Why not getting to know all available solutions before choosing a balcony door!
Terrace systems (balcony doors, PSK, HST, folding doors - what makes them different - operational advantages and disadvantages)
It is rather unimaginable today to have a modern detached house without a balcony door. The terrace makes up an extension of the house; it is perfect in the summer time as a place for breakfasts or evening meetings with friends. Terrace doors allow us to open up the space and enjoy stunning views inside the house.
The window industry provides numerous options. Which one is the best? It all depends on your expectations. Let us introduce you to the available options.
Single-leaf balcony doors
Single-leaf balcony doors make up the simplest solution, which can be found in numerous houses and flats. Its advantage is, of course, affordable price and simple installation and operation. Classic single-leaf balcony doors are also highly airtight. The only restriction to this solution is its size. The standard width of single-leaf PVC doors is 86.5cm. This makes it difficult to accommodate larger pieces of furniture, for example.
Nor the desired effect of opening up to the outside space will be achieved. Single-leaf doors are best for smaller balconies. Single-leaf doors are available as part of the following options: tilt and turn. In the case of single-leaf balcony doors, a low-threshold option can be used; it will allow reduction of architectural barriers and provide a modern and more practical access to the terrace.
Double-leaf balcony doors
Double balcony doors with a so-called movable post make up an another available and commonly chosen solution. A movable post makes that structural element permanently connected to one of the leaves, thanks to which after opening both leaves some free space is obtained. This definitely improves comfort, not only when moving around, but also when bringing larger furniture into the house. In case of double doors with a movable post, it is worth mentioning that the part that contains the movable post was not provided with the tilt option.
The optimum size of a double-leaf balcony door with a movable post, made of standard PVC-U window sections, should not exceed the following dimensions: S = 1.8m; H = 2.3m. Theoretically, making double-leaf doors with a fixed post may also be provided, but this solution is functionally impractical and therefore rarely applied.
PSK tilt and slide balcony doors
As a response to growing expectations of customers who crave for large glazing and comfort, systems such as PSK tilt and slide doors have been engineered. In the case of classic balcony doors (described above), the sashes open towards the room, or otherwise, in the case of doors and windows made as part of the Dutch system, space is needed for their total unfolding. With the PSK solution, however, the movement of the sashes takes place parallel to the plane of the window. This obviously saves internal space.
Tilting of PSK windows is carried out in the same way as in traditional windows; operation of this system is simple. However, in the case of large sizes it is not as smooth as with application of the HST solution, e.g. your child may have a problem with a large structure which weighs almost e.g. 150kg). Another disadvantage is the lack of a low threshold, which is a major problem e.g. for disabled people who use wheelchairs.
The advantage of the PSK system is undoubtedly its lower cost, so if this is the key aspect in your decision, you will probably find the PSK solution optimal. Another advantage is the width of the structure, which if properly divided into three-quarter structures can exceed even 4m. For the height, about 2.3m is still recommended. The sashes are moved on rails and bogies, so careful assembly of the structure is very important.
HST lift-and-slide balcony doors
HST balcony doors have become extremely popular recently. They are perfect for large glazing and their advantages include the possibility of creating a structure with a 13mm threshold, i.e. when the threshold is hidden in the floor. Their indisputable advantage is also related to the possibility of creating a structure with a 13mm threshold, i.e. the threshold is hidden in the floor.
Such a solution obviously increases functionality and is perfect e.g. for people in wheelchairs. In the case of HST doors, special hardware mechanisms enable the sliding of huge sashes with minimum force. Turning the handle down, from the closed position, raises the sash a few millimetres releasing the gasket pressure and allowing the sashes to move freely. The HST system allows you to create impressive glazing. Depending on the chosen opening scheme, its width can be up to 6m. Light-filled rooms, closeness to nature, lack of barriers and freedom of space shaping are all qualities for which we are willing to pay even more.
The installation of HST doors requires appropriate skills and the use of professional equipment (e.g. a crane) as they are large and can weigh over 400kg Modern solutions applied in the window industry today allow us to ensure that heat loss is virtually negligible even in such structures. Those who are opponents of large windows argue that such a large surface of glass translates into worse thermal insulation, and consequently higher heating costs. This is a myth. Glazing achieves better thermal insulation parameters (even up to Ug=0.4 W/m2K), whereas a warm profile, e.g. Living 82 achieves the thermal insulation up to Uf=0.79 W/m2K, which is weaker than in glass. Therefore it is not the window pane that causes heat loss.
More glazing make an invitation to potential burglars? Once again we would like to dispel the myth. As part of large HST constructions the glass panes must be thicker than in smaller frames, e.g. a single pane of glass in a double-glazed unit will be 6 mm or even more instead of 4 mm. Thicker glass features better thermal and acoustic insulation parameters, and at the same time, it is more difficult to break. It is also recommended to use PVB safety glass and packages - such as 33.1 - for large glazings. In addition, application of fittings delivered by well-known manufacturers, which may be certified as part of one of the burglary resistance classes, e.g. RC2, provides a guarantee of effective anti-burglary protection. It is also possible to install special opening sensors and connect them to the alarm system.
HST balcony doors offer a choice of various opening systems. These are presented as part of the graphics below. The first system, i.e. a double door with a single movable leaf, with a right or left-hand option, is the one most often chosen by customers. The last scheme presented, i.e. the four-door one with two middle opening leaves, thanks to which we can have a "garden" at home, brings great opportunities.
Folding balcony doors
Folding doors are a less popular solution than those presented above. These are most often used, for example, as part of winter gardens. Fold&Slide doors usually consist of two sections: a folding leaf (or a tilt & turn leaf) and two or more leaves which, when shifted sideways, fold together as if these were concertinaed.
Doors with 3 to 8 leaves can be manufactured. A carriage moves along the threshold, on which the weight of the moving structure is transferred. Their advantage includes opportunity to install a low threshold, which is useful when there are children, elderly or disabled people in the house. Its another advantage includes space saving; when the door is fully opened, it provides a spacious passage.
Which solution should be chosen?
The answer to this question is not self-evident. It all depends on the planned use and positioning of the balcony door in the house façade. If is not planned before the start of construction, the size of the opening, expectations in terms of functionality and available budget will determine whether there will be single- or double-leaf doors, PSK or HST.