Welcome to our four-part patio door series, where we’ll break down everything you need to know about patio doors, from selection to installation. In this third installment, Jim Coshow and specialty window and door sales manager Keith Church discuss the best practices for choosing your next patio door.

In the first two parts of this series, we discussed what to consider before choosing a new patio door and what to consider before installing one. In this blog post, we’re outlining the best practices for actually ordering your new door, because spending extra time on the front end will help ensure you choose the best product for your home.

Visit a showroom

While the internet is great for research, nothing takes the place of going to a showroom. Investing time in visiting a showroom will give you hands-on experience with the products you are considering: You can swing or slide the display doors, see how the locking mechanisms work, and get a real-life feel for what it would be like if they were installed in your home. You can also look at screening options, consider different hardware styles, and evaluate any additional options or unique accessories. Similar to other shopping experiences, seeing your new door firsthand allows you to pick up on details that aren’t as apparent in a picture.

Connect with a specialist

The best part of going to a showroom is the opportunity to connect with a specialist who is trained on the products you’ll be looking at. Oftentimes, these specialists have extensive training at the factory level, which allows them to share information that might not be obvious to the average consumer. In addition, knowledgeable door specialists are able to draw on their past experiences with the products you’re considering. This allows them to share feedback on quality, performance, reliability, and general customer satisfaction.

Measure for your new patio door

Measuring correctly for your new door is very important, as it can mean the difference between a routine installation and a much more challenging scenario. If you’re hiring a contractor, this responsibility usually falls within their scope of work, but it’s a good idea to be on the same page with them as to how your new door will fit into the opening. Once you’ve committed to the process of buying and installing a new door, we recommend removing the interior trim pieces so you or your contractor can figure out the exact height and width of the existing rough opening. 

It’s also important to investigate the flooring where the new door will be installed. Are there multiple layers, and will that impact the height of the door you want to install? How will your flooring make a smooth (and safe) transition to the sill of your new door? Taking the time to address these items before you order your new door will lead to more satisfactory results.

Budget for your patio door

Like most home purchases, pricing for replacement patio doors can vary greatly. Choices range from the economical—like vinyl, sliding glass doors in common replacement sizes—to more modern scenic doors. Our best advice is to identify the exact rough opening you are working with (or are willing to create) so the salesperson assisting you can determine what options are best for you. Stock factory sizes are always the more affordable option, but special order sizes may be available for an additional charge.

Upgrading or installing a new patio door has many benefits: improved functionality, energy efficiency, additional light, and enhanced style. We hope this series is helpful as you evaluate your existing scenario and make plans to improve your home. For even more home improvement help, check out our guides on how to DIY a drywall patch, how to decide if you should repair or replace your historic windows, and how to maintain your deck. And don’t forget to check back in for the final segment in our patio door series.