A Brief Guide To Bi-Fold Doors

A Brief Guide To Bi-Fold Doors

In this handy guide, we take a look at some of the benefits and considerations of installing bi-fold doors in your home. Could they work for you?

How do bi-folds work?

While French doors only open up a section of floor-to-ceiling glazing, bi-folds open fully due to their clever concertina design. Bi-folds are mounted on tracks which feature numerous pivot points, enabling lightweight folding and stacking.

Used as main traffic doors, they allow for easy entry and exit without opening the entire installation and they can be fitted at floor level to prevent tripping.

What are the benefits?

• They bring the outside in;

• Bi-folds seamlessly connect the indoors with the outdoors. Perfect for those mild, summer evenings when you enjoy your garden from the comfort of your home!

• They maximise space and light;

• Spanning an entire wall, bi-folds create the illusion of space, which is great if you’re short on room inside your home. At the same time, they allow as much natural light as possible to flood into the indoor space, giving it a bright and airy feel;

• They’re fairly compact when closed (but bulky when open, see section below for details);

• They’re low maintenance;

• Bi-folds are easy to maintain and clean, particularly in comparison to windows with numerous panes inside one frame. Often, bi-folds can be cleaned with regular, good quality cleaner used for other windows and glass doors;

And the negatives?

There are a few down-sides to bi-fold doors that you should also be aware of:

• If you’re short on space, bear in mind that when bi-folds are open, they stack back and take up quite a lot of room; however, there are various options available for ‘stacking’: inside the frame (so the doors will be stacked inside the building), completely outside the frame, or halfway between the two so that they stack on the runner itself. In this way, it’s possible to select the most useful and space saving position for you;

• Because bi-fold doors are larger than traditional French windows, they can be more susceptible to the effects of wind and rain. You’ll need to consider whether your doors will be located in a windy area, and if so, you’ll need to take steps to install magnets to stop them slamming, particularly onto little fingers if you’ve got young children;

• As each panel of a bi-fold door needs to be framed, there are lots of vertical casement lines which can restrict the view more than traditional French windows.

• Bi-fold thresholds can become clogged with dirt and grit, which needs to be cleaned out on a regular basis – not a huge problem, but again, something to be aware of.

An Alternative…

Another option that you could consider alongside bi-folds and traditional patio doors, is the Wave door. This style is great because it’s entirely flexible and uses a combination of sliding and traditional glass doors. The Wave door system means you can pick and choose which sections are open at any one time – and it also removes the issue of stacked up bulky bi-fold doors.

Are Bi-Folds secure?

Bi-fold doors feature a locking system which is spread out across numerous points along the sliding track. Due to this, they are considered more secure than French or sliding doors, which tend to have just one locking point.

To ensure maximum security, make sure you buy your bi-fold doors from a well-respected manufacturer. The locking system should meet the police preferred ‘Secured by Design’ standards; high quality bi-fold doors have integrated multipoint locking systems, with shoot bolts and hooked locks.

What materials are available?

You can order bi-fold doors in a number of materials; the most affordable – but arguably least durable – is uPVC. You could also choose hardwood or softwood timber door frames, bearing in mind that solid hardwood tends to be the most durable out of the two.

One of the most popular options is aluminium. These bi-folds are strong and durable whilst being light and simple to use at the same time. Aluminium doors suit more contemporary builds, while timber may be more fitting for a classic property or barn conversion.

Aluminium is comparatively stronger than UPVC or timber, which means that your frame is very durable, and this can in turn help to reduce the size of the required framework, which can cut down on the visibility issues mentioned above. However, timber used in bi-fold windows is usually engineered, so while it’s not as strong as aluminium, if you make sure you’re buying a quality product, this is a good alternative. One major disadvantage of timber frames is that they are heavy, and if you’re expecting to open and close bi-folds regularly, this may become a factor to consider.

Maintenance-wise, aluminium is your easiest option, because they are usually powder-coated. However, a timber frame (whilst high maintenance) looks fantastic and adds a touch of class to the final look of the windows. UPVC is the cheapest, but not necessarily the best, option. Although they are easy to maintain, they can also scratch easily, and frames made from UPVC are usually fairly bulky. The final look is typically less ‘high-end’ as well, so I’d recommend you consider wooden or aluminium frames for a long-lasting, premium product.

Let us help

If you’re considering renovating or building your own home, why not let Bespoke help turn your dream into reality? To find out more, just give one of our friendly team members a call or pop into our Bristol office.