7 Types of Doors to Maximize Indoor-Outdoor Living

Various types of doors can help make an indoor-outdoor transition seamless, while enhancing natural light, ventilation, visibility and connection with surroundings. These doors come in a variety of styles and mechanisms, so how do you decide which doors are best for your home? Here’s a guide to seven types of external doors and the benefits they can offer:

1. Single-hinged doors
A hinged door is the most basic and traditional form of door. It has a swiveling hinge on one side of the door frame, enabling the other side of the door to swing open from the wall. A single-hinged door can open inwards, outwards or both.

As many houses are built or renovated to have larger openings between indoor and outdoor spaces, single hinged doors have become increasingly rare because other types of doors cover larger spans. However, they are sometimes used in conjunction with other door types, for easier entry and exit without opening an entire sliding or stacking door system.


  • Hinged doors can be used to maximize the space of a narrow opening, and are a good alternative when there is no allowance to install stacked or folding doors. Because they swing in or out, they will require a clear space to open, equal to the width of the door.
  • Hinged doors come in a variety of sizes, but the structural frame and hinges will need to be able to support the weight of the door when open.
  • They can be teamed with security or fly screens to let the breeze in while keeping unwanted bugs and other pests out.


2. French doors
French doors are basically a pair of singled-hinged doors that open away from each other. Traditionally, they have multiple framed glass panels, but today, anything goes.

Doors between indoor and outdoor spaces generally swing or stack outside of the home to maintain indoor space. However, if the outdoor space is narrow, as with this balcony, hinge the doors to swing inward rather than outward, so as not to obstruct or reduce the outdoor space.


  • French doors provide an elegant transition between indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • French doors fill a wider opening than a single door and the space required in front of the opening is halved, only needing to be the width of one door, not the full opening.
  • Like the single doors, they can be used to maximize the space of the opening.
  • French doors can be combined with glass panes known as sidelights if the opening is larger than two doors. This maintains the natural light levels and the connection to the outdoors.


3. Bi-fold doors
Bi-fold doors are made up of a series of individual folding door panels. They generally comprise two or more hinged panels that fold or concertina along a sill track, and can be pushed to one or both sides of the structural opening.


  • Bi-fold doors can help create the illusion of a larger interior, as the wall opening does not have obstructive structural posts.
  • Like single-hinged and French doors, they can open inwards or outwards depending on interior or exterior space. However, folding the doors outside the house maximizes indoor space.
  • Bi-fold doors provide flexibility to be fully or partially opened. Additionally, as pictured, one door panel can function as a single active door, being used for entries and exits without opening the entire door system.
  • Be aware that most bi-fold doors are top hung, so structural supports will be required to withstand the weight.


4. Pivot doors
Pivot doors have hinges mounted at the top and bottom of the door, sometimes at a centre or off-centre point. This means that when the door is open, it is both inside and outside. Pivot doors can be singular or multiple, as in the example pictured here.


  • A series of pivot doors can be angled to direct or obstruct breezes and/or natural light.
  • If the pivot is centered or off-centre, the doors can generally be bigger and heavier than single-hinged doors or French doors because the weight-bearing point supports two sides of the frame, rather than just one. Thus, the opening space can be wider than a single door. However, the open door will obstruct a portion of this.
  • Again, if the pivot is centered or off-centre, the door will sit across both sides of the structure when open. Therefore a clear space needs to be both in front of and behind the door – the width of this will depend on the position of the pivot.


5. Sliding doors
Sliding doors open sideways rather than inwards or outwards, gliding alongside another panel or the framework of the house. Sliding doors allow for expansive openings or glass walls (if the panels are glass) to maximize views.

The panels allow for greater control of ventilation into a space, as well as natural light, visibility and views.


  • A sliding mechanism is ideal for large doors as the weight is fully supported on upper and lower tracks.
  • They do not require a structural support within the opening, and the weight of the door is on the bottom track.
  • Sliding doors are space-saving, as a large door can be used without needing to consider the space in front of, or behind, the door. However, if it is sliding alongside a wall, be sure it is free of obstruction.


6. Stacking doors
Stacking doors look like sliding doors, but contain more moving panels. They are often comprised of two or more panels that slide behind one fixed panel or structural element. Each panel collects and interlocks with the next panel, causing it to slide.


  • Many of the benefits of stacking doors are similar to sliding doors.
  • Additionally, because there are multiple panels, they can accommodate a larger opening.
  • Stacking and sliding doors can be fully recessed into the framework of the house so they completely disappear, maximising the space of the opening


7. Vertical-opening doors
Vertically hung doors open upwards, and they are usually opened with some form of mechanism, such as an automatic system or wheel

Vertical-opening doors are not that common because of their weight and the amount of space required above them. However, they can prove to be exceptional design features. Large glass garage doors open this living room to the outdoors. All it takes is the push of a button.


  • Vertically opening doors are typically custom designed and made, introduced as a design feature or solution to a particular problem. They do not require space to swing inside or outside, but they need height above to slide or stack upwards.


This article was originally posted on houzz.com

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