I wrote near the end of July that installers should be selling a mixture of two material types, I suggested aluminium and PVCu. I also wrote in that post that although aluminium was certainly making a strong comeback, PVCu would remain top of the pile when it came to residential installations.

However I have been thinking on that, and there is one particular area where we could see aluminium dethrone PVCu, other than bi-folding doors, and that is aluminium sliding patio doors.

A sliding patio renaissance

The sliding patio door has undergone it’s own renaissance in recent years. It’s easy to think that bi-folding doors have become the door of choice for home owners wanting to open up space in their living areas.

But thanks to a regeneration of sliding patio doors in all varieties of materials, and a healthy dose of exposure on Grand Designs and similar TV programmes, the product has seen a strong return.

And it’s return is based on merit. There are plenty of USPs when it comes to sliding patio doors. They slide within themselves, which means no loss of living space internally or garden space externally. They can come in huge widths without having to be broken up by frame, unlike bi-fold doors or French doors. Their cost compared to French and bi-folding doors is lower, which makes it accessible to more home owners.

The larger glazing capabilities is one of the strongest reasons for their comeback. If a home owner has a stunning view of their large garden or the countryside around them, the last thing they want from their doors is to split that view up. A three metre bi-fold for example would have to be split up into three or four sashes depending on the material. A sliding patio door, in either PVCu or aluminium, could be done in two section, meaning only one split down the middle, maximising the view and glazed area.

Frame strength in aluminium

Going back to the aluminium vs PVCu battle, there is one area where aluminium excels over PVCu and that is in frame width.

There is no disputing that when it comes to profiles, aluminium sliding patio doors come out on top. Generally they’re thinner than PVC sliding doors, but there are a range of specialist aluminium patio sliders that are designed to be as slim as possible.

Home owners aren’t usually fans of big chunky frames on their patio doors, and with PVCu that’s what you get. With aluminium, you get thinner frames and an inherent strength in the product. There’s no need to reinforce it.

Going back to the home owner with the stunning view, do they want a three metre sliding patio with chunky frames with a negative impact on the glazed area, or thinner frames which are just as strong but maximise their glazed area. I’d say the latter.

I’d also say that even though aluminium sliding patio doors are more expensive, that reputation of better quality and bigger glazed areas will be reasons to justify paying that bit extra for home owners. And in terms of general improvements, I would say that aluminium sliders have come on far more than PVCu has.

In the next few years, I expect the popularity of aluminium sliding patio doors to boom and to even outstrip sales of PVCu ones as both installers and fabricators look to tap into the general upwards trend of aluminium windows and doors.

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