Bringing the Outdoors In

Bringing the Outdoors In

Take advantage of our California climate
By: Andrew Shore, Sea Pointe Construction


With summer in full swing and people celebrating the wonderful weather here in Southern California, many homeowners are interested in bringing the outdoors in with a bi-folding door system. To help expand your indoor/outdoor experience with a door system, we’ve put together a list of things to consider, as well as the design process you can expect.

There are multiple things to consider when thinking about designing a door system into your home, such as the type of door, interior and exterior space allowances, investment, door finish materials, and glass options. Let’s start with door options:

Low-Profile Patio Doors – A standard patio door with narrow stiles allows for more space than typical French or sliding glass doors. Patio doors will be the most cost-effective option, yet the door function will still be a basic slider for French door layout.

Folding Outswing Doors – Also known as bi-folding doors, these multi-panel doors open from one side of an opening and are pushed back to the opposite side to be perpendicular to the wall on which they are on. Folding door systems can either be top mounted or bottom mounted. The advantages of top-mounted systems are the high quality, the robust panel and frame designs, the effortless opening operation, and the ability to span any size opening. A bottom-mounted system is a great budget-friendly option, but beware: the hardware may not be as durable and the bottom tracks can build up debris, making it difficult to open the sliding mechanisms smoothly.

Multi-Slide Systems – The upgraded version of the standard patio slider, multi-slide systems have multiple panels that slide to one side of the wall. This is a creative solution to get you the openness you desire when exterior space for the doors may be limited.

Pocket Slide Systems – This multi-slide system has glass door panels that disappear into a side wall, hiding the doors altogether for a seamless indoor/outdoor experience. A gorgeous option, but you must have the appropriate wall space to house the doors to the left or right of the opening.

The first things to think about when deciding which doors to go with are the space you have to work with and the investment you are willing to make. The most cost-effective solution will be to keep the existing door opening and replace your current door with either a low-profile patio door or a bottom-mounted bi-folding door. A bottom-mounted bi-folding door may help eliminate the need for the sometimes costly structural engineering required for top-mounted systems; however, the advantages to the top-mounted system may outweigh your desire to save a bit of dough.

When looking at the space you have to work with, you need to think through a few scenarios. For example, if you go with a folding, outswing door system, do you have 4 to 5 feet of clearance space outside the door without obstructing a walkway? Is there a window next to your current French or sliding glass doors? If so, you may want to consider eliminating the window to create additional space for the new door system opening or for a pocket sliding system.

Investment is obviously an important topic of conversation. Door systems can range from $3,500 for a basic, 6-foot opening to upward of $40,000 if you are considering a 15- to 20-foot-wide opening with large structural changes. The cost for a door system comprises two parts: the door and the installation.

Your choice of door materials, such as vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum or wood clad, as well as the type of glass, will affect the price of the door. Will direct sunlight be an issue? If so, you may want to consider solar protective glass that will prevent any floor or furniture discoloration. The cost of installation will be determined by the complexity of what needs to be done structurally, and each home is different.

If you’re exploring the idea of incorporating a door system, have a professional come see what you have to work with. This in-home visit will help your contractor envision the possibilities and determine whether structural work will be required. To avoid a surprise, be prepared for structural work to be involved. Structural work does not need to be scary or overwhelming, as a good contractor will take care of it all for you.

Since almost all door systems are made to order, you can expect a 6- to 12-week lead time. This is a great time to get homeowner association approval, if necessary, and obtain building permits through your city. Your contractor should submit the engineering, if necessary, and pull your permits for you.

Door systems create a dramatic design effect and are changing the way we live in our homes. Take advantage of living in Orange County, and bring the outdoors in!

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