Choosing Bi folding or Sliding Doors

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Nick Dardalis

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Bifolding doors are the most popular home improvement product today with many original sliding patio doors and French Doors being replaced by bi folding doors.  So the obvious question is which is better, bi folding or sliding doors?

bifolding doors are fantastic for connecting inside and outside spaces. but they also have other uses too.
Bifolding doors are fantastic for connecting inside and outside spaces and creating open corners such as these Origin Doors

Most home renovations now have bifolding doors as part of the design brief because homeowners building an extension or renovating their home are choosing Bi-fold doors or considering them as part of their project.

Are bifolding doors right for your home?

Whilst many want bifolding doors in their homes, how do you know if they are right for you?

Patio doors have also advanced significantly in recent years and these are now available in many different types of configurations and options that could also make them suitable. When designing a new extension, you can also design bifolding doors for large openings.  These truly open up the views in and out with expansive glass panels and the functionality of the folding action.

What to consider when choosing bifolding or patio doors

If you are embarking on any kind of renovation project it is important to talk to your builder or your architect as well as your home improvement firm. Experienced professionals will be able to give you the right information on what kind of door option best suits your needs as both have their advantages and disadvantages.

very large room showing options for bi folding or sliding doors
Schuco doors whether sliding or folding can be made up to 3 metres high

Often we might desire one product but the practicalities of it mean other factors will need to be considered. Of course, the design of your project, the space you have available and the all important budget will also be factors.

We have created a list of things to consider with both sliding doors and bifolding doors in aluminium.  There is no real “disadvantage” to any product as ultimately you have to choose what is best for your own needs, but the table below provides some information on what you can consider.

The most desirable type of door available todayWhen closed bifolding doors have much more visible aluminium
Can create complete opening glass wallsFolding leaves can be made up to 1m wide with most systems
Available in multiple configurations from 2 leaves up to 7 or moreBifolding doors are more expensive
Low threshold options are availableMust be installed absolutely right to ensure long term reliability
Single Access leaves mean more flexibility when shut.Multiple leaves need several operations to open all doors
Open corners can be created without a fixed postDoors take up inside and outside space when opened
Wide choice of products availableIf limited on outside space, open in bifolds take up space inside
Direct fix options availableSuitable for manual or electric blinds in the double glazed units
Easier to transport than sliding patio doorsCurrently very popular but may date as trends change
Can be used as French Doors as well as bifolidng doors 
Generally cheaper than bifolding doors.Limited products available that can create open corners
Ideal for “Panoramic Glass Walls”Limited to four panels with most systems
Less visible aluminium when doors are closedSlightly heavier to open than bifolding doors
Suitable for small spaces such as balconies or small patiosLess choice of handle options
Won’t encroach into outside or inside living spacesWhen all doors are open you are left with one or more fixed panel
Patio doors will take bigger panes of glassSliding operation means integral blinds may not be possible with some sliding door systems.
Sliding panels can be made up to 3 metres wide or high with some systemsTransport and Handling of large glazed panels may be an issue
Less visible hardware than bifolding doorsLarge glass panels can cause issues should glass ever need replacement
Multiple tracks mean many different sliding options
Tilt and Slide options are available giving greater flexibility
Low thresholds typically need sinking into the floor
Typically slimmer sight lines than bifolding doors
A more flatline appearance
Wide choice of products available
Direct fix option available with no hardwood subframe needed

What is best? A bi folding door or patio doors?

patio doors
Patio doors will give you larger glass areas when closed than bifolding doors. Ultra slim Artline by SAPA

There are other factors to consider when deciding between a sliding door, patio door or a bifolding door  .  The choice of material will be important but talk to your local home improvement firm and make sure you are given the right advice on both products.  Bifolding doors are popular and some firms may choose to sell you these over sliding patio doors highlighting the obvious advantage often cited that bifolding doors will create the seamless transition between your inside and outside spaces.

However it is important to consider the British climate and that for the majority of the time your doors will be shut. The obvious advantage of sliding doors is that there is much less visible aluminium than bifolding doors and that patio doors can be made substantially wider than folding doors.  Therefore if maximum glass area is important to you patio doors may be the better option in this case.

discover air doors in new extension.
Aïr sliding and folding doors are technically advanced, precision manufactured and luxurious. They also have a 25 year guarantee.

There are very high quality, superbly well engineered sliding doors presently available.  Examples of high-end sliding doors include the Air 500LS and 600LS, sliding doors that we think are some of the best you can buy. Schuco, Reynaers and most of the aluminium systems companies in the UK offer a sliding door solution. Smarts Visoglide sliding doors are now available with a very slim central section (the interlock) and these too are quality sliding doors at a lower price.

If you would like further information, advice or simply wish to ask a question, please contact us.

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16:42 30 Oct 23
Nick responded incredibly quickly to my enquiry (on a Saturday too!), and was able to offer invaluable advice on both aluminum systems and manufacturer / suppliers. Thanks Nick!
chris steerchris steer
16:18 09 Oct 23
Had a meeting with Nick during the grand designs show. Was extremely helpful and professional would highly recommend
Chris WesthorpChris Westhorp
19:55 13 Sep 23
Extremely helpful with pointing us in the right direction to find the products we required and suggesting firms that could reliably fit them.Nick was quick to reply and very detailed in his advice.Highly recommend reaching out to them.
Cathy GreenwoodCathy Greenwood
07:03 11 Sep 23
Update - A second email to nick for help on bifolds resulted in a detailed informative reply even on a Sunday ! This guy is so knowledgable and helpful .I approached Nick for an independent view on sliding doors v bifold and the different brand options . His reply was extremely detailed and prompt and allowed me to navigate this often confusing world in a much more informed way . Thanks so much Nick
Anthony CraigAnthony Craig
12:45 05 Sep 23
This is a must site for anyone looking for advice. Great service and very quick answers to questions. Nick has been of great help quiding us through the maze of aluminium products. Thank you
Philip DuffieldPhilip Duffield
20:24 26 Jul 23
I contacted Nick @ ATS for guidance on what aluminium sliding door systems would be suitable for an opening in an extension that is going to be both wide and tall. He came back really quickly with very detailed and incredibly helpful advice. He is clearly extremely knowledgeable about the systems on the market and their respective features and capabilities. If you’re feeling a bit lost by the overwhelming range of choices out there, I’d definitely recommend contacting him.
Dariush HekmatDariush Hekmat
17:25 19 Jul 23
Nick's advice is great. He is always quick to respond and spends time on responses, which really help to make an informed decision.
Alan FosterAlan Foster
07:51 12 Jul 23
Absolutely fantastic. Asked for advice about replacing Crittall (?) windows late last night and early this morning received 3 great suggestions and contact information for suppliers
Rachel LauRachel Lau
09:24 16 Jun 23
Fantastic website full of valuable and pragmatic advice about product selection and comparison: no other website gives information like this. Truly written for public interest. Don't hesistate to reach out to Nick via the mailing system. He responds very quickly, is friendly, and has very sound and high knowledgable advice. I have already shared this with my friend planning her own grand design.
guard Charlieguard Charlie
12:28 14 May 23
I emailed this company just on the off chance they could help me with new magnetic sliders for my patio door. They were not able to supply those but were so very helpful providing me with the name of a company who could. I am so very grateful at the great service. Dare say customers must be very happy. thank you so much.
Benjamin LewisBenjamin Lewis
10:06 04 May 23
Nick is very helpful indeed. Extremely knowledgeable on bifolds which was in relation to my query. Great website as well, some very useful articles. Particularly appreciated the article that lists all the major bifold options in order of their sightlines! Thank you!
P JonesP Jones
08:07 15 Apr 23
I asked Nick some questions about an installation we were considering and he replied within hours with some very useful suggestions that will probably lead us to using a different make and supplier. Thanks, Nick. Great work.
Nicholas WallNicholas Wall
13:18 02 Apr 23
Looking for fair and honest expert advice on all aspect of aluminium windows and doors? These guys will arm you with all the information you need to make the RIGHT choice in a highly complex, crowded marketplace. post a question and you will get a very quick professional answer you can rely on being based on fact. Thanks guys!
Giorgia SiriacoGiorgia Siriaco
16:25 21 Mar 23
After a lot of research to find doors that would meet our unusual size requirements and feeling increasingly uncertain about the best way to spend our small budget, I stumbled on the ATS website, and I'm so glad I did! I contacted ATS to request advice and Nick promptly replied with a wealth of information, providing us with options and relevant contact details. I only wish I'd found them sooner!
Carol NortonCarol Norton
10:01 17 Mar 23
I've been so confused about how to achieve the look I'm after, and going round in circles with various window/door companies, trying to get away from the huge chunks of plastic currently around my windows. I didn't expect an email to a company found through a Google search to really help - but I was desperate, so I tried. I'm SO glad I did. Finally I have clear explanations from ATS of where I've been going wrong, exactly what I'm looking for, and a list of local companies that might be able to provide it! The response has excelled my expectations and I feel as if I'm finally inching closer to a home with which I'll be happy and comfortable: thank you.
David NunnDavid Nunn
20:54 14 Mar 23
It is rare that I write reviews, however after my very positive communication with Nick - enquiring about suitable slim sash aluminium windows for my project, I felt that a review was definitely warranted. I can reinforce the many positive reviews posted so far, Nick was very quick to respond, providing comprehensive detail, with excellent independent advice.In summary, great service, thank you Nick.
Chantal AuerbachChantal Auerbach
13:04 09 Mar 23
Nick from Aluminium Trade Supply was incredibly helpful informative and pleasant to deal with. He responded quickly to emails and was very knowledgeable. Highly recommend being in touch with Nick if you are considering new aluminium windows or doors.
Lee JonesLee Jones
20:21 22 Feb 23
I dropped Nick at Aluminium Trade Supply an email re high security slim sightline bi-folds and their alternatives and he responded that quickly (and so comprehensively) that I felt bad I’d not paid him for his time!Nick Sir your product knowledge is outstanding and you are providing a level of service that goes wayyyy above and beyond expectations. I’ll definitely make sure I mention Aluminium Trade Supply to anyone I encounter looking for a fenestration solution 🙏🏼
15:13 13 Feb 23
We are looking to replace some old UPVC patios doors with aluminium ones. The ATS website is a great source of advice in an area where clear information is sorely lacking. Having used the website, I then followed this up with a number of specific questions relating to our search, and Nick came back very quickly with clear, detailed and very useful advice.I have been very impressed with both the website and with Nick's advice. My only regret is that I didn't come across ATS before replacing various windows in 2021 - I'm sure it would have saved me a lot of grief and money! Thanks again Nick.
Azza McCabeAzza McCabe
17:47 01 Feb 23
So impressed with this company.Responded to my query quickly andgave valuable advice. Nick was extremely helpful and we were able to move forward with our project.
Adri LoloçiAdri Loloçi
11:21 08 Jan 23
Nick was super fast to respond and provided some great recommendations. I would recommend this website to anyone looking to find bifold or sliding aluminium doors.
Stephen HoustonStephen Houston
16:16 03 Jan 23
Looking for aluminium crittall style internal door and external patio French doors. Noted good reviews and thought would ask for advice. Comprehensive reply with excellent independent advice and lists of fitters who could provide products and installation. Great service.
Inga GeachInga Geach
08:25 21 Dec 22
Nick from Aluminium Trade Supply has been extremely helpful with navigating the jungle that is aluminium glazing for our upcoming extension project. His advice was prompt, detailed and always impartial. Very grateful for your input, thanks Nick!
Amanda BurtonAmanda Burton
10:54 16 Dec 22
Brilliant website and an excellent service. Nick provided not only detailed advice and supplier contacts, but highlighted the considerations of various products so I could make an informed choice. Our Sunvista minimal sliders were fitted this week and I couldn't be happier, stunning. Thanks once again for your advice and recommendations, invaluable!
Keith BarnesKeith Barnes
17:18 10 Dec 22
Very helpful advice given to my question, including the name of 3 different companies that i could try for the product being enquired about. Many thanks
Munim ChowdhuryMunim Chowdhury
11:45 13 Sep 22
Nick has been very helpful on signposting me to a number of partner organisations for steel/aluminium doors.
SUSAN wallaceSUSAN wallace
17:26 31 Aug 22
My experience with this firm was exceptionally good and this is notalways the case as a female, dipping a toe into technical waters.I was spoken too with courtesy and at a level that helped me consolidate what was needed .On top of that I was given a list of companies and places where I could obtain the type of product I needed.I could not thank them enough and would certainly go there again and reccommend others do too.
Paul SalterPaul Salter
22:39 22 Aug 22
Contacting Aluminium Trade Supply is like contacting the Oracle direct. Advice is always comprehensive and balanced. On multiple occasions they have provided me with options that fully meet our objectives. Many thanks.
Nick McCormackNick McCormack
20:25 14 Aug 22
Really helpful and useful came back to me on a Sunday with some invaluable information. Highly recommended.
ray addisonray addison
13:14 14 Aug 22
received a prompt reply to my query,and helpful information from ATS