If there’s one strong design feature that defines homes in a modern estate, it has to be expansive, frameless glass doors, enabling a seamless transition from inside to outside, and letting in tons of natural light.
Sliding doors once performed this function, but today the trend is frameless, transparent doors that open up a space entirely, whether they’re open or closed. A concertina design allows these doors to transform easily from a wall of glazing to a wall of, well, nothing. And the cleaner and wider the view to the outdoors, the bigger the indoor space will appear.
‘Frameless door and window systems provide a simple, sleek Germanic look that harmonises with most architectural styles and designs,’ says Werner de Beer, director at Inso Architectural Solutions, which has homes in Waterfall Country Estate and Saddlebrook Estate in Gauteng among its galleried clients.
These individually moveable, unconnected glass panels can be opened over an entire front, and parked as a narrow stack on the side, for a hassle-free passage from the inside to the outside, while the visuals are not impaired in any way. While they are most popularly installed on external walls, says Todd Ralph of Sunflex, ‘they can also be used to maximise area usage and flow between spaces internally. It’s an elegant solution that enhances the overall attractiveness of the property.’
When used to enclose patios, frameless doors form a secondary external/internal barrier, and create a nice warm room in winter. Also, ‘the 10mm toughened safety glass is essentially adding an additional security barrier that the property did not have before,’ says Ralph. And, he adds,‘ there are a number of opening and locking mechanisms available.’ It also means you can leave your patio furniture out all the time as the glass doors protect it from rain, wind and – with suitable blinds – sun. And, of course, it is as secure as the furniture inside your house.
Of course, there will always be a love of wood-framed glass doors, harking to the well-loved traditional cottage-style look.
‘There is nothing quite as beautiful as solid wood door frames – the natural grain and patina of the wood gives them a definitive organic beauty that will never date,’ says Cobus Lourens from Swartland Windows and Doors.
Timber is also an excellent insulator, making it the most energy efficient choice of all the materials, although it is heavier than aluminium. It also requires maintenance, but the good news is that technology is continually evolving to make wood more durable.
Aluminium is also a popular alternative for door frames, as it’s lightweight, durable and strong, and requires little or no maintenance at all, but it does not have the nostalgic ambiance of wood. And, while the standard frame profile of precision engineered aluminium doors allows them to be opened completely and neatly folded away to create a wide opening comparable to that of frameless glass, they don’t quite match the airy sense of freedom the frameless option offers when they are closed.
As beautiful and airy as folding or sliding glass doors are, homeowners can be forgiven for worrying about security. However, in reality, it is a lot harder to break in through these doors than is commonly assumed.
The glass is toughened, and some doors are double-glazed, which makes them very difficult to break through, and you can also choose from a range of films that – as well as controlling glare – will significantly improve its resistance to breaking without detracting from the benefits of the expansive glazing.
When it comes to shading, or closing off the view, you can choose from a range of blinds or opt for the very popular solution of a sheer screen that can be customised in various fabrics and designs. A sheer fabric will cut the glare while still allowing light in and preserving the view, while blackout fabric is used to darken the room and offers the most privacy, day or night.
By Helen Grange