If you are looking for a practical and stylish way to add space and light to your living space without remodeling your home, the introduction of bi-fold doors to your house will prove to be much more than a casual improvement.
Bi-fold doors are a great way to seamlessly integrate your home with natural surroundings. Who doesn’t want more natural light and fresh air? Bi-fold doors offer all these perks and much more and they are definitely becoming increasingly popular.
For this reason, we have compiled a list of the advantages as well as some of the drawbacks you should look out for when going for bi-fold doors for your home.
Why You Should Get a Bi-fold Door
First and foremost, bi-fold doors are widely considered to have lots of advantages that make them more preferable than their traditional counterparts.
Basically, the bi-fold door mechanism allows each pane to operate in conjunction with the others via hinges between each pane. If installed properly, such a door offers several major advantages to every home that will make your house look brighter and bigger from the inside.
Bi-fold Doors are Functional
To begin with, a number of people are into bi-fold doors because of their ability to fully open in a seamless transition from the inside to the outside of a room.
In most cases, as much as 90% of the width of the doorway can be opened. Traffic doors are a popular configuration that eliminates the need to open every leaf of the structure. This is quite practical since you won’t have to clear any additional space in front of either side of the doorway.
Unlike patio doors, bi-fold doors can be easily installed flush with the floor for a far safer and more attractive outcome. Furthermore, this will further facilitate the quick exit and entrance in and out of the particular room. Basically, the result of installing a bi-fold door is an addition of living space without the need for rebuilding or remodeling.
Easy to install
Of course, bi-fold doors do not only offer compactness but also practicality. You can easily install a bi-fold door in a small opening or even replace an entire wall.
This makes for an easy open up to natural light and fresh air. What’s more, you won’t have any protrusion problems and so on because bi-fold doors are usually fitted on tracks with several folding points for a neat stack of every pane.
In addition, you’ll find yourself at much bigger ease to maintain uPVC and aluminum bi-fold doors because all you need is to wipe down each pane with a universal window cleaning fluid from time to time.
If you enjoy privacy or seclusion from the outside world, you can install source bespoke blinds. For those who have children, there is a variety of finger-safe and anti-bump features that help to prevent accidents.
They are Versatile
Yet another advantage, the versatility makes this type of doors suitable for both contemporary and traditional homes. In fact, the bi-fold structure allows you to choose from a wide range of styles, configurations, and designs no matter how your home looks.
What’s more, you can easily change styles due to the fact that bi-fold structures can be chopped, changed and accommodated. All in all, these doors are so versatile they can suit even the most unconventional layouts.
They are Stylish
In addition, the range of materials that can be used can also impact the style of your home. Generally, aluminum is considered a common choice for bi-fold doors because of its strength and lightweight structure.
It’s also easier to maintain and has a longer lifespan. However, you can always turn to timber frames if you’re into the good old traditional style. After you’ve chosen your material, you can effortlessly pick woodgrain, metallic or powder coating in your color of choice to further enhance your home’s look.
They offer Security
As mentioned above, bi-folds can offer excellent security whereas there are several locking points in each structure. It’s suggested that the panes are fitted on completely enclosed tracks in order to prevent intruders from lifting them up.
The Disadvantages of Bi-fold Doors
Even though most bi-fold door manufacturers claim that this type of doors is virtually flawless. However, there are some possible drawbacks that should be taken into consideration.
Frames take up too much space
Obviously, bi-fold structures consist of different folding panes, each with an individual frame. This can be annoying as it may obstruct the view. On the contrary, the issue can be fixed by making the frames as slender as possible as well as avoiding the use of darker colors in order to prevent the highlighting of the structure.
The lack of threshold
To most, this might be a big positive. However, the lack of a threshold could be a huge problem if there’s water leakage. A good idea, in this case, is to introduce a drainage system or create a slight slope away from the door.
Additionally, when folding the panes, everything stacks and folds from the inside. This can make the door really intrusive, especially if you have limited indoor space. For this reason, it’s best advised that you ask your installer for advice.
Unfortunately, bi-fold doors are not that cheap. Usually, it’s all because of the big installations which require a large amount of glass and framing. What’s more, lots of installations need bespoke designs and it’s good to know that the type of glass and finish will all affect the home’s price.
Which Material to Choose for Your Bi-fold Door
If you have already decided to install bi-fold doors in your home, there are several factors you should bear in mind when choosing the right material for your doors.
Depending on your needs and preferences, you can either choose your bi-fold doors to be from timber, aluminium or uPVC. Of course, they all vary in terms of performance, longevity and aesthetics, each type having their strengths and weaknesses.
Apart from size and placement, strength is considered among the most important features a bi-fold door should have. Obviously, the frames have to be strong and durable enough to be able to support the huge glass panes as well as any inclement weather.
Talking about glass, since it takes up most of the bi-fold door, it definitely has an impact on thermal efficiency. However, the frames also affect the overall performance, so the thermal efficiency, or the U-value, varies in the three different materials. Basically, all bi-fold doors are expected to have a U-value of a minimum of 1.8W/m2.
In addition, maintenance can sometimes be quite arduous, so it may be a good idea to choose a material that will eliminate the constant need to repair, repaint or replace different parts of the door. For this reason, it’s advisable that you choose a material that is able to hold up to the climate in your region.
Although this may not be the factor of the highest importance, looks do have a big influence on your choice. With this in mind, it’s vital to make sure that you choose a material that looks or suit better to your house’s overall style. This will drastically improve the aesthetics in your house as well as your level of satisfaction.
Frankly, bi-fold doors’ prices can put you off if you are on a strict budget. However, you should bear in mind that you’ll get what you pay for and sometimes it’s a better idea to bet on a product that will last three times as long, even though it will cost you twice the amount, to begin with.
Without any doubt, this is the strongest material of all three types of bi-fold door materials. Aluminium delivers several other perks – it’s lightweight and easy to operate. Also, the smaller frames leave out additional space for more glass for a better outside view.
Moreover, due to the strength of the metal, aluminum can be used for coastal locations or places where the door would be frequently exposed to sunlight.
A well-known fact, aluminium has very poor thermal efficiency and loses heat quite quickly. To compensate this, most aluminium bi-fold doors include a thermal break which is made of a less conductive material.
To make things even better, aluminium is widely used as recycling material. This is probably the most environmentally-friendly material of all three. Additionally, aluminium bi-fold doors require very low maintenance and need only one cleaning a year.
Often, the aluminium framework is finished with powder coating for better resistance. The solvent-free powder offers over 150 RAL colors and finishes and this is a big advantage for aluminium bi-fold doors because it gives you the chance to get matching entryways no matter if your home is contemporary or traditional. For coastal climates, you can add a marine-grade finish in order to prevent rusting processes.
All in all, aluminium is quite well-rounded when it comes to bi-fold doors. Although aluminium bi-fold doors are the most expensive option, they can exceed 30 years of life easily which is considerably more than the timber and uPVC counterparts. Last but not least, you get thinner frameworks with a stronger and more durable construction that will surely deliver perfect views.
If you are looking for a budget but a sturdy and durable solution, uPVC is the easiest way to get all three. UPVC bi-folds have a similar strength to those made from timber. Also, just like its timber counterpart, uPVC can warp in extreme weather, thus making it vulnerable to temperature changes. This can damage the uPVC door and make it difficult to open or close.
Compared to timber and aluminium, uPVC has the highest U-value with an average of 1.7W/m2. However, the fact that this material is prone to extreme weather means that its thermal efficiency can be affected. Unfortunately, of all three materials, uPVC is the least environmentally friendly. For this reason, some have even started using recycled plastic.
When talking about style and maintenance, uPVC has a very low level of maintenance. Since it can be easily damaged by the sun or get scratched, all you can do is clean it once a year with warm soapy water. Other than that, the truth is that uPVC looks somehow “cheap” compared to its counterparts. Some choose the wood effect (mahogany uPVC) but it’s still unflattering.
Apart from that, uPVC bi-fold doors have much wider frames than their aluminium and timber alternatives which makes them really bulky-looking. In addition, this reduces the light coming in by a considerable amount.
Last but not least, uPVC bi-folds are the cheapest option out there. As they are mass-produced, there is a high availability of this material. Most manufacturers offer a standard 10-year warranty period but are careful as the longevity of uPVC bi-fold doors might be compromised if they are installed against direct and intense sunlight on a south-facing elevation.
Generally, timber is considered among the most stylish materials for any type of door. In most cases, it’s preferred due to its “warmer” look and it’s usually a popular choice for traditional homes because of its natural look. Moreover, it can be painted in your color of choice which also makes them suitable for contemporary homes.
However, it may have as many disadvantages as its perks. Timber doors are generally heavyweight. In addition, wood is more prone to be worn out by sunlight, water ingress, and other bad weather conditions. With this in mind, choosing wood as the material for your bi-fold doors will require frequent maintenance and repainting.
In terms of thermal efficiency, the average U-value of timber is 1.4W/m2. Even though the efficiency can be improved with similar methods to those used for aluminium doors, you can’t take away the fact that wooden doors are more prone to inclement weather which can cause gaps and efficiency reduction.
All in all, wood is an expensive but stylish material for bi-fold doors. Most manufacturers give a standard 10-year warranty period. Due to their considerably shorter life than their counterparts, timber bi-fold doors can be clad in powder-coated aluminium which will increase their strength and reduce the maintenance.
If you want a more durable timber bi-fold door, then you should go for composite timber rather than engineered. However, both features are quite expensive and it’s debatable whether it’s worth choosing one of these.
To conclude, bi-fold doors are surely a commodity that is bound to become more and more popular with time. The versatility in terms of materials makes such doors available for any budget and everyone can install bi-folds in their home, apartment or period house.
Of course, these are not your traditional patio doors but after all, what’s better than compact and seamless doors with a bigger and brighter view?