For a long time, Americans made do with doors that measured 80 inches tall. But now, as homeowners upsize their homes and everything in them, it seems natural that doors follow suit.

Maumee, Ohio-based Therma-Tru is very aware of this trend. The company says that demand for its 8-foot doors has surged dramatically over the last two years, increasing 123 percent in 2001 and 116 percent in 2002. Consequently, the manufacturer has been developing taller systems to meet the growing demand. Almost all of its lines are now available in 8-foot sizes.

But why are people big on big doors? A recent change in architectural styles is one reason. "I think [the popularity of big doors] has been led by volume builders," says Joe Todd, president of window distributor Western Sash and Door Co., in Oakland, Calif. "Many of them are making their ceilings 10 feet and higher, so they are using the 8-foot doors. They make the home appear bigger than it actually is." Todd, a former Andersen distributor who recently began selling Marvin products, says large doors, especially Andersen hinged patio doors measuring 8 feet, accounted for a huge segment of his business when he was selling Andersen; he expects the same to be true with Marvin.

Bayport, Minn.-based Andersen says that sales of large patio doors continue to grow in part because of the trend toward outdoor living. As more homeowners extend their interior living spaces outside, they want better visual and physical connections to the outdoors. Usually, that effect is created with either a greater quantity of smaller doors or, more recently, with a few very large doors.

Another reason for super-sizing is geography: Large doors are hot in hotter parts of the country. The style is prevalent nationwide, but Chris Brown, brand manager and national sales manager for Peachtree Doors and Windows in Norcross, Ga., says larger sizes are particularly noticeable in Florida, the Southwest, and the West Coast.

"It's really just the style of the home," Brown says. "In Florida, for example, everything is on one floor, and they don't have to worry about cold temperatures."

And Peachtree caters to the demand, offering many of its doors in an 8-foot size.

Courtesy Peachtree

Grand entrances: In response to consumer demand, the manufacturer has expanded its premium entry door line to include 8-foot-tall panels and sidelights. The doors also have a new high-performance weep system in the sill that channels water away from the home to prevent structural damage. An adjustable threshold helps prevent drafts and a 1 1/2-inch-thick polyurethane core provides an insulation value as much as six times that of wood, the company says. Peachtree. 800-732-2499.

French revolution: With solid brass hardware and natural pine interiors, the 400 Series Frenchwood patio door looks good but is designed to be weather resistant in downpours, the manufacturer says. It has an interlocking weatherstrip that zips the door shut and a lock system that pulls the door snug against the weatherstrip. Standard interior grilles are either solid, unfinished maple, or pre-finished in white, sandtone, or Terratone colors. It is available in a variety of sizes, including 8-foot heights. Andersen. 651-264-5150.

Courtesy Therma-Tru

Slim fast: Slim-Line patio door systems combine the durability of fiberglass with thermal performance and a trouble-free track system. The frame will not warp, crack, rot, swell, or split, says the manufacturer. The door features tempered low-E glass and double weather-stripping for comfort and energy efficiency. Optional internal grids are available in white, almond, stone, and bronze. Doors are available in one-, two-, three-, and four-panel configurations in a range of widths and in 8-foot heights. Therma-Tru. 800-537-8827.

Courtesy Marvin

Ultra slide: Integrity sliding French doors have a solid pine interior, a sturdy dual-point lock, and an exterior made of Ultrex, a high-performance fiberglass material that resists fading, marring, scratching, and chalking, and it outperforms and outlasts vinyl and roll-form aluminum, the company says. It has an easy-glide roller track made of strong and durable polycarbonate, and the frames come pre-assembled and pre-hung, which minimizes installation time. The door comes in 8-foot sizes. Marvin. 800-537-8263.

For more product information, visit Hanley-Wood's interactive product catalog, ebuild on BUILDER Online.