“Bringing the outside in is done in more than just one way,’’ Sheppard said. “It used to be done with windows, doors and skylights. There are many options available for these and materials they are constructed from. When it comes to doors, there are wood, aluminum, vinyl and composite. There are single and multi-panel, as well as hinged, sliding and even folding. A current trend is to use multi-panel folding doors which allow any wall to open to the outdoors."
The innovative approach of using folding doors to bring in the outdoors can be used residentially as well as in commercial settings, like restaurants, to expand the usable area. They are most frequently utilized in homes with shoreline properties. However, people whose homes sit high with clear, wide-ranging views may also like this option, along with any homeowners who enjoy cool breezes and fresh air.
“It’s becoming more and more popular because it’s becoming more available,’’ Sheppard said. “It seems everyone makes folding doors now. Almost every manufacturer makes them and the cost has come down. It’s a very neat concept.”
Sheppard said open-air concepts were very popular in the 1970s. As homeowners sought to become more energy efficient in the 1980s and ‘90s, the trend in home building changed as builders used wood, instead of aluminum, in their architecture. Now, the pendulum has swung back towards aluminum as manufacturers have improved its energy efficiency.
“What we’re doing is keeping more contemporary architecture but adding in more energy efficient products,’’ Sheppard said.
Rising energy costs have helped spur the current trend toward more homeowners using folding doors to bring the outside in, taking advantage of both passive solar in colder months and natural ventilation in warmer months.
“We’ve seen it supplied in houses that are totally off the grid,’’ Sheppard said. “Some people actually sell solar energy back to the town. That’s the extreme. Manufacturers are taking what they have with homes and making it work, and with the efficiency that homeowners require.”
Homeowners have plenty of options with the folding doors. They come in various colors, shapes and sizes. Marvin Doors, one of the brands that is carried by Clearview, shows on its website lift and slide doors, bi-fold doors and multi-slide doors. Some of the doors can even slide into pockets.
“Especially along the shore, you have to meet the design pressure that will come from the wind and water infiltration,’’ said Sheppard, whose father, Jay, started Clearview in 1972. Rusty took over daily operations in 2003. “If you’re going to use them, you need to know where your exposure is. You wouldn’t want the door to face north. You’re also going to need to make sure where it’s installed has the proper overhangs.”
Sheppard said it’s important to analyze details before installing any door. Wind, rain, sun and vantage points are some considerations. “We work with the best contractors in the state to make sure it’s done the best way that it possibly can be,’’ Sheppard said. “We want to make sure we’re using the right products for the right application.”
For more information about Clearview’s products, visit its website or call 203-334-5503.