Which Patio Door Material is Best for My Home?

Updated July 13, 2021
White patio doors open
irina88w / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

If you want your patio doors to look and perform their best for years to come, then you need to choose the best material for home and climate

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

It doesn’t get much better than closing out a sultry summer day with a nice, cool glass of lemonade in your hand as you watch the sunset from your backyard patio. But that picture of the American dream can quickly fade if you have to pass through a stained, rotting, sticking, or warping patio door to get back into your house.

A well-designed and well-maintained patio doesn’t only mean good times and great memories for your family, though. If you want to preserve the look, feel, function, and value of your patio, then you’ll want to be selective with your patio door materials. 

When it comes time to install your new doors, you’ll have a range of options to choose from, including wood, vinyl, steel, aluminum, and fiberglass. And to figure out which material is best for your home, you’ll also have lots of factors to consider, from aesthetics to durability to cost.

Wood

When it comes to classic elegance, you can’t get much better than wood patio doors. Wood doors come in distinctive finishes and lend a touch of traditional grace to your exterior.

The downside, though, is that you’re going to pay more for all these perks. Wood patio doors tend to cost significantly more up-front than other materials. They can also be less energy efficient, which can boost your heating and cooling bills. 

You may also find yourself doing significantly more upkeep. Because it’s a natural material, your wood doors will be especially vulnerable to weather. Moisture can warp wood-based patio doors, and extended exposure to sunlight and heat can cause the wood to fade.

However, you can usually repair your wood doors with relative ease. Stains and superficial scratches can generally be taken care of with just a bit of sanding and refinishing.

Steel

If sturdiness with style sounds more your speed, then you might consider steel for your patio doors. True, they may not have quite the old-world charm of wood doors, but they can withstand even the most brutal of weather conditions. No matter what Mother Nature throws at them, they won’t bow or warp like wood doors.

Another perk of steel doors is that they cost less and are easier to maintain than wood. And steel doors also insulate better than wood. 

On the downside, though, steel doors can rust if they get scratched, dented, or if protective layers of paint peel off. Because metal conducts temperature, these doors can get very hot or cold, depending on the weather. Even a layer of protective paint might not protect unwary hands on inclement days.

If you can’t decide between wood or steel, consider clad-wood patio doors. These wooden doors have a layer of metal on their exterior. Clad-wood patio doors are expensive, but they provide the aesthetics of wood doors with the minimal upkeep of metal.

Aluminum Patio Doors

Aluminum patio doors have many of the same perks that steel does. They can withstand the elements and require minimal upkeep. 

Aluminum patio doors are even lighter than their steel counterparts. Score one for aluminum over steel!

Like steel, aluminum doors won’t blow your remodeling budget. They’re usually reasonably priced and relatively energy efficient.

But even superheroes have their Achilles heel. Aluminum doors have many of the same issues as steel, but worse. Since these doors are lighter than steel patio doors, they accumulate dents more easily. And, although aluminum doors resist corrosion, scratches, and dents, breakdowns in the protective layers can cause big problems.

Open patio doors
Image Source / Image Source via Getty Images

Vinyl

Like Muzak in an elevator, it seems that you can’t escape vinyl in home materials these days. But, unlike Muzak, it’s not hard to understand why vinyl is such a popular choice among homeowners.

When it comes to affordability, durability, and energy efficiency, you pretty much can’t beat a vinyl patio door. These well-rounded doors can withstand the most punishing weather conditions without flaking, peeling, or rusting.

And they look good, too. Vinyl doors come in a seemingly endless variety of styles, meaning you probably won’t have trouble finding that lovely vinyl door that matches your home’s trim perfectly.

But don’t break out the ticker-tape just yet. Vinyl doors do have their shortcomings. First, extreme temperature shifts can potentially cause cracks in the vinyl. Second, vinyl can be more flammable than some other patio door materials. Still, both of these issues are relatively minor compared with the benefits this patio door material provides. 

Fiberglass

When you envision a patio door, fiberglass likely does not leap to the front of your mind. However, fiberglass offers a lot of advantages over other materials. They can be manufactured to be virtually indistinguishable from traditional wood doors, but without the headaches.

Fiberglass doors require very little maintenance, and they’re superstars for withstanding harsh weather conditions without warping, rotting, or deteriorating. You’ll also save on heating and cooling bills due to their high energy efficiency.

Other Considerations

When you’re choosing the best materials for your patio doors, there are additional factors to keep in mind. For instance, you’ll want to consider the style of door you prefer. Do you want gliding or French doors, for example?

And what kind of conditions will your doors be exposed to? A covered patio, for instance, will likely be less punishing for your patio doors than an uncovered one.

The Takeaway

There are few pleasures in life greater than enjoying the backyard patio with family and friends. But a warped, rotting, and deteriorated patio door can instantly spoil an idyllic moment. Knowing how to select the best patio door materials for your home and climate, though, can ensure your doors remain the perfect portal to paradise for years to come. 

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.