Feature Article /
Jan 12, 2016

Multi-Panel Doors Take the Scenic Route

La Cantina Brighton multi-panel doors

More and more homeowners who want the practical and psychological benefits of a full remodel without the cost are opting to replace their doors.

“People are still cautious with their home-improvement spending, and many are realizing that upgrading doors is a cost-effective way to improve their homes,” says Paul Bors, a remodeler with Handyman Matters Chicago.

At the forefront of this trend are the multi-panels that are slowly but surely having an impact on the patio door market. Multi-panel units have had a market presence for more than 20 years, but not until recently have they commonly been seen outside of commercial projects and high-end new homes, especially in more temperate climates. Whatever the style—sliding, folding, or pocket—as the technology of these doors evolves and the indoor/outdoor lifestyle continues to grow, experts are expecting an increase in multi-panel doors, even for midrange homes.

A New Market 
Matt Thomas is the marketing director of NanaWall, which has dealt exclusively in multi-panel doors for the last 25 years. For much of that time the company has catered to commercial developers and the architectural needs of high-end residential clients. However, within the last few years, NanaWall has seen an increase in sales for more modest homes.

“We’re growing fastest in the mid-tier market,” says Thomas, adding that it’s no longer just new-home builders buying these doors. “We’re seeing a lot of renovations of Mid-Century homes that were built around the indoor/outdoor lifestyle,” he explains.

Regional Differences 
But the trend hasn’t caught on everywhere. “Unfortunately, we’re in the wrong place for large, multi-panel patio doors,” says remodeler Chaden Halfhill, who owns Silent Rivers Design + Build in Des Moines, Iowa, an area that he says is more conservative and filled with practical consumers. “They’re either too expensive, or there are issues with the climate.” Halfhill has had better luck selling 12-foot French doors to those clients who want to take advantage of views or enjoy a summer breeze. “There’s one from Pella that we like that has screens integrated,” he says.

A Bright Future 
That said, the interest in multi-panels is likely to grow geographically as long as the technology keeps improving and Americans’ taste for alfresco living continues to evolve. After all, what other product is a door and a window and a wall in one? When closed, it allows the light in as if there were no wall at all, and when open, it seamlessly incorporates the outdoors into an interior living space. There’s no looking back, there is only looking forward. And the view is a scenic one indeed.

A version of this story appeared on proremodeler.com, PRODUCTS' sister publication.