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How Can You Create Exterior Glass Walls Using Sliding Doors?

Exterior glass walls are huge architectural glazing units that have to be engineered precisely to ensure that the structural load is secure, and the system is weathertight. With more ambitious glass facades being specified and architects wanting to integrate sliding doors within these facades, we are often asked if these sizes and specifications can be achieved.  

Slim sliding doors are the ideal system to integrate within a glass façade, or to create a glass façade that consists of sliding doors themselves. With minimal 21mm sightlines using minimal windows sliding doors means that no compromise is made when it comes to maximum viewing.  

A common misconception is that exterior glass walls and sliding doors can only be specified for new build homes or houses that have a contemporary aesthetic. This is not true at all. Exterior glass walls can elevate all sorts of projects and bring new life and an abundance of light to all projects.  

How are Sliding Doors Integrated into a Glass Façade?

Sliding door integration into glass facades can be done in a variety of ways. The standard configuration that is seen is a façade that consists of sliding doors with a handful of fixed panes installed either side of the doors. This can achieve a wide façade which is great for filling an opening which spans the whole width of a project.  

For an even larger external glass wall, sliding doors can be paired with structural glazing to expand the facade upwards. Essentially, structural glass can be “stacked” on-top of sliding doors (providing the structure can take the weight load) to create an even taller external glass wall with the access option of the sliders still present.  

Due to the large leaf sizes of the minimal windows system, double height sliding doors can also be used to create a fully opening façade that can span over 12ft tall. The minimal windows 4+ system allows for even larger opening sizes.  

The Performance of Exterior Glass Walls.

With such a large glazing installation, thermal performance, structural soundness and solar gain are all issues that must be considered. With ultra slim sliding doors by minimal windows the thermal values achieved are exceptional. 1-1.2 Uw values are expected as standard and with thermally broken frames these levels are guaranteed. The thermal break completely nullifies the chance of thermal bridging which is common in most aluminium framed systems.  

Solar gain is also a concern with vast external glass walls. With our specialist solar control coating the “greenhouse effect” is kept to a minimum. This allows for comfortable living when the sliding doors are closed even if the UV radiation from the sun is substantial.  

external glass walls

How Large Can an Exterior Glass Wall Be?

The minimal windows sliding door range has various sizes and configurations to ensure that nearly any opening is suitable for our systems.  

The standard minimal windows system can be specified to a total of 8.5m2 per sliding pane, with a maximum height of 4 meters tall. This system is completed with a total pane weight of 500kg.  

A step further from the minimal windows system is the minimal windows 4+ sliders. This system can feature sliding panes at a maximum of 12m2 with a 4.5m max height. For the 4+, the pane height is doubled for a total of 1000kg.  

For the largest sizes possible the minimal windows Next Generation System (NGS) can be specified for 18m2 per sliding pane with max heights of 6m2. The maximum pane weight is also triple the standard system for a total of 1500kg.  

These options allow for a huge variety of door sizes that can cater to almost any external glass wall project.


For more information, contact the minimal windows team today.