If you are in the market for bifolding doors then you have a choice of aluminium, PVCu, timber and a combination of aluminium and wood, otherwise known as composite or hybrid. Our article explaining the various materials used in the manufacture of bifold doors gives further information, but which is the better product?
In this article we will give some information about PVCu bifolding doors. It is worth stressing that every product has its place. There is no “best” bifolding door – what is best will largely be determined by factors such as your budget and ultimately what you like and want to have installed in your home.
British and European Standards, legislation, modern technology and design all have an influence in the products you see today. This means that all modern doors currently available in whatever material meet or exceed the respective industry minimum standards for security, weather performance and U Values. You can be confident that once correctly installed they will be fit for purpose.
There are several reasons why double glazing firms prefer Aluminium Bifolding doors
There are plenty of well established and reputable double glazing firms who choose to sell PVCu windows and doors, but elect to sell aluminium bifold doors rather than PVCu ones.
The greater strength aluminium has over pvc makes aluminium doors substantially slimmer and a far more aesthetically pleasing product. It is for this reason that PVCu bifolding doors are much thicker and have greater bulk than their aluminium counterparts.
PVCu bifolding doors, owing to the bigger sight lines, are restricted by how large the individual door panels can be made. Typically with most systems this will be 900mm. Simply put, this means that as PVCu bifolding doors are chunkier and door leaves cannot be made as wide as aluminium you will be left with very large sight lines when the doors are closed and stacked together and less glass.
This is important to bear in mind because for most of the year, bifolding doors will be shut and compared to aluminium you will be looking through far less glass and more obtrusive white or woodgrain plastic with pvc bifolds.
The plastic door threshold is also an issue. Typically on early systems these can be over 100mm in height meaning either you have a large “step over” when you go in and out and also installers are left where site conditions allow with a lot of plastic profile to bury or sink into the floor level. With aluminium bifolding doors thresholds can be as low as 13mm.
Most aluminium bifolding doors benefit from slim attractive profiles, high quality hardware and a fantastic free glide running system giving the doors silent, light and smooth operation.
It is the anticipated maintenance with pvcu bifolds that is the larger issue for installers.
PVCu bifolding are a relative newcomer to the marketplace having been introduced approximately 7 or 8 years ago.
It is well known and technically proven that pvc expands roughly two and half times more than aluminium. If you already have windows and doors installed in south facing elevations you may have experienced differences in how they open in hot and cold weather.
PVCu bifolds whilst continuing to improve all the time will expand much more than aluminium. The complex nature of how bifolds slide, swing and fold means that bifolds installed in south facing elevations can be prone to sticking and not functioning correctly.
Double glazing firms regard the thermal expansion as an issue and whilst it is easy to explain to a customer that plastic will expand more than aluminium, for a customer that has a sticking bifolding door, albeit correctly made and installed will not be comforted by this.
Double glazing firms are obliged to guarantee their products for 10 years and the last thing they want is to sell you a product that will may cause ongoing service issues and very quickly eradicate any profit in the job from repeated site visits after installation and payment.
Aesthetically aluminium bifolding doors are the more attractive product.
Visit any double glazing showroom presenting in its showroom aluminium and pvcu bifolding doors and you will quickly be able to see how the aesthetics of the two products differ.
You will instantly notice differences in the design of the hardware, the thresholds, the appearance of the doors when they are stacked together and differences in how the slide and fold.
The PVC bifolding door is continuing to improve as this product becomes ever more popular. It will still be a great product for those that simply want a bifolding door at the cheapest possible price. But with bifolding doors price should not be the main consideration.