|Aluminum Patio Doors|
Aluminum Patio Doors are popular among the Eichler owners for many reasons. These doors feature thin, almost invisible frames and the largest glazing area. This makes aluminum patio doors virtually invisible and fills your home with sunlight. Aluminum doors also boast protection against the forced entry and rightly so (even though vinyl doors can protect you as well). Finally, aluminum patio doors fit thin Eichler walls and are, frankly, better-advertised for use in Eichlers.
Their positive features aside, aluminum doors have some significant drawbacks to them. While aluminum frames do a good job at keeping the rain and wind out, where they lack is keeping the heat in. Aluminum or metal frames conduct heat easily, earning them a high U-value (the higher the U-value, the more heat a frame loses). The U-value of aluminum frames can be as high as 2, compared to vinyl or wood frames which have low U-values (0.3 to 0.5). Aluminum frames also tend to feel cold to the touch and are prone to condensation. Condensation in turn creates friendly environment for mold and mildew that can serious endanger your health.
Moreover, aluminum corrodes and therefore needs to be protected from the elements by sealants. This is especially problematic for less expensive doors because their frames are joined by screws. This joints oxidize and corrode first, allowing moisture trough the frame and into your home. More expensive doors feature fusion-welded frames, which prevents corrosion.
At the same time, higher-end aluminum doors has had their due place on the market. One of the most important know-hows that allows aluminum frames to achieve higher insulating qualities is called "thermal breaking." Thermally broken aluminum frames consis of two independed metal parts (one facing the inside and another - the outside), joined by an integrated layer of insulation. This insulation ensures that there is no contact between an exterior and an interior part of the frame and thus helps to insulate the frame as a whole. On the West Coast market, thermally broken aluminum doors are available from Arcadia Architectural Products, our long-time partner and supplier.
It is also important not to be mislead by aluminum patio door’s popularity. Some of it comes from the lack of Eichler-oriented marketing on the side of vinyl door manufacturers. Finally, while good aluminum patio doors have excellent quality, their steep price is not budget-friendly. This is especially important given the state of today’s economy.