It is well known that Bi folding doors are available in Aluminium, PVCu and Timber. There is also the choice of hybrid materials which consist of aluminium on the outside and natural wood inside. For this article we will concentrate on the choice of aluminium bi folding doors, and try to offer some guidance.
- The bifolding door is the most popular home improvement product.
- The Bifolding door “system”
- Some Bifolding doors are only manufactured by one company.
- The Bifolding Door Brands
- What about ‘the best’ bifolding doors you may never have heard of before?
- Specialist Bifolding Door Systems.
- What about aluminium 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.
- Bifolding door Quality & Standards
One question often asked to this website is “where can I view examples of bi folding doors in one place?” There are some good reasons why this is not always possible. One important reason is 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 and overview of the product. To display many different systems typically 4 metres wide would need substantial showroom space.
Another reason is home improvement companies choose which system they will sell to the consumer in the same way that other 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. You are more likely to see a greater variety of bifolding door systems at a bifolding door specialist than a company trading more in replacement windows and doors.
The bifolding door is the most popular home improvement product.
What is the best aluminium bifolding door?
Look at the vast majority of aluminium bifolding doors today, and you will have the peace of mind that virtually all of them offer the right features buyers want. Security will be key and here most doors will meet the requirements of Secured by Design, PAS 24 or other recognised British or European Standard. As a minimum, you will get multi point locking, robust handles and even anti-bump cylinders.
Concerning weather performance, the same applies. Most quality systems will have been tested to meet severe exposure ratings and will feature sophisticated gaskets and seals coupled with the facility for any water ingress to drain to the outside.
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. Every bifolding door has benefits to a consumer based upon cost, aesthetics of the product, the supply chain, customer care and so forth.
So what is the best bifolding door? The first thing to explain is the role of the bifolding door in the overall supply chain.
Bifolding doors can be made either by many different manufacturers or exclusively made by the systems company that designed them. Learn about Systems Companies.
The Bifolding door “system”
There are many bifolding doors available in the marketplace designed and extruded in raw material form by Aluminium Systems Companies. These are called bifolding door systems. Take a look at our Aluminium Systems Companies Directory to see who offers bifolding doors as well a complete suite of windows, doors and framing.
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 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 may differ from company to company as will the guarantees.
Some Bifolding doors are only manufactured by one company.
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, Kloeber, Sunfold, Air Bifolding Doors, Frameless Glass Curtains, Sunflex, Centor, New Wave Doors, and Folding Sliding Door Company.
Origin Bifolding Doors are one of the most highly regarded bifolding doors in the UK. Origin are an excellent example of a large business that fabricates bifolding doors to an exceptional standard and does not let anyone else make their doors.
Origin design, engineer and manufacture their doors from the ground up. The Origin customer is assured of consistent quality, greater control and consistent after care service. It is the way Origin exclusively supplies its quality folding doors that also enables them to offer a 20 year warranty.
Therefore if who makes your bifolding doors is important, you may wish to do your research and ask each potential supplier for a full background.
With the bifolding door continuing its upward trend as the leading home improvement product, the inevitable question remains, which is the best bifolding door? 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.
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 bifolding doors.
The Bifolding Door Brands
There is no “best bifolding door” but 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 with 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.
- Origin Bifolding Doors
- Air 800 bifolding doors
- Schuco Aluminium Systems
- Reynaers Aluminium Systems
- Frameless Glass Curtains
- Alufold by Aluhaus
The other main Bifolding door systems companies, also providing fine bifolding doors include:
- Alumina by Liniar
- Smart Systems
- AluK Systems
- SAPA Building Systems
- Senior Aluminium Systems
- Greenways Architectural
- Kestrel Systems
- Comar Aluminium Systems
- Kaye Building Systems
- New Wave Doors
- Warmcore Bifolding Doors
- DeWall bifolding doors by Debar.
What about ‘the best’ bifolding doors you may never have heard of before?
Look around 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:
AluK Doors. Also high sellers, very popular and widely manufactured and available in the UK.
Kawneer bifolding doors. Kawneer has a global reputation for providing their glazing systems in some of the most famous buildings in the world and some of the most architecturally significant. Kawneer has a professional standing that is second to none. They provide some of the most sophisticated and technically superior aluminium doors, windows and high rise glazing for the glass towers, premium apartments and the best known hospitals, office buildings and schools.
But did you know they also design what we think are one of the better bifolding doors? Seek and you shall find Kawneer bifolding doors, called the Kawneer AA3720. You will not find it 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 direct to the public. But this is changing.
Senior Architectural Bifolding Doors. Senior Architectural are one of the biggest independent systems companies in the UK. Like Comar or Kawneer, they are very highly specified in the commercial market. Presently Senior Systems offer the AliFOLD and PURe FOLD suite of doors. Both versions are well designed, attractive, offer 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 have a great name in the UK for aluminium systems.
Schuco and Reynaers doors. The first choice for anyone wanting a more luxurious door from two of the nest known brands in the world.
Smart Systems Visofold Doors. A best-selling door popular with the trade market and builders. Smarts are great doors for their price point.
All the above doors are excellent. However there are also doors from companies that are better known for their skill, innovation and technical superiority that many will probably not have heard of or assume only serve the commercial sector.
Ultimately the best bifolding door will be the one that matches your budget, the requirement of your particular project and what you like. There are many to choose from, contact us and we can help.
Specialist Bifolding Door Systems.
The aluminium sector consists of some manufacturing companies that truly understand aluminium. Some of these have taken bifolding doors to an even better level of engineering and quality.
Alufold by Aluhaus.
Aluhaus manufacture their Alufold Bifolding Door. This is one of the best engineered and most carefully thought out bifolding doors we have seen. Alufold bifolds are based on the excellent Warmcore System. What Aluhaus has done is taken Warmcore and made it far better with substantial cosmetic and technological advancements.
An Alufold bifolding door has some of the best design and engineering we have seen on a bifold. We think there is no other bifolding door on the market quite like it. From the welded construction, to the great Hafi handles, the bespoke components, a low threshold with a weather rating, a superior paint finish and highly impressive and sophisticated engineering behind this bifold; Alufold by Aluhaus is well worth considering.
Air 800 Bifolding Doors.
Everglade Windows is another company that has taken the bifolding door concept to the top level with a very sophisticated and luxurious bifolding door.
Air 800 bifolding doors have great design, fantastic running gear, some of the best handles in the industry and come with a brilliant textured paint finish.
An air bifolding door also has a 25 year manufacturer’s warranty.
What about aluminium bifolding doors to match PVCu windows?
Many homeowners are adding bifolding doors to their homes after they’ve installed new PVCu windows. In some cases doors are installed quite some time after their new windows.
Liniar are one of the best known PVCu systems companies in the UK with a quality range of windows, doors, bifolding doors and more besides. Liniar have introduced the Alumina Bifolding door. This is a 100% aluminium bifold with a clever sculptured profile to replicate the aesthetics of Liniar windows. But you may find it perfectly suitable for matching other sculptured PVCu windows as well.
One of the many advantages of this product is that it’s available in a foiled finish to match modern PVCu windows. In addition 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. 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.
If for example you are having a grey or other powder coated door, you may prefer the more flat appearance of some systems. A wood effect aluminium bifolding door may lend itself better to the 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.
What you many notice about bifolding doors is that the vast majority of the doors available are limited in their choice of profiles. The leading systems will often only offer one type of frame and door leaf design. Others will offer a chamfered door and a more 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 very important to consumers. But at the same time aesthetics is highly important and will often be the key decision when buying a bifolding door. Its a large glazed product that can dominate a room therefore it has to look right.
Maximum and minimum sizes of doors
Bifolding door systems vary in what minimum and maximum door leaf sizes are available as well as what the is maximum overall height the doors can be made to. Some bifolding door systems are restricted to maximum height of 2500mm up to 2700mm. Other door systems can be made in maximum heights of 3 metres.
Therefore, if you have a particular requirement, make sure you seek advice. If your local bifolding door suppliers offers a system that cannot be made particularly tall, this does not mean it cannot be done by another bifolding door system.
If you’re designing a new extension and looking for wide and tall doors you’ll see some products stating their maximum door sizes. Here it’s important to remember that with many bifolding doors the stated sizes are not always possible. For example a door marketed as having maximum leaf sizes of 1200x3000mm will often need one of the dimensions compromised. For example a 3 metre high door will be possible but only if the door leaves are 900mm. Alternatively a wide door leaf may be possible as 1200mm wide but only if the height does not exceed 2400mm for example. So always check what is actually possible and not what is stated in product literature.
Quality of the Running gear and hardware.
The running gear is one of the most important components in a bifolding door. It is widely regarded that doors which have all 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. We recommend you source doors utilising high quality running hear taking the weight on the bottom with running guides at the top.
Some bifolding door manufacturers use proprietary running gear. Other companies have developed their own running mechanisms that are completely unique to their doors such as the Alufold by Aluhaus, Origin, Air and others.
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.
Other bifolding door manufacturers offer pull handles that are more concealed than others or recess completely. SAPA offer a bifolding door with a continuous full height hinge. Origin doors offer finger safe gaskets that can colour match the rest of the door. Schuco offer large distinctive door hardware that is instantly recognisable. There are differences between all systems, so again shop around.
The bifolding door low threshold
The threshold on bifolding doors will be a key consideration as most people want as flush as possible a threshold. The link between the inner floor and the outside paving slabs of decking will be required to be as smooth as possible using the lowest possible threshold.
The dimension of the low threshold will vary by millimetres from system to system. Find out more about Thresholds on Bifolding Doors. We recommend you 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. Also you may find that the weather tests and security tests carried out were on a product with a standard threshold. This doesn’t necessarily mean your doors will leak or be easy to break into but it’s worth checking if this factor is important in your buying decision.
We have mentioned Aluhaus in this article for their engineering and quality. Their Alufold bifolding door is one product that has a low threshold that is weather rated.
Guarantees and Service Levels for bifolding doors.
You may find differing service levels and customer care from company to company. All reputable and experienced bifolding door manufacturers who are supplied door material by the systems company will offer a good manufacturing guarantee to their installers. The installer will then offer his own guarantee (typically 10 years) and may also then choose to offer bolt on customer service packages. All of these guarantees will largely depend upon the door being manufactured and installed correctly in order to be honoured.
Again, there is no disadvantage to the consumer in doors being supplied and guaranteed in this way through the overall supply chain involving more than one party.
By comparison, the systems companies that manufacture their own doors rely only upon themselves to ensure the door is properly made and their dealers to ensure it is properly installed. This enables some to offer far longer guarantees. Origin Doors have a 20 year guarantee which is exceptional. 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 10 years will be any less reliable. It simply means such companies who make their own doors have greater control of all their processes internally as less parties are involved.
These companies also have the perceived advantage through their various registration schemes, product serial numbers and processes of knowing exactly where they have sold their doors. This greater control enables these companies to offer more bespoke customer care packages and benefits that are then passed onto the end user via their dealers.
It’s important to understand that guarantees will vary between a window company installing bifolding doors and your builder installing them. The supply process can be complex so always be sure what guarantee you will be getting depending on who is fitting your bifolding doors.
Your builder may be buying your bifolding doors from a trade supplier. Trade Suppliers don’t offer the 10 year guarantee typical of the door and window industry when fabricated doors are supplied to the trade rather than the end user. An installing window company will typically offer a 10 year guarantee on the door they source and fit. Your builder may not offer this length of guarantee with the work done on your home that includes the bifolds. Therefore whilst sourcing your bifolding door from the trade or from a builder may be cheaper, you may find it more beneficial if you’re working with a builder to let a window company install the bifolding doors instead and benefit from the longer guarantee available.
Bifolding door Quality & Standards
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. Generally you can be confident that the various elements of a modern bifolding door generally meet recognised industry standards for conformity and type.
A U value is the name given to how heat transfer is measured though 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.
Any manufacturer is expected to ensure that the polyester powder coated finish typical of aluminium bifolding doors will be carried out within recognised industry standards such as BS6496 – the British Standard for polyester powder coating.
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 its to recognised industry standards and that the powder coater is Qualicoat Approved.
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. The extended powder coating guarantee should not add a lot of money to your bifolding doors so beware anyone charging a very hefty premium for this coating.
Alufold by Aluhaus, air 800 bifolding doors and the Warmcore system come with this enhanced powder coated finish (coated to thicker microns) as standard.
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. Whilst 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 if the bifolding doors are to be installed in a very exposed location. If your doors are simply for an extension to a typical terraced house the lesser standard would suffice for many.
This article aims to help you understand the various features of aluminium bifolding 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. So hopefully you have enough information to ask the right questions, and fully understand the answers.
A reputable and experienced home improvement company will be able to fully advise you about installation issues, guarantees for your bifolding doors. Whether they are a company that buys in ready-made doors from a manufacturer or whether they are an approved dealer, or even both, they should be able to demonstrate in depth product knowledge. However, it is up to you to be happy and confident with your chosen supplier.
Contact us whatever your questions about bifolding doors.
Every year this website helps thousands of consumers and those in the trade with answers to bifolding door questions, finding the right product and from the best suppliers. Whatever your question about bifolding doors or where to source them, please contact us and we can help you. Our service is free.
Update, April 2017.
This article was originally written in 2014 and has been constantly updated as new products come on the market or existing products have been improved. It was last updated in April 2017.