Sliding Doors vs Pivot Doors

Sliding Doors vs Pivot Doors

Sliding doors and pivot doors work differently but are both available for exterior entry applications. Sliding doors are typically used for alternate entries like back or side patio entry. Pivot doors on the other hand are usually used for front entry but can also be used for patio entry. 

If you're weighing your options for a new patio door, keep reading to learn more about how each of these styles work, their pros and cons, and additional considerations. 

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How Do Sliding Patio Doors Work?

Sliding doors operate just like it sounds, they slide. There are many parts to a sliding door including the door panels, the track, and the door frame. The track is located in the door frame and can be made from metal, vinyl, or wood. When you open and close the door, you have to slide the door panel horizontally along the track until it comes to the end of the frame. 

The best and most durable sliding patio doors are top-hung doors. Remember that because you'll also find many bottom-rolling doors. Top-hung doors slide from the track in the top of the door frame and they're less likely to run into debris that makes it difficult to operate. Bottom-rolling doors are less durable because dirt and debris build up in the bottom track, all that debris can wear down the rollers and obstruct the roller's path. 

A sliding door doesn't have many options when it comes to locking systems. Typically, there is a latch on the sliding panel that clicks into place on the frame when pushed into the locking position. High-end sliding doors have a multi-point mechanism that also locks at the top of the door.

Sliding doors are used to create an inviting entry to the patio. All the glass in sliding doors allows light into the home but also allows for a clear view to the outside. It's not typically used as a front entry door but is sometimes used as an alternate entry on homes with verandas.

How Do Pivot Doors Work?

Pivot doors have fewer parts than sliding doors do. That makes them easier to fix and figure out if something goes wrong when you try to open or close them. 

A pivot door works by swinging, or pivoting, on a spindle attached to the upper and lower parts of the door connecting to the frame above and the ground below. There are three primary parts of its construction, including the door itself, the frame that fits into the entry portal, and the spindle that allows the door to swing. Depending on the way the door gets installed, it can have an inswing or an outswing. The placement of the spindle and the space available through the doorway vary from door to door.

Pivot doors aren't common in American homes. We're more likely to find them in commercial spaces but door manufacturers are increasingly making these commercial and luxury doors more widely available for residential applications. They make a great option as a front door or patio door.

What are the Pros and Cons of Sliding Doors?

Sliding doors are generally more of a cost-effective choice when comparing them to pivot doors, but what else should you consider?


  • Sliding doors are easy to use.
  • There are plenty of manufacturers that make products and replacements.
  • They are relatively easy to fix.
  • Sliding doors are a cost-effective choice.


  • Damage to any part of the door system can make it difficult to operate.
  • Sliding doors aren't the most secure door option.
  • The bottom and sidetracks need consistent cleaning.

What are the Pros and Cons of Pivot Doors?

Pivot doors are functional statement pieces. This style is growing in popularity but there is more to consider other than its unique style.


  • Pivot doors are a unique addition to any home.
  • They seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • Hardware is easily adjusted to affect the function.


  • Pivot doors are very expensive.
  • Pivot doors can warp, drag, be overextended, and they're not very weather-resistant.
  • They can be difficult to install, only trust experienced door technicians with this type of door.

Sliding Doors vs. Pivot Doors, Which are Better?

That depends on who you're talking to and what you're comparing. Based on popularity? Sliding doors win. Based on wow-factor, pivot doors win.

Sliding doors are the most popular style of patio doors today. Quality doors are available from a wide range of manufacturers in multiple styles, colors, and configurations. Choose this door if you're looking for something that's beautiful, durable, and affordable. 

If you want something that sets your house apart from others, choose the pivot door style. Pivot door options are more limited but they're also customizable. You can choose pivot doors that are made with glass panels or solid panels like a front door. 

For more information about sliding or pivot doors check out our related articles below or explore our sliding door and pivot door product options.


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