Choosing Bi folding or Sliding Doors

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Nick Dardalis

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.