- What is best? French Doors, a patio door or bifolding doors?
For anyone unsure of the type of back door to the garden we give some general advice.
What is best? French Doors, a patio door or bifolding doors?
For new extensions, there is naturally more flexibility. You, your builder or architect can work with you, creating a larger structural opening. The bigger the door opening, the greater the choice of door options.
For replacing your old doors, the size limits the doors available. However, there remains a good number of options and solutions. Today’s modern patio doors accommodate both large and small openings.
French doors will probably be the ideal choice for typical smaller openings and bifolding doors or patio doors for the larger ones. There are several things to consider with all three but particularly patio doors versus bifolding doors.
French doors you may know as a set of double doors that most people choose to open outwards although of course, they can open in if you wish.
Double French Doors will be more suitable to the smaller structural openings, but aluminium french doors are better than PVCu French Doors because they can be made taller and wider. This is good news if you have a typical 2400×2300 structural opening that PVCu doors can only go into when coupled to sidelights and toplights. This means more bulky PVCu sections, less glass and a smaller door area. Don’t forget that the sidelights and toplights add to the cost of a set of doors as well.
In aluminium, however, French Doors can be manufactured at maximum sizes of 1260mm wide for a single door and at least 2460mm wide for french doors. Aluminium French Doors can also be made substantially taller than most PVCu doors at 2400mm high negating the need and the additional cost of a toplight. Some other doors can also be built taller than this if needed.
French doors with most quality systems will meet high security using multipoint locking, and many have passed the latest PAS024 security tests. Additionally, with aluminium french doors you will get substantially thinner profiles than any PVCu door meaning more glass area and less aluminium.
The advantage of french doors over patio doors is that if they are your only access door into your garden, you can use only the one leaf instead of both. In the summer you have the option of opening both door leaves, and if needed these can be fitted with integral door restrictors.
The Patio Door
The most significant advantage of patio doors and sliding doors is that because they slide on one track, they take up less space when open than French Doors or bifolding doors. If you have a tiny patio or even a balcony, patio doors will make more sense. Additionally, they will not be prone to blowing open or closed on very windy days like any swing type door.
Modern patio doors in aluminium now come at substantial sizes typical of the big glass sliding doors that you will have seen on Grand Designs.
Patio door technology has advanced quite significantly in recent years. With a modern sliding door, you get one, two or three tracks. These tracks enable the various door leaves independent sliding, also providing options on how you open your doors.
Patio doors are generally available as two, three or four pane sliders although custom doors with more panels are available. The slim aluminium profiles now mean that even two-pane patio doors come suitable for doors up to five metres wide. There are even sliding doors such as the Dutemann going up to 6.7m wide with jus,t two panels. As a result, you benefit from impressive views thanks to the expansive glass area, and with minimal visible aluminium.
Sophisticated hardware and rollers in modern aluminium patio doors mean that while some considerable patio door leaves can weigh several hundred kilos, they remain remarkably light to use and slide daily.
Some patio door systems can go up to three metres in height as well giving you huge doors if you are building a bespoke opening.
Patio doors also have sophisticated security built-in with protection where the door panels overlap and excellent multi-point locking systems.
Bifolding doors are to many the ultimate door for the back of the house and obviously offer features that the other two types of doors cannot. The biggest advantage is when fully open they open up the entire building opening to create a fantastic open space and a seamless transition between the inside and the outside of the house.
There are now many configurations of bifolding doors giving you flexibility in how they open. If you have a simple 2 metre wide opening and wish to replace old french doors or an old two pane patio door, you can have two pane bifolding doors that concertina open. But on a two pane door when they are open they won’t give you a much bigger clear opening than two french doors fully open. The advantage is that you will only have open doors on the one side instead of both sides with french doors. You will also lose the flexibility of only opening one door as you can with French Doors.
Again if your bifolds are the only access door into your garden, we strongly recommend one swinging access leaf opening on the one side with the rest of the bifolding doors sliding open on the other side. This will enable you to simply swing open one door if you wish to take the rubbish out or on winter days without having to slide every door open.
Bifolding doors provide the best of all worlds when configured and designed correctly but are ideal where the open doors won’t encroach on the outside space and where the structural opening is big enough to accommodate them. If you have an existing opening of 2700mm or more there is no reason why you cannot have bifolding doors.
Steel replacement patio doors.
One of the most desirable patio doors right now is the steel-look or steel replacement system. These heritage and contemporary-styled products offer an altogether different look at the back of your house. Contact us for more information about these latest products and where to buy.
So which is best? A patio door, a bifolding door or French Doors?
Ultimately this will be a matter of personal preference as to what best suits your home. If you are on a budget for aluminium doors, then French doors will be the cheapest option. Patio doors will be a little less than bifolding doors and bifolding doors the most expensive option.
If budget was not a deciding factor then bifolding doors are the most desirable. However, if you want maximum size possible glass panels then we suggest patio doors.
Regardless of choice, aluminium doors offer you many advantages.
Regardless of what you choose and when compared directly to their PVCu counterparts, all door types will offer you much slimmer profiles than plastic doors. PVCu is a much weaker material than aluminium. Therefore PVCu is thicker and with internal reinforcing to give it the strength. Therefore you will have much thicker doors if you opt for PVCu.
The finishing of aluminium is another huge advantage to aluminium doors. Not only have you got a massive colour choice open to you with several hundred possible colours available, but if your budget stretches to it you can have doors with different colour inside and out as well as matching the doors to internal paints like Farrow and Ball.
For doors located in a very exposed location or even near a swimming pool with a chlorine environment you can even have extended guarantees on the polyester powder-coated aluminium to protect the doors against contaminants.
Also available is woodgrain technology for aluminium doors. You benefit from authentic-looking wood doors, superior in appearance to PVCu woodgrain, foils. And this coating technology also coats every surface of the profile, even the invisible ones whereas the foils used in PVCu doors cannot.
With all quality aluminium doors now having passed or exceeded British or European standards for security and weather performance you also have peace of mind that your aluminium doors no matter how large or small will be secure and highly weather resistant.
Will you be able to match different patio doors?
The design of all three products is different going back to basics in how they open, slide or fold. Therefore it is unlikely you will be able to match your doors to all look the same. This should not be a major concern to you though as the sightlines of aluminium products generally tend to be consistent and similar in, width, but you will not have matching doors. For example, French doors are available in flat, chamfered or ovolo profiles whereas patio doors generally are flat in their appearance. Bifolding doors can vary on the profiles with flat contemporary looking products available as well as those with more rounded frames and doors.
If the back of your house or your new extension is large enough to accommodate bifolding doors and french doors, then you will have ultimate flexibility. There is a great choice of products available to you.