide on sliding door dimensions.

What Are Folding Panel Doors

White house with folding patio door ceiling fan and outdoor furniture

So, what exactly are folding panel doors? They’re basically doors with large glass panes, and they both connect and separate outdoor and indoor living spaces while, at the same time, allowing natural light to funnel into the house.

Its main purpose is to create an outdoor-indoor experience that smoothly melds together. This is quite a popular, sought-after concept in modern housing. To see other types of patios see our gallery page here.

Folding Door Design Considerations

Patio with wood exterior french doors and outdoor dining table

Folding patio doors facilitate movement and provide ease of access to the backyard. They also provide a great amount of natural light, which can create an illusion of a larger living space. They can be turned into decorative implements if the materials chosen are fancier than usual.

Aesthetics isn’t the only thing to be considered when picking this door type.  You need to understand that they will be one of the most used fixtures in your home. 

This is particularly true for homeowners who are fond of hosting get-togethers and other parties or events in the home. Convenience is another factor you ought to take a look at when picking out a suitable door type. 

Another big decision you need to mark out is how big of a door you actually want. You can go all out and turn an entire wall in your home into a patio door. 

You also need to consider that it might get overly hot in the summer and way too cold in the winter. Hence, you will need options that are energy efficient.

Multiple patio doors around the house may also bring in a visual appeal. At the same time, they might present some safety risks for the home as it doesn’t make it very secure.

Even if you are working on a replacement, you don’t always have to get them in the exact same style.

Existing structures can accommodate a lot of door styles with minor changes. You need to look into the ease of use, how the design works well with your interiors and exteriors, whether space utilization is optimal, how much natural light it lets in, and so much more. 

Which Is Better, Folding Or Sliding Doors?

Modern concrete patio with glass folding door window wall rattan furniture and grass area

It can be fully opened. If this is your basis for what constitutes a great patio door, then this option wins straightaway. They can be folded back, entirely opening the space up. This adds a wow factor to your home that sliding types can’t really do. Sliding doors usually open up to 65 percent to the left or right.

Flexibility. Sliding door types win at this. They offer greater control as you can control if you want to open only an inch to let a slight breeze in or open it up altogether. This isn’t a luxury you can get with folding doors as they’re dictated by the size of the panels they’re comprised of. 

Glass to frame ratio. Although folding doors can be pulled all the way back, making the openings huge and impressive, nothing quite beats the glass-to-frame ratio offered by sliding doors as they have fewer frames and can make the outdoors visible without ever having to open them up.

See more related content at our article about enclosed patio ideas on this page.

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