8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls

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By Lucy Wang
Presented by LaCantina Doors
When done right, a gorgeous glass wall system can transform a room into a spectacular focal point with a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience.

Bringing the outside in with moving walls of glass can lead to a healthier, happier lifestyle—not to mention the power of full-height glazing in transforming a space into the favorite room of a house. Improved access to natural light, ventilation, and views are but a few of the main touted benefits of operable glass walls, which can also enhance entertaining and provide a greater connection with nature without compromising indoor comfort.

With the help of LaCantina Doors’ industry-first interactive videos, we’ll walk you through some things to consider when choosing the right retractable glass wall for your home.

The Design Considerations interactive video highlights all the factors to consider when selecting an Open Space product.

The Material Options interactive video recommends the ideal material to use based on your climate. Select the region that best describes your home's environment. 

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 1 of 15 - Glass walls open this living room up to the outdoors.

Glass walls open this living room up to the outdoors.

1. Operation 

From sliding doors to folding doors, large operable glass wall systems can make a significant difference to your lifestyle and home appearance. Here we focus on three popular choices when it comes to creating an indoor-outdoor experience.   

Stacking

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 2 of 15 - LaCantina can create custom stacking multi-slide doors for any opening from two to 12 sliding panels.

LaCantina can create custom stacking multi-slide doors for any opening from two to 12 sliding panels.

An evolution of the simple sliding door, stacking doors comprise multiple sliding panels that stack behind a single fixed pane. For the cleanest appearance, look for stacking doors with that stack flush. 

Pocketing

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 3 of 15 - Pocketing glass doors slide out of sight.

Pocketing glass doors slide out of sight.

The pocketing door system offers an uninterrupted opening provided there’s sufficient wall space to create a custom cavity. The multi-slide panels stack and slide into the wall completely out of view. 

Folding

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 4 of 15 - Folding doors stack accordion-like for a dramatic effect.

Folding doors stack accordion-like for a dramatic effect.

Folding doors, also known as bi-fold doors, are increasingly popular and a visually impressive way to blur the distinction between indoors and out. Multiple glass panels fold accordion-like on hinges and can be stored neatly to one or both sides. This option provides an almost full opening that’s larger than that of stacking doors and just slightly smaller than pocketing doors.

2. Configuration

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 5 of 15 - Users should avoid placing heavy furniture near the glass walls.

Users should avoid placing heavy furniture near the glass walls.

Deciding between a folding, stacking or pocketing multi-slide system depends on more than just aesthetics—intended use, traffic flow, and room layout also come into play when thinking about size, placement, and opening direction.

Intended Use 

The size and placement of a glass door system should be determined by its purpose: are the doors for creating flexible living spaces or for achieving a better view? You may also want to install an additional glazed door for daily use as an alternative to opening the entire system. Expected traffic flow can dictate the best opening direction whether it’s to the left, right, or down the middle. 

Room Layout 

You’ll also need to consider how the room is furnished and how that may affect the glass wall system. Those interested in folding doors need to decide if the folding panels, which stack at 90-degree angles, are best suited for in-swing or out-swing depending on the surroundings and performance requirements. It’s also best to avoid placing heavy furniture around the system. For stacking doors, panels will need to stack to the same side where the least amount of furniture is. With pocketing doors, furnishing is less of an issue.  

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 6 of 15 - An outdoor overhang provides additional protection from the elements.

An outdoor overhang provides additional protection from the elements.

For best results, homeowners should consider custom options. At LaCantina, all door systems are custom-made, with folding options available up to distances of 65 feet wide, 10 feet high, while stacking and pocketing multi slide openings ranging from two to 12 panels with a maximum panel size of up to 12 feet high.

3. Threshold

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 7 of 15 - Weather-resistant thresholds are best for glass walls used as unprotected exterior doors.

Weather-resistant thresholds are best for glass walls used as unprotected exterior doors.

The right threshold or sill can enhance the indoor-outdoor experience, but more importantly should protect your home from outside debris, unwanted critters, water, and wind. Ideally, any glass wall systems used as external doors should be protected with an overhang. In cases without, weather-resistant thresholds should be specified for protection from rain and wind.

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 8 of 15 - A flush threshold provides a seamless experience.

A flush threshold provides a seamless experience.

 For completely protected wall systems or those used indoors, a flush threshold is often preferred for its seamless transitions from indoor to out or from room to room. 

4. Glass

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 9 of 15 - Energy efficiency is a key element in well-crafted glass wall systems.

Energy efficiency is a key element in well-crafted glass wall systems.

The type of glass you choose is extremely important for energy efficiency and safety depending on where your home is located. At LaCantina, double-glazed, low-e tempered glass is the standard option for improved energy efficiency and safety. However, single-pane can be fine for interior applications or in certain tropical environments. In areas of extreme cold or heat, a triple-glazed option is ideal. Impact-rated glass should be selected in areas prone to high winds or in hurricane zones.

 5. Hardware and Finishes

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 10 of 15 - Hardware and finishes can be customized to match existing décor.

Hardware and finishes can be customized to match existing décor.

When it comes to long-term functionality and aesthetics, hardware and finishes should not be overlooked. LaCantina, for instance, offers handle hardware that’s been cycle tested for durability and available in a range of contemporary styles and finishes, as well as custom finishes to best match existing hardware in the house. 

One of the most important pieces of hardware for folding doors is the horizontal structural support installed above the opening. Most folding doors are top-hung, meaning the weight is supported from the top. Top-hung doors translate to effortless gliding—or as LaCantina puts it "finger-tip operation"—and long-lasting durability because the assembly stays clean and dirt-free. In contrast, bottom-hung systems are easier to install but take much more force to operate and can accumulate dirt and damage.   

6. Screening

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 11 of 15 - Retractable screening can provide protection from insects while affording privacy.

Retractable screening can provide protection from insects while affording privacy.

Screens are often overlooked due to price, but the investment can pay off, particularly in areas prone to insects. Retractable screens are the preferred choice for seamless integration with glass wall systems. In addition to insect protection, screens can offer greater privacy and energy efficiency.

7. Material Options

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 12 of 15 - Aluminum frames are an industry favorite due to their durability and narrow profiles.

Aluminum frames are an industry favorite due to their durability and narrow profiles.

Choosing the best material option, like glass, depends on location and climate consideration. For simplicity, we take a look at industry-leading materials available from LaCantina.

Aluminum 

Aluminum is ideal for outdoor applications in temperate climates due to its slim profile and durable, low-maintenance qualities. In areas of more extreme weather, however, aluminum is better suited in secondary openings like patio enclosures or in interiors. 

Aluminum Thermally Controlled

For greater thermal performance, the Aluminum Thermally Controlled system offers a great fit for extreme coastal climates and can be engineered for hurricane zones. This material features a non-conductive thermal strut to minimize the transfer of heat and cold to the home interior. This material also allows for a split finish color option for the exterior and interior providing maximum design flexibility.

Aluminum Wood

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 13 of 15 - Aluminum Wood provides warmth to this modern, clean-lined kitchen.

Aluminum Wood provides warmth to this modern, clean-lined kitchen.

This option offers double duty with an extruded aluminum exterior for durability and weather resistance, while wood is used on the interior for added beauty. The hybrid panel construction is engineered for large openings requiring overside door panels.   

Contemporary Clad

Contemporary Clad is LaCantina’s name for the material option that offers the best of all worlds: a natural wood interior, a robust aluminum exterior offered in a square or sculpted profile to suit any architectural style and excellent thermal efficiency to meet higher energy code demands.  

Wood

Wood is a timeless classic and a beautiful option for glass wall systems. The natural material offers great thermal efficiency but will require more maintenance than aluminum, particularly in outdoor settings.

8. Unique Applications

Glass wall systems can be used for more than just wall replacements. LaCantina offers a look at other creative uses, from a servery window that bridges the space between an indoor kitchen and outdoor entertaining area to a combination Door & Window system or a Zero Post system.

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 14 of 15 - LaCantina’s combination Door & Window system connects their bifold doors to their bifold windows without the need for a supporting post

LaCantina’s combination Door & Window system connects their bifold doors to their bifold windows without the need for a supporting post

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Retractable Glass Walls - Photo 15 of 15 - LaCantina's Zero Post system provides the ultimate in uninterrupted views by eliminating the need for a supporting wall or corner post.

LaCantina's Zero Post system provides the ultimate in uninterrupted views by eliminating the need for a supporting wall or corner post.

To learn more about these unique applications of glass wall systems or to take a closer look at the design considerations and material options listed above, watch LaCantina’s Interactive Videos.

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