When you design a custom home, you have the unique opportunity to not only blur the lines between indoor and outdoor, but virtually eliminate them. Inviting the outdoors in, if you will, extends your living space, provides an abundance of health- and mood-boosting natural light, creates exceptional entertaining (and lounging!) experiences, and increases value.  

Glass walls are the key to three-season success. What is the optimal option for your home, goals, style, and space? 

Glass Walls: A Crystal-Clear Way to Integrate Indoor/Outdoor Spaces

Integrating indoor and outdoor spaces is not a trend anymore; it is a lifestyle. Over the last century, advances in building materials have allowed for large expanses of glass suitable for residential windows. Bigger and better! As industry leader Andersen Windows says, “Now, with the advent of big doors, those massive glass walls have become moveable, bringing the indoors seamlessly to the outside world.”

Exceptional options include:

Stacking Glass Walls 

A stacking glass wall features one fixed panel; each of the others simply stacks up against that. This creates a wide open, relatively unobscured view of the great outdoors. Depending on your design needs and the manufacturer, you can stack three, four, five, or even six panels to one side for an expansive, immersive indoor/outdoor space.  

You also have the freedom to open one, two, or all of your panels to control the amount of air flow into the home. For example, you may want them all wide open on a perfect summer evening to enjoy the breeze, while a panel or two will do to refresh you on a crisp fall day. 

Typically, these walls are framed with high-quality aluminum or aluminum-clad wood for terrific durability and a sleek contemporary look. Color/finish options are virtually unlimited at this point, so you can be sure to find the right fit for your aesthetic.

As with any product that you are considering for your forever home, it is important to weigh potential limitations. Stacker doors limit view obstructions compared to, say, sliding doors, but they do not eliminate them completely. You may also have to be a bit more vigilant when it comes to routine cleaning; the tracks need to be kept clear of debris (sand, dirt, grit, etc.) in order to function optimally.

Folding Glass Walls

Like stacking options, folding glass walls expand your view and minimize visual interruptions. Two or more panels are hinged together at the ends; when you slide them open, they fold together. In contrast to a stacking door, the last panel is not fixed in place. It too moves out. This eliminates another barrier between indoor and outdoor spaces.

There is incredible opportunity here. While folding glass walls require at least two panels, custom options allow for as many as 20 panels (typically ten fold to one side and ten to the other). In other words, you can specify a wall that works for your space and needs, without worrying about constrictions.

Folding glass walls allow ample light and fresh air to enter the home and keep a clean line of sight. Be aware, however, that their design means they extend either inward or outward. There needs to be ample space, so think about the placement of your furniture and other elements of your decor.

And, as with any type of sliding, stacking, or folding door, you need to be aware of Indiana’s unofficial fifth season: mosquito. You may want to invest in screen solutions that are made to fit your glass walls.

Pocketing Glass Walls 

Stacking and folding glass walls minimize visual interruptions and barriers between outdoor and indoor spaces. They blur the lines. Pocketing glass walls erase it completely. 

Pocket doors are an ingenious solution in small spaces that do not have sufficient clearance for a standard door’s swing-out style. This same design innovation makes them a beautiful fit for patios, decks, outdoor kitchens, etc. The panels of the glass wall simply stack together and slide into a “pocket” in the wall. It disappears completely, creating a gorgeous, unobscured, barrier-free vista and unfettered access to the outdoors.  

Custom options leave the possibilities wide-open, ensuring you can have as many panels as you need to suit your space. However, you will need to be aware and plan for adequate cavity space into which the panels can slide – and hide. As with stacking options, you need to make sure the tracks are regularly and thoroughly cleaned. If a problem should develop (however unlikely when you opt for premium manufacturers), it can be a bit more complex to resolve with pocketing doors. 

Which Glass Wall Option Is Best for You? 

When you are creating your dream house, the only “right” answer is the one that will ensure complete satisfaction – now and decades from now. That said, there are some considerations to weigh as you choose the best glass walls for your needs, goals, space, style, and lifestyle: 

  • Room Design. Think about the overall design of your room. Do you have enough wall space for pocket doors? If indoor/outdoor living is a priority, we will ensure that this is a feasible option for you. If other priorities take precedence, stacking or folding glass walls may be the better solution for you. Simply: it’s up to you – and we strive to work with you at every stage to ensure you get exactly what you want. 
  • End Result. How will your selection impact the final view? Will a slight obstruction from a stacking or folding door make that much of a difference? In many cases, the answer is “No.” Great! If the answer is “Yes” … Great! Again, it is up to you and how we can best realize your vision.  
  • Furniture Placement and Room Space. Will stacking or folding doors impede not the view but your furniture and other design elements (e.g., fencing, outdoor kitchen features, etc.)? Will you have to move a table or chairs, for example, in order to open your doors? With pocketing glass walls, this is not an issue.  
  • Overhangs and Thresholds. Ideally, any glass wall system will be protected with an appropriate overhang. This is especially important in places that get more “weather” than California. You want to avoid issues with unwanted water intrusion, wind, critters, debris buildup, etc. At the minimum, think about weather-resistant thresholds. 
  • Screening. As mentioned, mosquitoes and other winged pests are the uninvited guests to our outdoor experiences. Make sure you inquire about and invest in screening options that work with your glass wall system without obscuring view or access. Bonus: screens can also increase privacy and energy efficiency. 
  • Personal Preference. It all comes back to this: What. Do. You. Want? We can make it happen. 

Explore Your Expansive Glass Wall Options 

Large-scale glass walls became popular in locales like the Golden State, blessed with abundant sunshine and warm year-round temperatures. Here in Indiana, we do see a lot of sun – but we also see a lot of cloudy days and some very cold winter months. That makes it all the more important to maximize our enjoyment, efficiency, exposure to vitamin D when we can! 

What’s the right choice for you? The best way to determine the answer is to discuss your goals and vision with G&G Custom Homes. Share your ideas with us, and let’s make your dream home a reality