Long span patio doors are exactly what they sound like. They come in sliding and folding styles, and in a wide variety of different finishes and designs, but in the end they all perform the same function. Long span doors are multi-paneled exterior doors that can transform any room in your home into an extension of your patio, deck, or porch at the drop of a hat.
What Exactly Are Long Span Patio Doors?
Take a moment and imagine that the entire wall that separates your kitchen from your backyard deck could fold up like an accordion, disappear, and you could stand there cooking dinner at the kitchen island and more or less be outside. Now imagine that same feature in other rooms of the house. How about opening up the wall to your bedroom so you can watch the sunrise from bed? Or retracting the living room wall so that your living room space includes the pool deck and your swimming pool? Long span patio doors offer exactly that. They are multi-panel doors that can cover 8 to 24 foot spans, and retract either by folding flat like an accordion, or sliding open. Any way you slice it, these revolutionary new doors are changing how homeowners in milder climates think about openings to their outdoor areas.
How Do Long Span Patio Doors Work?
The two types of long span doors operate a little bit differently. The folding variety sits on a single track, and the door panels fold up onto each other until they lie flat against the sidewall of the opening. Sliding panel doors work a little bit differently. With sliding panel doors each panel sits on its own track (much like a sliding glass door) and the doors slide open side by side until they stop parallel to each other against the wall of the opening. The plus of sliding panel long span doors? They can be built as a pocket door, meaning the panels slide into a pocket in the wall at the end of track, hiding them altogether when the door is open.
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Do Long Span Patio Doors Keep Out the Weather?
The answer to this question depends on the quality of your door, your installer, and your climate. Because they cover such long openings, it's absolutely critical that they're installed correctly and that the track is plumb across the entire span. Failure to install the frame and track correctly can lead to leaky doors and doors that stick and don't open. Also, make sure you get a door that is rated for your climate. The same door that works fine for keeping out heat and dust down in Phoenix might not be built sturdy enough to hold back a tropical storm along the gulf coast. Talk to your contractor and door supplier to make sure your long span door is rated to handle whatever weather your climate might throw at you.
Installation of Long Span Patio Doors
Installing long span doors isn't a job for a do it yourselfer. As mentioned before, even the slightest variation across a long span frame will cause these doors to function poorly. In fact, in any installation wider than an 8 foot span it's recommended that you have the opening engineered to ensure you won't experience problems. That being said, most manufacturers of these doors claim that any competent contractor should be able to successfully install one of these doors in a day on their first try. That means that if you're interested in having someone evaluate your home for a long span patio door installation, contacting any trusted local contractor is a good place to start.