Understanding Window Treatment for Sliding Glass Doors: Know the Benefits Plus Bonus Tips from The Pro

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The Best Dressed Sliding Glass Doors

Since sliding glass doors are often one of the largest windows you may have, they certainly need to be dressed to block the immense amount of heat, sun and glare in the hot summer. You have several choices and also some things to consider when choosing window treatments for sliding glass doors.

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Window Treatments for Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors open horizontally, unlike most windows in a home. This gives them some different qualities that you need to keep in mind when choosing window treatments. Of course, these window treatments need to be functional so you can enter and exit the home to your outdoor space–on nice days; it actually extends your living space when you can leave the sliding glass door open. 

Sliding glass fixtures are aesthetically pleasing and can bring a lot of natural light into your home depending on the direction they face. As wonderful as sliding patio doors are, it can be a challenge to find window treatments that don’t detract from their usefulness. You have some great choices in custom window treatments to control your light and privacy and function properly.

Understanding the Intricacies of Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors operate horizontally in which one half of the moveable section of the door slides in front of the other stationary portion so you can go inside and outside easily through a large opening. Sliding glass doors or patio doors as they are often called move along tracks in the frame at the top and bottom of the glass. The frames may be made of metal, wood or vinyl. Plastic rollers are fitted to the door panels, inserted into the bottom track to help them to glide open and closed with ease. Sliding glass doors are made with a variety of catches that lock when you close the doors. Your sliding glass doors may have the main sliding glass doors with one stationary and one moveable panel only, or they may be flanked by two stationary window panes on each side to enhance your beautiful outdoor views of scenery. 

What to Consider When Choosing Window Treatments for Sliding Glass Doors

The biggest concern when you are shopping for custom window treatments for a sliding glass door is the functionality. The usefulness of the door is based on being able to walk in and out of it with ease even while carrying bulky items outdoors for a barbeque or other get together with family and friends. 

Several things can hinder the usefulness if not made in the correct manner. If you like drapery panels that slide horizontally, you should consider having a tie back on the sides of the glass. This allows you to keep the panels neat and tidy when they are open, especially on the side with the handle, so as not to hinder movements from inside to outside and vice versa. 

Window Treatments for Sliding Glass Doors​

Drapery panels should also be about an inch above the floor level to keep them clean and out of the way of foot traffic as a tripping hazard. If your window treatment of choice is a valance or Roman shades, they will need to be a length that is high enough above the top window frame so the hemline doesn’t’ brush against people’s heads.

What are the Best Window Treatments for Sliding Glass Doors?

You have several different types of window treatments that operate well on sliding glass doors and give you a different level of privacy, light control and functionality. You may choose a design that enhances your space or one that blends in with the existing decor.

Designer Roller Shades (and Motorization)

The most popular window coverings for sliding and Acacia doors today are either motorized designer roller shades or traversing draperies. Depending on your taste and lifestyle – both offer an up-to-date solution for sliding doors.

Motorization has become much more popular for convenience, safety, and best of all – motor prices have come down and reliability has gone up a lot over the last few years. Rechargeable shade motors are very simple these days – plug in once per year like your cell phone and you are all set!! No wires in the walls (and drywall repair), no expensive disposable batteries to change 2-3 times per year. These can also be programmed to “talk” to all the popular smart home systems, phone apps, and personal assistance devices. Motorized drapery rods are also becoming more popular and common – again for safety and convenience. In fact, we can motorize virtually every type of window covering – many now offer retrofit options for your current window coverings, too!

Draperies and Side Panels

Horizontal sliding draperies and stationary side panels are a beautiful idea to add elegance and a certain softness to your space. They are absolutely gorgeous on their own, but you can also pair them with a hard treatment for extra privacy and energy efficiency. You can choose any type of fabric that you wish from a light and flowing exquisite sheer to silk blends, jacquards or velvets. 

Custom draperies and side panels give you the most different luxury custom made fabrics from which to choose to make your home an extension of your unique style. Drapery panels also have an important safety function in that they let people realize that there is a glass window there. At times, you may have guests that aren’t familiar with your home and they can walk directly into your sliding glass door because they don’t realize it’s closed.

Draperies and Side Panels​ for Sliding Glass Doors

If you want to let some sunshine inside and your patio doors don’t get a lot of sunlight, you can use a translucent sheer material to allow light to enter your space and maintain your privacy. Soft colors, such as cream, pastel blue and gray are great for sheer draperies. Alternatively, you can choose blackout drapes for a completely light blocking window treatment.

If you like to leave your patio door open in nice weather, choose a lighter material with a simple design to allow a nice, cool breeze indoors in the spring and fall.

Don’t choose a rod pocket style heading on drapery panels. This type is not designed to be pulled open and closed frequently. The pinch pleat style will slide very easily from side to side. (Grommets do not slide easily – better used as side panels)

Professional Tip

Make certain that you match the weight of your fabric with a strong and secure drapery rod so the draperies glide easily across the rod, without the rod sagging.

Key Benefits of Side Panels and Draperies

  • Endless design options with so many textures, styles and patterns from which to choose
  • They bring elegance and softness to any room
  • They provide extra light control and privacy when paired with a hard window treatment

Cellular or Honeycomb Shades

If your sliding glass door gets a lot of light in it, you may consider cellular or honeycomb shades. They are one of the best window treatments for energy efficiency due to their construction of tiny pockets or cells that trap hot air next to winnows to keep you home cooler in the hot Arizona summers. You can cover the entire expanse of glass with one shade or use two smaller shades to cover the patio door.

Varieties of Vertical Blinds

Most clients find that vertical blinds are not in style these days.  The solution – a sheer drapery wrapped vertical blind!  The overall look is of a light, airy, sheer drapery, but there are vertical vanes “hidden” within the fabric.  These provide the best of both worlds – the look of a sophisticated drapery with the privacy that vertical blinds provide.  We can even retrofit existing vertical blinds with a sheer drapery wrap!

Vertical blinds were actually invented for large expanses of glass, such as sliding glass doors. You can find them in hard wood, faux wood, PVC plastic and fabric. 

This gives you a huge choice in cool color, texture, style and patterns to get the exact custom vertical blinds that you want. Their slats slightly overlap to make the blinds adjustable so they can block sun and heat and also give you privacy at any time. They lie flat against the glass on sliding doors when they are closed and when opened you can adjust them to let a little or a lot of light in. 

When you open vertical blinds the fit neatly against each other and out of the way of foot traffic going inside and outside. The slat sizes are commonly 1-inch, 2-inch and 3.5-inch sizes, although most homeowners choose the larger of the sizes for a modern appearance. 

If you are changing the color scheme of your room along with a remodel job, it is smart to choose a neutral color of vertical blinds. 

On the other hand, if you want your vertical blinds to look prominent, you can choose a color or fabric that stands out against your wall color, your trim color or your door.

Cellular Honeycomb Shades​ for Sliding Glass Doors

Professional Decor Tip

  • Most interior designers in Scottsdale will avoid using window treatments as the basis of a room’s color palette. NOT true – many pick their drapery as the focus of the room!

Other Considerations: Stack Size

The stack size of a window treatment is the space that they take up when they are fully open. This is something to consider for sliding glass door window treatments. Roman shades and woven wood shades have a large stack at the top of the window when fully raised.

(Wood blinds are not meant to open/closed regularly – too heavy – these are designed to be tilted open/closed.)

If you have ample space on the wall above your patio door, these types of window treatments may be hung higher above the top of the window frame so guests won’t need to duck or hit their heads on them when going in and out of the door. You can also add a beautiful custom cornice to cover the stack if you have enough room above the glass door. 

Cellular shades, sheer shades and roller shades have a much smaller stack, which don’t interfere with traffic entering or exiting your home. You do have to consider that you need to open or close these types of horizontally opening window coverings each time you use your door or just leave them open entirely. If you don’t want to do this or find it a hassle, you should choose any other window treatments products that open from side-to-side. 

As you see now, there are a lot of great options for custom window treatments for your sliding glass doors. When you choose a product made of fabric, it gives you the largest amount of colors, textures, patterns and prints from which to choose. With all of the options available, you are sure to find the best custom window treatment and interior design in Scottsdale, Arizona that you truly love.

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