Your patio doors go a long way toward setting the look and feel of your home—both inside and out. They’re the passages through which you and your guests will venture time and time again as you enjoy the amenities of your outdoor living space—so of course, they’re not a home décor element that you want to scrimp on.

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And rest assured that not all patio doors are created equal. You’ll want to do some research, check out some different options, and think about what looks best—not just in the door store, but in the context of your home and your patio area.

As you go to select the perfect patio doors, keep these basic pointers in mind:

Think about the space around your doors. Some doors swing open, and if you have a lot of space around the doorway, then that’s fine. If you’re working within more narrow parameters, though—like, if you have furniture close to the patio doorway—then you may want to make sure you get sliding patio doors.

Wider is usually better, within reason. Typically, you’ll want to go with wider patio doors when you can, because it creates a greater sense of connection between your inside and outside living spaces; it makes coming and going much easier; and, if you’ve got windows on the doors, it maximizes the natural light that comes into your home.

Think about maintenance. Some materials look really nice but don’t necessarily lend themselves to easy maintenance. Wood, in particular, will require some upkeep. That’s not to say you shouldn’t get wood, but do know what you’re getting into as far as maintenance goes. Note that materials like vinyl and aluminum really don’t require maintenance, which may make them better options.

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Go to a real door store. General home improvement stores may have some selections, but real, doors-only retailers such as Los Angeles based  Door Store America—will offer much more numerous options for French patio doors, and other styles, too. You might as well see all of your options before making a decision.

Make sure you find glass that’s rated for energy efficiency. There’s no reason not to save a few bucks on your home heating and cooling bills. Energy efficiency ratings should be posted somewhere on the glass product itself, and you can always find more information at the Department of Energy website.
Your patio doors may seem pretty simple, but here’s the truth: There’s much to think about. And, the more thought you put into them, the better the chances that you’ll find the perfect doors for your home. Spend some time seriously shopping and comparing before you settle on patio door products for your home.