Windows and patio doors – advantages and disadvantages of the available solutions


There are currently many solutions available on the market when it comes to windows and patio doors. Whether you run a business, live in a flat or have a large house where you need large glazing – everyone will find the perfect solution for their needs. But what type of windows or balcony doors will work best for you? Below, we will try to dispel any doubts and choose the best option.

Balcony doors, precisely their size, type or method of opening, are elements to which we must pay particular attention already at the time of building a house or a major renovation. This is also when the question arises as to which variant of window joinery we want to choose. This must suit our needs, but also our possibilities, aesthetics or safety. The following is therefore a brief overview of the available options, so that we can see the advantages and disadvantages of a given solution, so that we can finally make the right choice.

What material should I choose for my balcony window?

Before discussing the different types of windows, it is useful to first know what materials we can use to make them. The three most popular are undoubtedly uPVC, aluminium and timber windows. For many years now, most windows have been sold from PVC, although it is worth noting that this trend is beginning to reverse. Why? Well, in modern homes we often can no longer imagine having a small balcony window. We want it to be a kind of extension of the living room and to present a beautiful panorama of the garden. Unfortunately, although uPVC windows are by far the cheapest, they also have their limitations, for example in terms of size.

This is because the standard width of a uPVC balcony door is only 86.5 cm. As a result, the clear width of the frames is only just over 70 cm. Of course, by opting for sliding doors we can extend the space, but this will not often be a result that satisfies us.

This is why we increasingly opt for more expensive, but better quality and more durable wooden or aluminium windows, where we can afford many modern solutions, such as a threshold in the spout, which gives a beautiful effect. If, on the other hand, the price of aluminium windows effectively frightens us off, we still have a choice of a kind of hybrid, i.e. wood-aluminium windows, which are a slightly cheaper but equally solid solution.

Single leaf balcony doors

Single-leaf balcony doors are the most common option for balconies, and also if you have a small house or flat without a terrace. It is often the case that we even have several such doors in a building. They work well in the living room as well as the study, bedroom or children’s rooms.

Their biggest advantage is undoubtedly their functionality. They can be used as an exit to the balcony, but also, by choosing tilt-and-turn doors, we will be able to ventilate rooms, even when it is raining outside – then it is enough to set them in the microventilation or tilt position.

Single-sash balcony windows are also the cheapest solution. Their final price can, of course, vary considerably, depending on the dimensions, type of profile or type of fittings, but most often in this case of joinery, a good choice is uPVC, which is perfect for small balcony doors.

As far as disadvantages are concerned, they will certainly be the small dimensions of the window, as well as the impossibility of implementing a zero threshold, which is undoubtedly impressive.

Biparting balcony doors

There are currently two different versions of bi-fold patio doors available. The first option is a door with a fixed mullion that remains stationary when the wings are opened. The second option is a door with a movable post, which is an integral part of one of the wings and moves with it. It is the second solution that is currently very popular with builders. Why? Well, while retaining all the advantages of single-leaf patio doors, it eliminates one of their main disadvantages – their limited width. The optimum size of a double-leaf balcony door with a movable mullion, made of standard PVC-U window sections, should not exceed the dimensions S = 1.8m; H = 2.3m, but if the glazing package is embedded in the profiles, we can afford even a 2-metre window!

For those who want even larger glazing, it is suggested to consider a combination of bi-fold patio doors and fix windows. This combination allows for a wide glass wall at an affordable price. Unfortunately, as with any situation, there will also be one major drawback here, namely the inability to open fix windows.

PSK tilt and slide patio doors

It is finally time to move on to sliding windows, which are increasingly being chosen by customers wanting large glazing and comfort. In the case of PSK doors, unlike the previous solutions, the sashes do not open towards the room. Indeed, the movement of the sashes takes place parallel to the plane of the window, thanks to which we can save a lot of space in the house.

The tilting of PSK windows, on the other hand, is done in the same way as with traditional windows. The operation of the entire system is also very simple, although if you have large dimensions, you will have to use a little more force, which is undoubtedly a disadvantage, especially if we compare these windows to HST windows, which will be mentioned in a moment.

The undoubted advantage, however, is the price of this solution, and often this is a key aspect when making a decision. PSK balcony doors can also reach large sizes, but if you choose uPVC as the material, the width should not exceed 2.3 metres.

The movement of the wings takes place on rails and carriages, so precise installation is very important so that we do not have problems with opening and closing the door later.

HST lift-and-slide balcony doors

HST balcony doors have gained immense popularity in recent years, especially for large glazed areas. Their unique features, such as, for example, the ability to create a structure with a 13 mm thick concealed threshold, make them beautiful, functional and ideal for wheelchair users, among others.

With HST doors, special hardware mechanisms allow the huge sashes to move smoothly with minimal effort. When the handle is turned down from the closed position, the sash rises a few millimetres, releasing the pressure of the seals and allowing the sashes to slide easily.

In addition, the HST system makes it possible to create impressive glazing, reaching widths of up to 6 metres, bringing a lot of light, closeness to nature and a sense of space into rooms that many are willing to pay more for.

However, it is worth mentioning that the installation of HST doors requires specialised skills and professional equipment, as they are large and can weigh up to several hundred kilograms.

There is a false belief that larger glazing leads to poorer thermal insulation and higher heating costs. Nothing could be further from the truth – as modern HST solutions guarantee minimal heat loss, even with such impressive structures. The glazing in large windows achieves better thermal insulation parameters (Ug=0.4 W/m2K), and the thicker glazing in HST structures in turn offers excellent thermal and acoustic insulation.

Safety concerns associated with large glazings are also unfounded. Thicker glazing in HST structures is more difficult to break, and the use of safety glass with PVB film and fittings certified in the RC2/3 burglary resistance class provide effective burglary protection. If even this does not convince us, we can also install opening sensors and connect them to the alarm system, further increasing security and reliability.

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