Bifold doors will slide horizontally in a similar way to sliding patio doors, but the difference lies in their concertina structure. As each pane folds onto the next they leave behind a completely open space and stack neatly at the side.
How do they work?
Bifold doors are made up of multiple frames that fold back in a concertina. Their design means that, when folded back completely, they leave behind a completely open space with no obstructions between your home and the great outdoors.
Of all the patio doors on the market bifold doors offer the greatest flexibility. They can be installed in small openings or can replace entire walls. They can open in the middle and fold to stack at either side or can open from the left or right and stack all on one side. They can either fold back inside the home (if space allows) or into the outside. Many people choose to include a traffic door within the structure that can be used a more convenient entrance/exit when the doors are closed. They can be installed in bay or corner areas. So, in summary, there is a bifold solution to suit most projects.
Design and materials
Bifold doors are comprised of multiple leaves of glass that fold back in a concertina; depending on how many folding leaves you have, this can mean a lot of frames. So when bifold doors are closed they look more like standard windows and don’t afford as complete a view as sliding doors when closed. When open, however, they remove any barriers to the outside space which can have real visual impact.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that closed bifold doors aren’t be an attractive option. There are many framing materials to choose from including aluminium, wood, timber, PVCU, GRP composite and glass. In addition, some companies offer their frames in a variety of coatings, finishes and colours so you can ensure the doors suot the rest of your home’s decor.
A key benefit of bifold doors over other types of patio doors is their low threshold. The track can be very low to the floor which means the level of the inside and outside floor is even. This not only makes the design less intrusive but reduces the danger of tripping.
While most bifold doors are designed to withstand severe weather conditions, the low track means there is not a significant threshold. This can present the opportunity for water to seep in under the doors. Sufficient drainage and an outside floor that slopes away from the doors is the best way to solve this potential problem.
It’s important to get your doors fitted on encapsulated tracks. If the track is exposed there is an opportunity for an intruder to be able to crowbar the frames out of the track and gain access.
Security features can include completely protected running tracks, multi-locking systems at every join, steel bolts / hooks at the top and bottom of the track, interlocking panels with laminated and internal glazing plus the highest quality hinges.
Are bifold doors the right choice for you?
Bifold doors are a particularly flexible option as they can be suited to both small and large homes and adapted to fit most apertures. There are, however, a couple of things to consider when looking at bifolds:
- Each leaf of the structure is held in a frame, so when closed bifolds are more like windows which doesn’t provide as wide a view as sliding doors which are large panes of glass.
- When open, the stacked frames can be intrusive if they open inwards into your home.
- Bifolds are generally more expensive than other types of patio doors.
Bifold doors are the most expensive option when it comes to installing patio doors. This cost will increase depending on the number of folding panels that you need to fill your space. Bifold door installations usually need to be designed to fit your unique home so this again raises the costs involved.
The price will also be affected by the materials used and how much labour will be involved. This can vary greatly depending on which company you choose.
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