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How to Find Out if Your Patio Door is Vinyl or Aluminum
So, you’ve decided that you want an insulated dog door for sliding glass doors, and that’s an excellent choice for getting your pet in and out of the house. However, before purchasing a pet door patio panel, it’s important to understand the difference between aluminum patio doors and vinyl patio doors.
Endura Flap Sliding Glass Pet Doors offer both aluminum frames and vinyl frames so that you can choose the material that works best with your current sliding glass door. Vinyl panels like the Endura Flap Severe Weather Vinyl Sliding Glass Dog Door and it's custom height version fit vinyl sliding glass doors better whereas aluminum panels are more compatible with aluminum sliding glass doors.
While this might be a straightforward idea, it’s not always clear what kind of sliding glass door you have! Below, we’ll walk you through the process of selecting a dog door for aluminum sliding patio doors and for vinyl sliding patio doors:
- How to tell if you have an aluminum or vinyl sliding door
- The differences between vinyl and aluminum pet doors
- Endura Flap patio panel pet door options for sliders
- Quick links to sliding pet door installation guides
The first step in choosing a patio pet door is identifying whether your existing sliding glass door has a vinyl frame or an aluminum frame.
Tap the Frame: The best way to know the material of your slider is to tap it with your fingers or a pen. The noise that you hear will tell you what material it’s made of. If it makes a panging noise like a frying pan, it is aluminum. If it makes a muted thunk, it is made of vinyl.
Measure the Track: Another way of guessing at the material is to measure the track and look at the wall thickness. Vinyl frames will be thicker and have a wider track. This is less accurate than the tapping method because different door brands will have different thicknesses and measurements. There is no such thing as a standard sliding glass door, but this may indicate which frame material yours has.
Once you know the material of your sliding door frame, it’s time to choose the right pet door panel for you. The biggest difference between vinyl and aluminum patio doors is the panel thickness: Aluminum panels are 1” thick and vinyl panels are 1.5” thick.
Another way of guessing at the material is to measure the track and look at the wall thickness. Vinyl frames will be thicker and have a wider track. This is less accurate than the tapping method because different door brands will have different thicknesses and measurements. There is no such thing as a standard sliding glass door.
Vinyl Sliding Doors: Vinyl sliding doors are made from a plastic-based material, but are just as strong as aluminum, and significantly lighter. Vinyl patio doors tend to be more energy-efficient, as the vinyl does not transfer heat as much as Aluminum. Vinyl sliding doors have thicker frames and wider tracks than Aluminum ones.
Aluminum Sliding Doors: Aluminum is the more standard and common material used for sliding doors, particularly for older homes. Aluminum doors are often inexpensive and require little to no upkeep for many years. Aluminum sliders are thinner and generally have a smaller track width than their vinyl cousins.
Can you use a vinyl panel for your aluminum slider?
Let’s say your aluminum sliding door track is 1.5” thick. You could install a vinyl panel pet door since the track width would accommodate it. However, the thick vinyl framing would not match the material of your slider, resulting in a less aesthetic look.
And vice versa, although a vinyl sliding door track could accommodate an aluminum pet door panel with the right track width, the framing would not match and the pet door panel would not fit as securely in the track.
The one instance when we may recommend an aluminum panel for your vinyl slider is if you have an unusually tall track height since aluminum panels come in taller, custom height options whereas vinyl panels max out at 80.25” tall. Here’s how to measure your track height:
Endura Flap has multiple great options for both vinyl sliding doors and aluminum sliding doors. Take a look at each of our products, and pick the one best suited for your home and your pet. Alternatively, you can look through our full selection of pet doors for sliding glass doors for more options.
Vinyl Panel Options:
Endura Flap Vinyl Sliding Glass Dog Door: The standard choice among dog doors for vinyl sliding glass doors. It has all the same dual-pane LoE glass and award-winning Endura Flap pet door that comes with the Thermo Panel 3e.
Endura Flap Severe Weather Vinyl Sliding Glass Dog Door: A more robust version of the Vinyl Sliding Glass Dog Door, with a double flap Endura Flap for extra energy efficiency and insulation.
Endura Flap Vinyl Sliding Glass Cat Door: Cats need to get out, too! This Vinyl Sliding Glass Cat Door has all the benefits of the Thermo Panel and Endura Flap in the small size flexible flap for your cat.
Aluminum Panel Options:
Endura Flap Thermo Panel 3e: The best seller of the Endura Flap panel line, the Thermo Panel 3e combines quality materials with exceptional design to bring you energy efficiency and durability worthy of our lifetime warranty. The dual-pane glass panel keeps your home insulated year-round. Read about dual-pane vs single-pane glass to learn more.
Endura Flap Thermo Panel 3e: This panel is the best option for renters or seasonal homes. It can be easily removed and installed repeatedly. It is single flap and single-paned, which saves weight and makes installation quick and easy.
Before ordering your panel, you should read up on choosing the right pet door size for your dog or cat. It will help you decide what size you need for whatever Endura Flap panel you get.
Want to learn more about Installations? Take a look at our archive of Pet Door Installation videos. In these archives, you’ll find how to install a vinyl patio panel and how to install an aluminum patio panel.
Still confused about the difference between Vinyl and Aluminum doors? Not sure which you have? Check out the different types of sliding glass pet doors for more options.