Sliding doors are becoming more popular in the states as open space interior design takes hold and universal design becomes more than just a buzz word.

Long a fixture in Europe, sliding doors are now being developed that can do more than slide back and forth on a simple track. New hardware technology allows sliding doors to pivot, fold, slant and suspend. And co-planer hardware allows doors to flush fit when closed. Servo drive controllers can automate sliding door opening and closing functions and in some cases synchronize those motions. Silent and soft open and close hardware options are also offered by some sliding door manufacturers.

Another feature that designers find attractive about these doors is that they can be mounted from the top making it unnecessary to reconfigure the floor to install the track guide.

Many designers are now specing sliding doors for more than just the master bedroom closet. Whether closing off a dining room area from the living room or hiding pantry shelving, these sliding options are opening doors to more flexible design styles as well as offering a more modern, contemporary look.

As a matter of fact, a developing trend in kitchen cabinetry is the use of sliding doors for cabinets with younger home owners opting for this design element. Add the fact that some companies offer sliding door customization and you can see why these products are beginning to take off in America.

For instance Richelieu Hardware introduced a new concealed top sliding door system to its sliding door line with track mounting on the ceiling and wall front and with single or dual door panels. And Sugatsune has two new standard sliding door systems for light, medium and heavy applications.

Also, the beauty of a sliding door is that it can make a smaller space appear larger, much like mirrors but they also offer hidden storage options and can work as room dividers, which is appealing for homeowners dwelling in tight, metro lofts or condos.

The growing recognition and popularity of sliding doors has also been highlighted at both domestic and international design trade shows.

At the 2011 Cabinets & Closets Expo in Austin, TX, Indeco, a sliding door manufacturer, won the Association of Closet & Storage Professionals (ACSP) award for innovation. Indeco sliding door systems come in a variety of aluminum frames and colors, giving the user the ability to offer custom doors.

At the 2013 Kitchen & Bath Show (KBIS), held in New Orleans in April, sliding door features were shown to highlight universal design as a growing part of interior design. With an aging population, designers are finding it necessary to offer solutions that are not only beautiful but have ease-of-use, especially for someone with limited mobility. Also, the soft-close and open features may well be appealing to someone suffering from arthritis relieving them of the necessity of gripping door handles or knobs.

Interzum 2013, held in Cologne, Germany in May, many sliding door manufacturers were showcased, with Hettich and Hafele among them. 

At KBIS, Hafele America showed a sideways-opening tambour door on an island cabinet, which provides ease of access to cabinet interiors for less mobile users. A few months later, at Interzum 2013, Hafele showed its Aluflex doors (shown below), which were subsequently launched in the U.S. in June. 

The Aluflex Sliding Door System can be ordered, customized and pre-assembled through Häfele's online service. This aluminum-framed sliding door system fits functionally and stylishly in closets, living rooms, garages, office areas and other spaces where doors are needed, but space is at a premium. (Aluflex is available with a soft-close dampening mechanism to prevent noise from door slamming.) 

To help design and order Aluflex, Häfele has developed the H-to-O service and an online configurator application, notes Mae Holler, product manager for Häfele. “H-to-O allows us to quickly quote, provide drawings and ship ready-to-install products to our customers,” says Holler.

Hafele Aluflex sliding door systems Hafele-to-Order onlineAluflex orders can be customized through the H-to-O service by selecting the dimensions, number of panels, mullions, finish and material including wood, glass, Ecoresin and mirrors. Shipments of the pre-assembled doors will arrive within one-to-three weeks after placing the order.

A bottom-mounted track allows Aluflex to maintain stability regardless of surrounding structural components and silently slide on carpets, tile or wood. Designs are available to accommodate doors up to 88 lbs. and 176 lbs.

Hettich, with its slogan “Slide it. Love it,” showcased its new sliding door systems at Interzum for flush full length fronts and cabinetry as well as its system that combines open and closed sections in furniture. Soft close options were also available.

Salice introduced a complete line of sliding door systems manufactured in Italy. Although the main focus is on coplanar sliding movements, additional vertical and horizontal systems are available, all compatible with multiple door solutions.

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