Largest Sliding Glass Doors

lbainsJanuary 5, 2008

I am going to be building a house soon on a lake and want to incorporate the view as much as possible. I am going to put sliding glass doors across the entire back of the house over looking the water. My grandparents had a mid-century modern house on a lake with sliding glass doors as well. However, these sliding glass doors were wider than what you see in most homes today and were three panels wide.

Can anyone tell me what the widest and tallest standard panel of sliding glass would be before it becomes a custom order?

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teedup1

In Central Florida, between two lakes, I see. Hurricanes are a concern?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 5:58PM
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lbains

My grandparents house in the same town was built in 1959 and has been through numerous hurricanes and the house and the sliding glass doors have come through all of them without a scratch. On top of that today's sliding glass doors are built under much more strict wind standards. So I am not worried about hurricanes since this is directly in the middle of the state as far as one can get from the coast. Although winds can still be high inland they are nothing like what residents experience on the coast and we don't have tidal surge.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 6:36PM
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tru_blue

For most brands the widest is 8' wide (for a two section door) and 8' tall. However, the bigger it is, the harder it is to open and the draftier it can be.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 2:58AM
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lbains

Thanks for your reply. You said the widest for most brands is 8' for a two section door. Is that 8' per panel which would mean two panels are 16' wide or 8' for both meaning it would be 4' for each panel? Any suggestions on a good brand? Thanks

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 9:10AM
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teedup1

We have a 12 foot wide, 7ft-8in tall, 3-panel patio sliding glass door. It is dual pane, Argon-filled, Low-E glass. (Our middle panel is the moveable one, but any ONE of the 3 panels of this single-frame/casing slider can be chosen to be the moveable/sliding one.)

We got this Atrium brand sliding glass door two years ago and it is the biggest I've seen that's still a STANDARD SIZE in So. Cal. My B-I-L got the very same door just last year so I'm assuming it is still on the market out West today.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 9:10AM
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teedup1

Oops, forgot to add: Our door is not hard to open or close and it is not drafty at all, not even during our very powerful Santa Ana winds. Cost is just under $3K installed.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 9:19AM
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lbains

teedup1-Thanks for that information. Is 12' the total amount between all three panels or the total for just one panel? A house I went to in California had single panels that wide but they told me they were custom made and very expensive. The living room is one room that I will have a wide area and great view of the lake up on a hill so I want to take advantage of that. The manufacturer is "Atruim"?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 9:19AM
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teedup1

The manufacturer of our door is Atrium (you have the "i" and "u" reversed). The 12 feet is the total width of ours and we have it located in a 14 foot wall in the family room overlooking our backyard. The door is our only access to the backyard so it is in constant use here. Although we got ours through a dealer here who handles and installs Atrium windows (there are many dealers on East and West coasts), from "Search" I find:

Atrium Windows and Doors - Home
Home. Atrium. Atrium Companies is the largest manufacturer of vinyl and aluminum windows and ... addition to our flagship Atrium Windows and Doors brand, ...
home.atrium.com - 20k - Cached

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 9:36AM
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tru_blue

Standard widths are nominally 4' per panel. Common heights for standard patio doors across many brands tend to be 6'8", 6'10", and 8" including the frame and R.O., with the actual door panels being a few inches less than that.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 11:03AM
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teedup1

One more "oops". Our 12-ft slider WITHOUT including framing is 6'8" tall NOT the 7'8" as I had stated earlier.

(Thanks Tru-Blue. For someone who can otherwise see a 1/4" break on a 25-foot putt, I blew it. I remeasured and certainly did not want to mislead.)

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 11:26AM
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mattasimms

i was in the same place you are and went with Nanawall. They custom build these to your specs and needs. i went with a 4 panel nanawall and cant wait for the thing to be installed!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 7:54PM
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mattasimms

i was in the same place you are and went with Nanawall. They custom build these to your specs and needs. i went with a 4 panel nanawall and cant wait for the thing to be installed!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 8:47PM
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lbains

Thanks for your replies. I realized I left out one very important word in my original question. What is the widest and tallest "SINGLE" sliding glass door panel? I want the most unobstructed view of the lake and wider panels are the way to go. I understand that the space could be filled with narrower panels which I seem to see a lot of in today's homes. However, I'd rather have the same space with two or three wide panels vs. four or five narrower ones.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 6:29PM
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guy_exterior_man

The widest single panel patio door for a stock item is 4'. Two of these panels make up the stock size 8' door.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 5:43AM
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lbains

Thanks for the reply. I suppose sliding glass doors used to be made in wider sizes. Many of the mid century modern style homes of the 50's and 60's had panels that were 6' wide or more. I believe that was a standard size but it looks like today to get that size it will have to be custom made. I wonder why today's panels are smaller? One would think as technology progressed that panels would be wider not narrower. I'm going to a mid century modern home built in 1959 this weekend and I am going to measure the sliding glass doors. If the cost isn't prohibitive I'll need to order these doors custom made. Does anyone have any suggestions for a company that could do this? Thanks

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 7:13AM
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lvmy4kds

Take a look at Great Lakes Windows. We just got a bid from them and they have large sliders.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 2:39PM
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tru_blue

The only manufacturers I'm aware of that would make sliding doors with panels wider than 4' per section are commercial metal window/door manufacturers. Kawneer would be a good one to check out. But again - I warn you, performance will decline the larger the door. A way to check this is by looking at design pressure ratings of established window/door manufacturers. Design pressure is a measurment of how well the window/door will hold up to windload and water pressure, even when assailed by 100 MPH winds. With any manufacturer, a 5'or 6' door has a better design pressure than an 8' wide door, which is the weakest link. Since you live in central Florida (I think), it's not as much of an issue if you feel a bit of draft with custom 5' wide (each) panels.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 7:00PM
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jake_2008

4' per panel width is pretty common, it is possible to get doors taller than 6'8" as a standard height. I would watch using Atrium since they are a vinyl patio door. Don't get me wrong Atrium makes a very good vinyl product, they are one of the better brands, I sell a bunch of them. But going anything bigger that a 6' wide patio door i would stay away from a vinyl product. They are not a structually stable as a wood product would be. Also if you go with wood you could have as many of these units mulled together is you would like.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 7:16PM
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skydawggy

Jake,

Atrium is not considered one of the better brands by most knowledgable people. Some may consider them a good value but, they are at the very best a mid-grade window and door manufacturer. It is also misleading to generalize that a wood product is structurally more stable than a vinyl product. Surely, you are aware that wood is subject to rotting and warping much more than a quality vinyl product? Structurally the weight of a SGD is distributed on the wheels, not the door panels or frame. So a more accurate statement would be that "large doors with stainless steel ball bearing wheels are much more stable than a similar size door with nylon wheels". I'm very curious about your sources of information. Have you compared structural ratings with AAMA or any other unbiased sources? If not, I'd recommend it before posting misinformation in the future.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 12:37AM
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tru_blue

Actually I somewhat agree with Jake on that one. If getting an oversized huge door (8' to 10' wide in only two sections) I'd rather go with fiberglass or wood. I've never bothered to look up structural ratings of a vinyl 8' door; therefore I don't even know if they list them for size-specific in an 8' width, but I have observed more than one brand in my travels in which REAL large sizes didn't perform quite as well compared to smaller sizes. I just did an apartment building with about 40 vinyl patio doors. No discernable problems with any of them but they were all only 6' wide.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 8:58AM
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skydawggy

Using Simonton Impressions as an example, the 96x80 door has a water and structural rating of R-50 and a uniform load of 75 psf. The 108x96 has a water rating of R50 and a structural rating of R70.

Compare that to the Andersen Woodwright 400 series. Andersen claims a DP 40 which transfers into a structural rating of R60. The larger size Andersens drop down to a low of DP25 to a high of DP35. A DP35 would give a structural rating of 52.5.

So I would say it is misleading to make a generalized claim that all wood sliding doors are more structural stable than a vinyl door.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 3:57PM
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anthem

If you are going large size windows/doors/sliders, I'd seriously look at steel over vinyl or wood.

As I mentioned in another thread - for slider doors above standard size, the only two companies I'd recommend are Hopes Windows ( http://www.hopeswindows.com ) and Nanawall ( http://www.nanawall.com ). Both are pretty much considered the best. You can take a look at their site to find out what is possible in oversize glass applications.

See, the difference is this - you guys are arguing over 108x96 and 96x80 unit sizes. These other guys can actually make a door 108x96 wide that fold or slide open. . . An entirely different ballgame. mattasimms above is on the right track.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 10:43PM
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lbains

I got permission from the current owners of the home my grandparents built in 1959 to measure the sliding glass doors this evening. As I suspected they are much larger than today's sliding glass doors. They were manufactured by Anderson and in the living room two walls of sliding glass met in the corner. One wall has three panels and each single panel was 93" tall and 53" wide. That would make this opening approximately 159" wide. The other wall that met the three panel wall in the corner had two panels of the same size and that would make this opening approximately 106" wide. In the family room there were three panels and those were five feet wide and 80" tall which would make that opening approximately 180". In the dining room the single panels were 5' 4" wide and 80" tall. There were two panels there so that would be an approximate opening of 128" These are the sizes I am looking for. I don't suppose Anderson makes those sizes any longer so it looks like unless someone knows for sure a company that makes this size standard I'm going to have to look into custom made.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 11:05PM
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wws944

If you don't mind aluminum frames, look at Fleetwood. They can make 6' wide and 12' high sliding doors. Pricey though.

Also remember that those mid-century modern homes (and we have one...) came with single pane glass. New doors will have two panes and be twice as heavy. This is very hard on the rollers and such. So whatever brand you buy, make sure it has very heavy duty hardware inside.

FWIW, we are using Milgard aluminum in our MCM house. But we did not get exotic with the heights/widths.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 11:42AM
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lbains

wws944-Thanks for the tip on Fleetwood. I will check into that. That is a very good point you made about the old mid century modern sliding glass doors only having one pane and the new ones have two increasing the weight. I'd probably like each panel to be 5' wide and 7 3/4' tall.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 12:53PM
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galefarm

I just installed a Pella Architect Series Slider 188 inches wide (15.66 feet) by 8 foot high I really looks sharp with the center two panels operating. Just very tedious to install due to the size and It has a fairly high Design Pressure rating compared to the other sliders I have worked with

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 3:30PM
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lakedog

MegaWood makes the largest door I've ever seen. Terrific style, made from mahogany, and unique options. You didn't mention price but these might be 5-10 times a Pella door in cost.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 11:02PM
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kulpy11

We are looking at Anderson's 12' 4 panel slider. My father-in-law, former contractor, warned against them due to difficulty opening and closing and difficulty installing. Does anyone have any thoughts about their functionality? The one we are looking at is pine interior and vinyl exterior. We are considering going with (2) 6' sliders, but they won't be nearly as attractive. Opinions?? And we are planning on installing ourselves...

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 1:46PM
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