Choose the Best Sliding Glass Doors for Your Home

Sliding glass doors may have first become popular in mild, tropical climates but today they’re common in homes all over the world. In addition to improving the connection between indoors and outside, glass doors act as large windows by increasing natural light and expanding views. Their wide openings are ideal for catching cool breezes and improving ventilation. Plus, they’re available in a wide range of materials, colors, and styles to match any type of architecture. 

Read on to learn about the different types of doors, most durable materials and energy-efficient features, so you can find the sliding glass door that’s right for your home and lifestyle.

Sliding Glass Door Styles

A sliding glass door is essentially a type of “patio door,” or a door with glass panels that creates a connection between the home and yard. Most people are familiar with the simplest sliding patio doors that have one fixed panel and one that slides on a track to open and close. Many include a screen door panel that lets air circulate while keeping insects out, and kids or pets inside. Sliding glass doors offer a distinct advantage over hinged patio doors because they use floor space more efficiently. For wide openings, sliding doors have additional panels and more sophisticated track systems.

Traditional Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass door from the Marvin Elevate CollectionSliding glass door from the Marvin Elevate Collection

We’re all familiar with basic sliding glass doors; they’re usually a two-panel design that has framed glass panels on a track, with one that slides horizontally alongside the other. For larger openings, a stationary panel or two might be added. Unlike inswing doors that take up interior room, the sliding door design increases the floor space available for furniture or foot traffic. Replacing a window with a sliding glass door makes a small room feel much bigger; in fact, this fairly simple project has become a popular DIY solution for homeowners.

Sliding French Doors

Marvin Signature Ultimate Sliding French DoorsMarvin Signature Ultimate Sliding French Doors

When a door has full-length glass and grids that resemble a traditional window, it’s known as a French Door. A sliding French door combines a modern sliding mechanism with the elegant decorative glass of traditional French doors. The glass door panels have wider stiles and rails, and typically have window grilles. Since they’re designed to evoke a historic look, sliding French patio doors typically have just two panels, although several pairs may be installed side by side to create a window wall.

Lift & Slide Glass Doors

Marvin Signature Ultimate Lift & Slide DoorMarvin Signature Ultimate Lift & Slide Door

A Lift & Slide door expands the sliding glass door design so it can be used on much wider openings. The term “Lift & Slide” describes a precise functionality that allows door panels to slide effortlessly with a simple pull. This unique sliding door mechanism carries several glass panels and stacks them neatly to one side. Features like recessed door sills and a wall pocket can fully conceal the open door to create a seamless indoor/outdoor transition. Lift & Slide doors are the ideal design solution for creating walls of glass that bring the outdoors in.

Multi-Slide Glass Doors

Marvin Signature Ultimate Multi-Slide DoorMarvin Signature Ultimate Multi-Slide Door

Multi-Slide doors have narrower frames and a unique stacking design that maximizes views. They have at least three panels, and often many more. When multi-slide doors are closed the frame of each panel overlaps the frame of the panel beside it, so the viewable area is larger. As they slide, the moving door panels align in a row to offer more flexibility in adjusting the opening width. Once they’re fully open the panels either stack side-by-side at the edge of the opening or tuck into a wall pocket. Some manufacturers offer push-button motorized operation for even easier operation. Multi-sliding glass doors are the ideal solution for very large openings or when homeowners want a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Optional features like recessed or flush sills and wall pockets are used on both Multi-Slide and Lift & Slide doors to create a seamless transition between indoors and out.

Marvin Ultimate Multi-Slide Door with recessed sill

With such a wide variety of sliding glass door types, there’s a door design for almost any architectural style. Whether it’s new construction or a home improvement project, sliding glass doors increase the connection between indoor and outdoor spaces in a beautiful way. You can learn even more about sliding glass doors by checking out The 6 Best Types Of Sliding Glass Doors.

The Best Materials For Sliding Glass Doors

Today’s sliding glass doors are far superior to the old aluminum or wood versions. Made from more durable materials, they’re engineered to be low maintenance while maximizing weather-resistance and improving security. An extensive range of colors and materials make it easy to customize their appearance. When selecting sliding glass doors, you’ll choose from the following materials:


Marvin Signature Ultimate Sliding French Door with aluminum-clad exteriorMarvin Signature Ultimate Sliding French Door with aluminum-clad exterior

Aluminum is a durable material that’s very low maintenance and 100% recyclable. Sliding glass doors are often made from solid aluminum, but aluminum cladding is also used to protect the exterior of wood sliding glass doors. Aluminum door frames are long-lasting and available in a wide range of finishes with superior color retention. 


Fiberglass sliding glass door from the Marvin Elevate CollectionFiberglass sliding glass door from the Marvin Elevate Collection

High-density fiberglass is a high-performance window and door frame material. It’s impact-resistant, more rigid than vinyl and exceptionally energy efficient. Since fiberglass expands and contracts at virtually the same rate as glass, it creates a very stable glass door frame. It’s even available in dark colors that can resist chalking or fading. Fiberglass sliding doors withstand harsh climates and will maintain their appearance for many years with very little maintenance. 

Marvin makes sliding glass patio doors (as well as swinging doors and bifold doors) from its premium composite material, Ultrex® fiberglass. To learn more about fiberglass materials, check out our guide to the benefits of fiberglass windows and doors.


Marvin’s Ultimate Sliding Patio Door in wood with aluminum exterior claddingMarvin’s Ultimate Sliding Patio Door in wood with aluminum exterior cladding

Wood is a renewable resource that provides natural insulation; it’s actually more energy efficient than aluminum or vinyl. When modern paint coatings and sealants are used, wood is a durable choice for sliding glass door frames. Many homeowners choose wood frames because of the wide range of custom stains or paint colors available. Door manufacturers like Marvin use a multi-step paint or stain process that’s baked on to create high-performance finishes that last. Optional exterior cladding in fiberglass or aluminum also prevents warping and reduces maintenance. Solid wood sliding glass doors remain a popular choice because they offer so many finish options. Just like swinging doors, they can be designed to suit almost any architectural style.


Marvin Infinity Replacement Sliding Glass DoorMarvin Infinity Replacement Sliding Glass Door

Vinyl sliding glass doors are an affordable patio door option; they’re available in standard sizes that can help speed up a home renovation. Vinyl doors are typically either white or beige because more colorful vinyl fades very easily. Vinyl also has a shorter lifespan than other materials because of warping in hot temperatures.

Sliding Glass Door Design Options

High-end manufacturers like Marvin make it easy for homeowners to customize sliding glass doors with options like French door grilles, unique configurations, and built-in blinds. They offer a wide range of interior and exterior door finishes, including custom stain and paint colors.

To learn more about different door styles and materials, check out our Buyer’s Guide To Marvin Doors.

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Energy-Efficient Glazing

Energy-efficiency is a very important factor to consider when choosing new doors. On an existing home, replacing old patio doors will instantly make your house more energy efficient.

Marvin Signature Ultimate Sliding Patio DoorsMarvin Signature Ultimate Sliding Patio Doors

Modern doors and windows have superior engineering and use new, weather-resistant materials like fiberglass. Today's high-performance sliding glass doors offer double-glazing and special coatings that protect the interiors from heat and cold transfer. As you shop for new sliding glass doors, there are several energy-efficiency options to consider:

Marvin Sliding Glass Doors At Ring’s End

Are you building a home or renovating? You’ll love Marvin’s extensive selection of designer door options – and their uncompromising quality. Choose among four high-quality collections and a range of price points, each with an industry-leading warranty.

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Sliding Glass Door FAQs

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