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Ranchsliders® have long been a popular feature of New Zealand homes. After all, with such beautiful country all around us, it's not surprising that homeowners want to do everything in their power to bring the outside in. Often, the challenge for builders is to find a sliding door solution that combines a seamless indoor-outdoor transition with functionality and performance. Today we'll be looking at a product from Altus Window Systems that does just that: LevelStep®. We'll explain what it is, and describe some of the features that make it such a great choice for home build projects across NZ.


LevelStep® creates a seamless transition between the inside and outside of a property.


What is LevelStep®?

LevelStep® is a door sill that does away with the lip or step commonly associated with traditional internal Ranchslider® doors. As such, it's main feature is creating a flat progression between the inside and outside of a building.


What are the advantages of LevelStep®?

From a home builder's perspective, there are several key benefits:

1. Improved visual flow

Creating a visual and functional flat or level transition between the internal and external parts of a property has long been a goal in sliding door joinery.

Here's a brief history:

  1. A traditional Ranchslider® door with an internal sliding panel and an awning window - This is a classic Kiwi combination that many still love to see in their homes today. However, with older sliding doors, trying to reduce the height of the step-over sill was a problem. There were also issues with the creation of an internal trough - more on that later.
  2. Euroslider® doors - The move to external sliding doors solved part of the problem with door sill flatness, and eliminated the internal trough entirely. The problem here was these external sliders always come with a low step, and also remove the possibility of the classic awning window combo, due to the risk of collisions between the moving door panel and opening windows.

This is where LevelStep® comes in. It allows for flat look sills, hides the internal trough and allows builders to combine sliding doors with awning windows. All of this while also eliminating the ever troublesome step.

2. Hiding the internal trough

The troughs created by traditional Ranchslider® are hotspots for the build up of detritus, including fur and flies. If left unmaintained they can cause drainage issues for the property.

While LevelStep® doesn't remove this trough, the track for the sliding door will cover it. This means the gap is less visible to homeowners, and will help prevent the accumulation of debris.

3. Safety of movement

Removing the lip from sliding doors doesn't just have aesthetic benefits, it also eradicates a potentially dangerous trip hazard. While this is an attractive feature for any homeowner, especially those with young children, it also means LevelStep® is a great choice for properties designed for people with limited mobility. Aged care facilities in particular stand to benefit from this sill as it will allow people using wheelchairs or walking frames to safely move in and out.

As well as aesthetic benefits, LevelStep® eliminates a dangerous trip hazard.


4. Ease of installation

While LevelStep® solves many of the problems of traditional sliding doors, the installation process is practically identical. The frame will fit into a standard opening and there's no change to how you interface the building. Essentially, if you can fit a normal sliding door, you can fit a LevelStep® sliding door!

Although the most common use of LevelStep® is in new builds, it may be able to be retrofitted to our conventional frames, as long as you're not dealing with a very archaic sliding door which may require new sliding door panels. This is again thanks to LevelStep®'s compatibility with conventional slider frames.

5. Flexibility of use

Every project and client is different, so we've designed LevelStep® to work across the range of Altus Window Systems Ranchslider® doors. What's more, it's as at home on a first or second floor balcony as it is on your ground floor deck.

6. High performance

Incorporating the LevelStep® feature into your sliding and stacking doors does not impact on their performance. That said, the Ranchslider®, with it's ability to incorporate awning windows, the LevelStep® sill and performance capabilities up to very high wind zones offer a real advantage to many home designs.

Pullquote: A Ranchslider® is not a Ranchslider if it's not made by Altus Window Systems. Technically it is a sliding door where the moving door is an internal sliding panel.

If you're unsure whether or not LevelStep® is appropriate for your new build or renovation, we recommend getting in touch with our Altus Window Systems supplier network for advice and alternative solutions.

At Altus Window Systems, we're very proud of LevelStep®. We believe this streamlined feature is the answer to many of the long-term bugbears that have existed with regards to sliding doors in New Zealand, and we're excited to see it in action in more and more builds across the country.

If you have any outstanding questions on how LevelStep® works, and the ways you can incorporate it into your next project, get in touch today.