- Helping you choose the best bi folding doors for your home.
- Bifolding doors remain a desirable home improvement product.
- The Bi folding door “system”.
- One company only manufactures some of the best bi folding doors.
- Bifolding Door Quality & Standards
- U Values
- Powder Coating
- Salt and Chlorine
- What about the best bi folding doors you rarely see?
- Bifolding doors to match PVCu windows.
- Maximum and minimum sizes of doors
- Quality of the Running gear and hardware.
- The bifolding door low threshold
- Guarantees and Service Levels for bifolding doors.
For this article, we will concentrate on the choice of aluminium bi folding doors, and try to offer some guidance. We also explain how bifolds are similar in specification and give you some of the many brands avaialble.
Helping you choose the best bi folding doors for your home.
First of all, people ask this website “where can I view several examples of bi folding doors in one place?” There are some good reasons why this is not always possible. One important reason due to space! Unlike window samples a double glazing salesperson may bring into the home, bi folding doors must be full size working and correctly installed doors to give the right customer experience. Only a full-size door provides a good overview of the product.
As a result, to display many different doors, typically 4 metres wide would need substantial showroom space. Now, good bifolding door showrooms are commonplace. Express Bifolds in Leeds, Hehku in Sussex, Aspire Bifolds in Epsom, Open Living in Letchworth, Everglade Windows in Middlesex. These are just a tiny fraction of showrooms with many doors on display. Contact us as we can put you in touch with showrooms where you can see several products.
Home improvement companies choose which system they will sell to the consumer. The same as retail shops choose which brand of product to stock.
Most home improvement firms offer windows, entrance doors, conservatories and bifolding doors. Other businesses want to specialise only in bifolding doors. Consequently, you are more likely to see a greater variety of bifolding door systems at a bifolding door specialist.
Brands like Origin, AluK, Smart Systems you will see everywhere. There are substantially more brands on the market than these.
Bifolding doors remain a desirable home improvement product.
The good news about finding the best bi folding doors is all doors provide peace of mind. As a result, you will find:
- Extensive choice of colours.
- Certified security and weather performance such as PAS24 or Secured By Design.
- Multi-point locking, security door cylinders and durable door handles.
- A big choice of brands.
Concerning weather performance, the same applies. Most quality systems are tested to meet current weather performance requirements. Bifolding doors today have excellent weather performance. We do not hear of bifolding doors suffering from water ingress. Seals, gaskets and great design allow any water to drain to the outside. A correctly made and installed door remains weather resistant.
There have also been improvements over the years in the quality of the hardware and running gear. All of this has now been designed to provide a product that when correctly installed and glazed will be reliable for many years to come.
So it is fair to say that the bifolding door has progressed significantly over older versions of sliding folding doors. So what is the best bi folding door? The first thing to explain is the role of the bifolding door within the aluminium supply chain.
Bifolding doors come direct from many different manufacturers or exclusively produced by the systems company that designed them. Learn about Systems Companies.
The Bi folding door “system”.
Many of the best bi folding doors in the market come designed and extruded in raw material form by Aluminium Systems Companies. These are called bifolding door systems.
In general terms, these Systems Companies supply the aluminium bars, hardware and accessories to nationwide manufacturers. Many of these manufacturers will sell the fabricated bifolding doors to the installers, home improvement firms, general builders and companies specialising in home renovations. Some manufacturers will even make and install your bifolding doors.
Some home improvement companies choose to rebrand these bifolding doors with a different name. They remain for example a “Smarts System” (or Smarts Door) but a simple marketing exercise enables a Company to have its own particular “brand” of a bifolding door. In many cases, the door is the same as any other of the same system. Some other companies do choose to fit different handles or customise the design in some way to differentiate their door from another.
The systems companies support all these manufacturers and provide detailed fabrication manuals, technical support documents, tooling and machinery.
All reputable bifolding door manufacturers will adhere to the guidance in these technical manuals to ensure the product is manufactured, glazed and installed as the systems company intended. This is important in the event of a problem with the finished product. The Systems Company will only stand by it if it has been manufactured and installed in agreement with its technical manuals.
The only perceived risk with any door supplied to more than one fabricator is that quality can differ from company to company as will the guarantees. In reality, this is nothing to worry about. Some of the best names in bifolding doors such as Schuco or Reynaers are fabricated by many different companies all over the country.
One company only manufactures some of the best bi folding doors.
By comparison, there are some companies that offer bifolding doors unique to them. They retain their own bifolding door “system” but also manufacture the doors themselves. These are then be supplied ready-made to their approved dealers and installers. Such companies include Origin Bifolding Doors, Sunfold, Air Bifolding Doors, Frameless Glass Curtains, Sunflex and Centor, New Wave Doors, and Folding Sliding Door Company are others.
Origin Bifolding Doors are one of the most highly regarded bifolding doors in the UK. The Origin door is an excellent example of a large business that fabricates bifolding doors to an exceptional standard. Only Origin makes their doors.
The Origin customer is assured of consistent quality, greater control and consistent aftercare service. It is the way Origin exclusively supplies its quality folding doors that also enables them to offer a 20-year warranty.
SUNFLEX is another excellent, sought-after brand of bifolding doors with a German-made product. A SUNFLEX bifold comes with several unique features over other bifolds as well as being one of the thinnest. Well worth looking at alongside any other premium brand. There are seven different SUNFLEX doors to choose from in aluminium, timber and hybrid materials.
Dutemänn based in Dartford is another premier manufacturer of Schuco and their FD85 bifolding door giving you three panels when most other systems on the market need four panels. The Dutemann FD85 is also incredibly slim.
Sunflex is another company that makes exceptional bifolding doors. Sunflex doors can even fit and work within a curved or faceted structural opening.
Aluhaus in Nottingham uses a re-engineered Warmcore bifold system. The Alufold bifolding door is welded, has top-end hardware and even has colour-matched seals and gaskets.
Therefore if who makes your bifolding doors is essential, you may wish to do your research and ask each potential supplier for a full background.
Many factors affect your choice of bifolding door.
With the bifolding door continuing to lead as a home improvement product, the inevitable question remains, which is the best bifolding door? Firstly, there is no absolute best product, but there are several considerations.
Professionals in the door and window industry all have their own view of what is the best bifolding door. Their reasons will also be based on which door is easy to fit and for manufacturers, easy to make. Their view of a great bifold also depends on the service levels they get from their supplier. Long-term reliability is another consideration. Finally, brand perception is important as well. Many suppliers like to sell an affordable bifold like the Smart Systems Visofold or AluK Optio BSF70 bi-fold door. They then offer a door with a better brand perception such as Schuco, Reynaers, Air, Sunfold or Sunflex.
What other good installers also do is give you a choice based on aesthetics. Origin doors are everywhere in the UK for their guarantee and many options. But they are not the slimmest. So many dealers supply Origin with a slimmer alternative to compare. Schuco is usually the one. We have a comprehensive article showing who makes the slimmest bifolding doors.
But for consumers, it is hard to educate on what is the “best” product. Here considerations will be different such as price, guarantees, aesthetics and of course confidence in the company they’re buying them from. Having considered the supply chain we now examine the technical, aesthetic and other features common in some of the best bi folding doors.
The best Bi folding Door Brands
We say there are no absolute best bi folding doors. Rather, the leading systems can be grouped together for comparison. This list is to help you compare the various systems should you wish to do so. It is compiled through our experience of having worked with many bifolding door products, the companies and their customer base.
The following Bifolding Door brands are considered by this website and many professionals to be the market leaders in terms of design, build quality and service levels. Obviously, this is reflected in the pricing.
|Mid-Range Bifolding Doors||High-End Bifolding Doors|
|Alumina by Liniar||Sunflex Bifolding Doors|
|Smart Systems Visofold Range||Air 800 Bifolding Doors|
|AluK Systems Range||Schuco Aluminium Systems|
|SAPA Building Systems||Reynaers Aluminium Systems|
|Kestrel Aluminium Systems||Origin|
|Comar Aluminium Systems||Solarlux|
|Kaye Building Systems KBS||Frameless Glass Curtains|
|New Wave Doors||Alufold by Aluhaus|
|Panoramic Doors||Centor Bifolding Doors|
|Warmcore Doors||Express Bifolding Doors|
|DeWall Doors by Debar||Alumil Supreme SF85|
What about Everest and Anglian Bifolding Doors?
We must mention the two biggest home improvement firms in the UK and their bifolding doors. The reality is there is very little information about them as Everest and Anglian don’t reveal much. They rarely provide detailed information when asked so we can review the products.
It is our understanding that the Everest Bifolding Door is based on the SAPA bifolding door with minor modifications to make it ‘unique’ to Everest. Anglian we believe uses modified AluK bifolding door profiles.
Bifolding Door Quality & Standards
If the sheer choice of bifolding door brands and products seems like a minefield, we can help. The technical specifications of many bifold doors are similar. Thanks to the many industry standards in place to produce doors and windows, bifold door specifications are broadly the same.
Paint finish, aluminium profiles, glass and gaskets all come from high up the supply chain. Therefore, our advice is to concentrate on the aesthetics and personalisation options as the material quality is pretty much the same.
All bifolding door manufacturers operate within strict guidelines for material quality, glass specification and security standards. Other companies will have their own in-house Quality Assurance Systems and procedures to ensure product and manufacturing quality is consistent and of a high standard.
|Feature||Relevant Industry Standard|
|Quality of aluminium profiles and extrusions||Aluminium Alloy 6063.T6 to BS EN 755 Part 9: 2008 or BS EN 12020|
|Quality of polyester powder coated finish||BS EN 12206-1:2004.|
|Quality of glass||BS 6262 and Approved Document N|
|Quality of glass||BS 6262 and Approved Document N|
|Security||PAS 24, Document Q, Secured by Design, BS7950, BS EN 12209|
|Weather resistance||BS 6375: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3:2009|
|Water resistance||BS 6375: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3:2009|
|Air permeability||BS 6375: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3:2009|
|Quality of rubber gaskets||EPDM Rubber manufactured in accordance with BS3734.|
|Quality of woolpile seals||BS 7386:1997|
|Polyamide Thermal Break||PA66 GF25|
|Anodised colours||Silver or bronze anodised BS3987 (AA25).|
A U value is the name given to how heat transfer is measured through a building material such as a door or a window. In simple terms, it is a measure proving how-how energy efficient a door will be including its glass. This is to comply with new Building Regulations that came into effect in October 2010.
All parts whether windows, doors or building materials that contribute to the overall energy efficiency of a home must achieve a U Value. Generally, the lower the U Value, the more energy efficient the product. The current Building Regulations require the overall door energy rating to have a U value of less than 1.8wM2K. On bifolding doors, U-Values will vary from system to system but each must meet the minimum standard as determined by the Building Regulations product to product as well but each should meet the minimal standard. Presently the Warmcore and Alufold by Aluhaus bifolding door has the lowest U Values of any bifolding door when glazed with a double glazed unit.
The powder coating process and the way aluminium doors are coloured and finished is one of the most appealing features of aluminium bifolding doors. Most leading systems companies such as Smart Systems, Senior Architectural Systems and others have invested in their own powder coating plants. Other systems will outsource the painting of their aluminium doors to approved and expert powder coating companies. It does not matter where your doors are painted as long as it is to recognised industry standards and that the powder coater is Qualicoat Approved.
Some of the best bi folding doors come with thicker paint finishes for enhanced durability. Great for exposed or coastal locations.
Salt and Chlorine
If your doors are to be installed in a coastal or swimming pool environment, it is very important that the powder coating applied takes into consideration the location. Any bifolding door system can, therefore, be specified with an extended paint guarantee. This guarantee will protect powder coated bifolding doors against salt, chlorine and other contaminants.
Alufold by Aluhaus, air 800 bifolding doors and the Warmcore system come with this enhanced powder coated finish (coated to thicker microns) as standard. Be aware that guarantees are offered only by the powder coating applicators. There is a difference between a thicker grade paint finish without a guarantee and one where an application for a special guarantee to the powder coater needs to be made.
Locking mechanisms will largely meet minimum or maximum security requirements depending upon what testing standard has been carried out. Some bifolding doors meet Secured by Design accreditation, others do not. It is advisable to ask what Security Standard the bifolding door has been tested to.
Weather performance on bifolding doors will also have been carried out to established industry standards. Some doors will have a more severe weather rating than others. This does not imply that the bifolding doors with the lesser standard will leak! You may wish to consider a door with a higher weather rating for doors in an exposed location. If your doors are simply for an extension to a typical terraced house the lesser standard will suffice.
What about the best bi folding doors you rarely see?
Look at many of the finest bifolding door showrooms and it is the case you will often see the same brands of doors available. Good examples are Smart System Visofold and AluK bifolding doors. These are good quality bifolding doors, widely available and at competitive prices.
Alumil SF85. One of the newest bifolding doors in the UK is the Alumil SF85. Alumil is a Greek systems company offering very high specification bifolding doors and other glazing systems. Their SF85 has excellent technical specifications, outstanding proportions and goes up to 4 metres high.
Kawneer bifolding doors. The Kawneer name has a global reputation providing their glazing systems in some of the most famous buildings in the world. The Kawneer AA3720 is hard to find in the typical showroom. Kawneer doors are manufactured and installed by the most experienced and professional manufacturers and installers. Their expertise is in commercial and complex work they don’t sell directly to the public.
Senior Architectural Bifolding Doors. Senior Architectural is one of the biggest independent systems companies in the UK. Like Comar or Kawneer, they remain highly specified in the commercial market. Presently Senior Systems offer the AliFOLD and PURe FOLD suite of doors. Both versions are well designed, attractive, provide a wide choice of sections and are very adaptable doors.
Senior doors also offer the glazing bar option for those wanting a steel look door with multi-panels. Senior bifold doors we say deserve much more consumer consideration. You won’t easily find them in your average showroom – contact us, and we can put you in touch with a local installer.
SAPA Crown Doors. A well priced bifolding door featuring a continuous hinge. SAPA has a great name in the UK for aluminium doors and windows.
Schuco and Reynaers doors. The first choice for anyone wanting a more luxurious door from two of the best known brands in the world. Take a look and see how Schuco and Reynaers doors compare with each other and with the Origin bifolding door as well.
Bifolding doors to match PVCu windows.
Many homeowners are adding bifolding doors to their homes after they’ve installed new PVCu windows.
Liniar has an excellent reputation for PVCu windows and doors. The Alumina door from Liniar provides a sculptured profile to replicate the aesthetics of Liniar windows. Alumina matches other sculptured PVCu windows too.
One of the many advantages of this product is that it’s available in a foiled finish to match modern PVCu windows. Also, its sculptured profile makes it the only bifolding door on the market that can match the Liniar range of PVCu windows and doors. This gives a matching bifolding door. But if you’re looking for a bifolding door with all the advantages of aluminium, yet can create a similar look to PVCu elsewhere in the home, Alumina by Liniar is well worth considering.
The aesthetics of bifolding doors will vary from system to system. Therefore it is advisable to consider whether you want a door with profiled or rounded edges to the frame and door leaves, or a more flatline and contemporary appearance. Bifolding door aesthetics vary greatly. Do your research, shop around and find the bifolding door that will best match your home.
For grey colour doors, the flat appearance of some systems looks better. A wood effect aluminium bifolding door looks more authentic with rounded profiles.
For those wanting the slimmest possible sight lines, there are also all glass bifolding doors available that consist of virtually no aluminium framing. These offer far less visible aluminium frame than many standard and popular products.
Some bifolding door systems come with a limited choice of profiles. Other brands give you contemporary or traditional looking doors. Examples include a chamfered door or a contemporary flat looking door. Warmcore doors by Synseal Systems offer four different profile combinations.
In our experience, security, performance, thermal efficiency and product guarantees are significant to consumers. But at the same time aesthetics is highly important and will often be the key decision when buying a bifolding door. Therefore, it has to look right.
Maximum and minimum sizes of doors
Bifolding door systems vary in what minimum and maximum door leaf sizes you get. Some bifolding door systems stop at 2500mm to 2700mm high. Other door systems come in a maximum height of 3 metres.
Therefore, if you have a particular requirement, make sure you seek advice. If your local bifolding door suppliers offer a system at smaller maximum sizes, look at other brands.
If you’re designing a new extension and looking for wide and tall doors, you’ll see some products stating their maximum door sizes. Many of the best bi folding doors like Schuco or Dutemann come with wide and tall door sizes. Some systems report big sizes but not always possible. For example, a 3 metre high door is possible with narrower door leaves. A wide door leaf may need a reduced height.
Quality of the Running gear and hardware.
The running gear is one of the essential components in a bifolding door. Bifolding doors with the weight on the bottom are more reliable than those bifolding doors that “hang” from the top. A bifolding door is a complex product and reliability is essential. The best bi folding doors come with reliable, quality running gear taking the weight on the bottom with guides at the top.
Some bifolding door manufacturers use proprietary running gear. Other companies have developed their running mechanisms, unique to their doors.
The same applies to door handles and hinges. There is diversity in the quality and some bifolding door manufactures differentiate themselves with the high quality construction, design and feel of their door handles. The door handle, the intermediate pull handles between the doors remain visible at all times. Therefore you have to be happy with how the handles will look.
Likewise, other bifolding door manufacturers offer pull handles that are more concealed than others or recess entirely. SAPA provide a bifolding door with a continuous full height hinge. Origin doors offer safe finger gaskets that can colour match the rest of the door. Schuco offers excellent, distinctive door hardware that is instantly recognisable. There are differences between all systems, so again shop around. Most doors on the market have finger protection between the doors.
The bifolding door low threshold
The threshold on bifolding doors is important as most people want as flush as possible threshold.
The dimension of the low threshold will vary by millimetres from system to system. Find out more about Thresholds on Bifolding Doors. Therefore always speak to your builder, door provider and architect if you’re looking to achieve an ultra flat look to your door threshold.
Again beware the marketing literature. Many systems will state they offer a slimline or ultra-low threshold. Always check the small print that this threshold is suitable for external applications as many systems offer this very low detail with doors intended for internal use only. As a result, you may find weather tests and security tests carried out apply to a product with a standard threshold. This doesn’t necessarily mean your doors will leak or be easy to break into, but it is worth checking if this factor is important in your buying decision.
We have mentioned Aluhaus’ Alufold doors in this article already for their engineering and quality. Alufold bifolds come with a weather rated low threshold. Alumina bifold doors do too.
Guarantees and Service Levels for bifolding doors.
Almost all bifolding door brands provide good guarantees. You will find differing service levels and customer care from company to company. Some manufacturers provide a guarantee to their installers assuming the door installation is correct. Some installers offer their own guarantee (typically ten years). All of these guarantees will largely depend upon the door system. Remember glass or glass with integral blinds often comes with only five years guarantee. Check with your bifold door provider.
Therefore there is no disadvantage to the consumer with doors supplied and guaranteed via several parties.
Origin Doors have a 20-year guarantee. Aïr 800 bifolding doors have a 25-year guarantee – one that no other bifolding door company offers. This does not imply that a door with ten years will be any less reliable. It merely means such companies who make their own doors have greater control of all their processes internally, involving fewer parties. A guarantee is a deciding factor for many choosing the best bi folding doors.
It’s important to understand that guarantees will vary between a window company installing bifolding doors and your builder fitting them. The supply process is complex so always check what guarantee you will be getting depending on who fits your doors.
Your builder may be buying your bifolding doors from a trade supplier. Trade Suppliers do not offer much beyond the powder coating and hardware guarantee. Consequently, the company fitting your doors give you the better guarantee. Bifold doors from the builder will be cheaper than an installer but the latter gives you better peace of mind.
This article aims to help you understand the various features of some of the best bi folding doors and what to consider. We have given some background about the different parts of the supply chain. And how the guarantees work, along with some general questions relating to bifolding doors. Therefore there is enough information to ask the right questions, and fully understand the answers.
A reputable and experienced home improvement company will be able to advise you about bifolding doors fully. Similarly, a company providing a range of bifolding door systems will explain the features and benefits of each. Our advice is, be happy with the product, the price and your chosen supplier.
Contact us whatever your questions about bifolding doors.
Every year this website helps thousands of consumers and those in the trade. We provide answers to bifolding door questions, finding the right product and from the best suppliers. Whatever your question about finding the best bi folding doors or where to source them, please contact us and we can help you. Our service is free.
Update, July 2018.
This article we wrote in 2014. It is constantly updated as new products come on the market or following improvements to existing products.