Residential Bifolding Doors From Kawneer

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Nick Dardalis

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The Kawneer name is synonymous with advanced and highly sophisticated architectural aluminium systems. Any professional working in the commercial or specification sector will be aware of just how good Kawneer products are and why they are so widely specified the world over.

You may be one of many that think Kawneer, part of the Alcoa Group, only offers commercial systems such as curtain walling, commercial doors, atrium glazing and windows. Kawneer does offer all of these commercial systems as well as a sophisticated suite of protection systems such as hurricane and blast resistant glazing. However, Kawneer also provides a suite of doors and windows for dwellings.

Kawneer windows and doors for residential properties.

picture of kawneer aluminium doors and windows.
You will not find Kawneer in regular window showrooms, but a great many homeowners already enjoy them in their homes.

Look at the promotion material from Kawneer and you will see some significant developments of apartments and housing that feature Kawneer doors and windows. So even though some perceive Kawneer as only offering commercial products, many homeowners have Kawneer windows and doors in their homes. What we do not often see is Kawneer windows and doors in a retail window and door showroom.

Given the popularity of bifolding doors and the many new bifolding doors entering the market we are going to take a look from a trade perspective at Kawneer’s offering for bifolding doors. This is the Kawneer AA®3720 model.  We are therefore creating what we believe to be the first ever independent review of the Kawneer bifolding door.

The AA®3720 folding sliding doors from Kawneer.

We have worked with many aluminium systems and have also seen much of the marketing that goes into promoting bifolding doors. The premium aluminium systems invest significantly in marketing their products and videos are a big part of this.

The Kawneer Video on the AA3720 folding door is in our view, one of the best promotion videos we have seen in a long while. The video brilliantly focuses on the product rather than the often used high-end properties with bifolding doors.  It is professionally made and superbly executed.  Kawneer showcases their bifold in a beautiful and innovative way that manages to bring an aluminium door to life.

The video offers several visual perspectives of the different elements of a folding door. You can see the threshold, the head and the running gear, the rollers and how the door stacks in very fine detail. The way Kawneer has given us great close-ups of the frame, head and cill as well as the doors themselves in such beautiful detail and from many angles is ingenious.  We like the subtle detailing of the gasket arrangements, the door mitres coming away to reveal the corner assembly, seals, the lock in motion and other intricate details.  It is first class.

We would even say that this video provides an insight into the design and manufacture of this door that a fully installed door in a home or a showroom probably can’t.  Moreover, it certainly does more than a section drawing could as well. You can enjoy their video below.


Kawneer AA®3720 Bifolding Door Key Features.

kawneer bifolding door installation.
Kawneer folding doors offer excellent proportions, aesthetics, and advanced engineering.

The Kawneer bifolding door is not a brand new product on the market having been available for about three years.  Examination of the door reveals a slimline aluminium door that can meet the requirements of both traditional and contemporary aesthetics.

This is a door that is entirely fit for purpose for a residential property as well as any commercial application. The large choice of profiles makes Kawneer doors versatile and flexible. There are even four muntin bar profiles available – something that most bifolding door systems do not even offer. This demonstrates that when Kawneer designs a product it considers other applications and one-off designs. Other systems companies tend to rationalise their extrusions.

Of particular interest to us and reinforced by the fabrication manual for the Kawneer AA3720 door, was the availability of 35 glazing beads. These range greatly in size and design.  What we do know is that the door is tested to achieve PAS 24 security rating with a particular box bead and there are also other decorative beaded options.

It is also logical to assume that as Kawneer products are designed to integrate with each other, a choice of glazing beads ensures consistent aesthetics when doors and windows mixed to suit the project in hand.

In line with other bifolding door brands, Kawneer provides three hinges per leaf. Four hinges will be fitted where a door is taller than 2400mm, wider than 1000mm or heavier than 90kg.

Kawneer bifolding door profile dimensions and visuals.

Kawneer offers a choice of flat or profiled framing on this door. There is a 45mm high frame as well as a slimmer 30mm frame. These work in conjunction with the (3001 508) profiled or (3001 509) square vents.

From the edge of the outer frame to the glass line, the door offers a dimension of 108mm. This is one of the slimmest bifolding doors you can buy at this outer frame to glass line area. Only the Comar 7 Pi door is 2mm thinner; the AluK door is 2mm thicker. All the other major brands come in in sizes ranging from 125mm to 136mm.

At the cill, the combination of frame choices and four threshold options provide a size ranging from 99mm to 115mm without a cill. Most other major brands are deeper at this point.

Where the door panels meet in the middle, both flat and profiled vents provide the same size of 145mm. This is slimmer than the Origin door, the Warmcore bifold, the SAPA Crown and SAPA Dualfold doors.

The Schuco, Smarts Visofold, Reynears, Centor, Comar 7 Pi and AluK doors are slimmer in this area, with the narrowest in this list being Schuco and Comar at 120mm. While some buyers of bifolds consider this a critical dimension, in our experience these aspects blend in with the overall aesthetics of a door. Some doors like Origin might be bigger but look thinner when viewed as a whole door.

Where a trickle vent is required, Kawneer, like other systems offer an add-on section to the head that adds 34mm to the frame dimension.

Black hinges are provided to match the gaskets. We believe no other colour is on offer. Some customers though, may prefer colour matched hardware as available from other system and the colour matched Q-Lon found on Origin doors.

The seals around the doors are a consistent and slim 11mm on horizontals and verticals which add to the regular lines of the bifolding door all round.

Other Features of the Kawneer bifolding door.

There are many useful features on the Kawneer folding door in line with other well designed and executed folding doors.

An Open Corner Arrangement

The Kawneer door comes with the pivoting corner post section to create an open corner bifolding door such as those offered by Origin, Schuco and others.

Wider and Taller Bifolds.

As expected of a more advanced aluminium designer, Kawneer doors can be made up to 2900mm high and each panel up to 1200mm wide subject to overall panel weights. Schuco and other brands go slightly higher, but all systems tend to have limits governed by overall weight which takes precedence over published sizes.

Handle and lock options.

Three styles of handles are offered with the Kawneer door where companies such as Origin offer 6 and in a bigger range of colours. Kawneer offer silver and satin stainless steel.

We love the look of the intermediate handles and door pulls. These are very contemporary in appearance and don’t look out of place on the door at all. Like the main handles, colour choice is silver or satin stainless steel.

A choice of Thresholds.

detail of kawneer low threshold.
With the level sunken threshold, the upstand ranges from 10-15mm. (click to enlarge)

Kawneer offers four different thresholds. These range from a 45mm high (to the top of the rebate) rebated threshold, a 40mm double-ramped threshold and a 24mm low threshold option.

Typical dimensions from underside of threshold to the top of the glass lines are:

106mm with a standard rebated threshold 115mrebatefitted with

99mm with a low threshold

115m overall with the sunken threshold.  With this arrangement, the low threshold protrudes from 10-15mm.

While the threshold has not been officially weather tested Kawneer tell us that a wool pile and rubber gasket arrangement does offer adequate weathering to approximately 50 pascals.

Narrow Stacking Heights with doors folded.

From the edge of the outer frame to the outside edge of the last folded panel, the dimensions are impressive. These are:

  • 2 panels = 235mm
  • 3 panels = 384mm
  • 4 panels = 415mm
  • 5 panels = 564mm

With three, four and five-panel doors being quite popular, these are impressive dimensions meaning the doors will not take up the space of thicker doors on the market.

No floating mullions with Kawneer doors.

One thing in our experience that some consumers and the trade do not like is the floating mullion.  Floating mullions are a necessary component where it is part of the design of many bifolding door systems.

Some bifold companies market a floating mullion as offering additional strength. Others just explain it in the context of the door layout. There have also been situations where domestic customers have been totally unaware that they are getting a floating mullion on their door and were not fully happy with the doors on installation.

Whatever your views on floating mullions, Kawneer has designed the door to do away with them altogether. The result is a consistent sight line at the end of a two or four-panel bifolding door without the visual bulk on the one side.

Bifolding Doors with Sidelights.

Another smart design feature found in the Kawneer AA®3720 Bifolding Door is the availability of individual couplers at various sizes to connect sidelights. Here the doors are linked to a 32mm coupler (771 168) that is 35mm overall but only adds 15mm to the visible sight line on the face of the doors where they connect to the side frame.

Where a door is attached to a sidelight, the cill detail on the window is lower than the door itself by 49mm. However, where Kawneer have demonstrated excellent design is how the profile of the sidelight section has been developed to match aesthetically that of the door, irrespective of whether it is the profiled or the flat frame.  Where many other bifolding door systems can, of course, couple to screens, often a different system altogether will be used or a different product from the same brand.

In our view, the provision of sidelights to doors is not often a requirement with bifolding door designs. Customers do choose gable or square frames above their doors.  However with some extensions having side returns, very long bifolds or just matching windows, there is an excellent opportunity with the Kawneer system to create consistent sight lines where bifolds meet windows or fixed frames.  We think Kawneer have designed the provision of fixed frames with bifolding doors very well indeed.

Performance and Security Specifications

As you would expect from a modern bifolding door U-Values are good. U-values down to 1.0 W/m2K are possible. This figure is based on the 1200mm panel size and glazed with triple glass and warm edge spacer bars. A double glazed option offers 1.8Wm2K U Values.

An optional enhanced thermal option exists by the fitting of ‘shields’ that split the thermal chambers in the profile even more. More chambers mean better thermal efficiency within the aluminium extrusion.

For fabricators, this is good news. Other systems that offer an “enhanced insulation” option provide a different door variant altogether as in the case of the Schuco Hi Door. Kawneer’s solution means the same product can be ordered and specified, the costs of the door are lower and fabrication of the doors is simpler.

Our conclusion on the Kawneer Bifolding Door.

We see and examine many bifolding doors in order to provide fair and in-depth analysis of them outside of promotional literature and general marketing.  The Kawneer bifolding door reveals itself as a superbly well designed bifold.  It deserves consideration amongst other high quality folding doors. If an attractive, well-engineered and quality is a key factor, Kawneer is up there with other high-end systems.

As with all the other brands of bifolds you get a great colour choice, important security, weather and performance specifications and a choice of double or triple glazing.

The hardware throughout is splendid (although limited in choice) and should appeal to consumers.  The sight lines are consistent and the low threshold in particular looks great. The running gear is of superb quality and moving the doors is that right blend of easy yet robust.  The multi-point lock feels positive in use as do the handles that are brilliantly sprung and of good quality.

We would love to see more Kawneer products in retail showrooms. Like Senior Systems, Kawneer has a nationwide network of highly experienced fabricators and installers that are specialised in what they do, but leaning towards commercial contracting.

The door and window installation businesses that don’t manufacture any products but buy-in fabricated doors should take a good look at the Kawneer product. We think it offers not only a sophisticated folding door but one that comes from one of the most respected global names in architectural aluminium.

Offering Kawneer products can move installers away from other mainstream brands that they may be losing business with from local competition all offering identical systems at varying prices. We think the Kawneer door offers a high-end door option at a great price.

Why the trade should consider selling Kawneer.

kawneer powder coated aluminium window
Windows such as the excellent GT70 Steel Replacement from Kawneer make for great residential windows.

The strength and reputation of the Kawneer brand is such that they could comfortably continue with their operations in the commercial sector.  Even if this door did not have the advantages it does, we think it would still sell well on the strength of the name alone. Everyone in the trade knows Kawneer and that is a huge advantage to resellers, manufacturers and installers.

Moreover, now with Kawneer looking to grow their presence in the residential market this door should sell very well to consumers and installers alike, sold right.

It is not just about bifolds. Kawneer has a great range of residential windows, entrance doors and sliding doors too.  All of these are worthy of consideration as quality products for the consumer market.

As we say and firmly believe, there is no bad bifolding door on the market. It is wrong fabrication and fitting that compromises the integrity of a product.  Properly made and professionally installed this is one fine door from a highly respected brand of international standing.

As the bifolding door market grows so does the market share of systems that were previously more exclusive. A great many people now choose to sell Schuco and Reynaers as two examples and these are indeed fine doors.  Discover Air is another premium door that installers should also consider adding to their product offering.

Kawneer we feel has a great opportunity to hit the consumer market with a decent folding door.  Installers looking to put an ‘added value’ or premium door alongside their standard range should certainly look at the Kawneer product. It is thoughtfully designed, has some nice touches and impressive specifications.  It should be equally compared with Reynaers, Schuco, Origin, Sunfold, Centor or Sunflex to name a few.  In many areas,  it is better.

It is also important to mention that Kawneer do what many systems companies do not. That is, design, extrude and paint their profiles all under one roof and in the UK.   This has demonstrated time and again to offer consistency in supply thanks to the fully integrated supply chain in aluminium windows and doors.

If you would like more information about the Kawneer door, where to see it or to obtain prices and information, please contact us.

Images and section details courtesy of Kawneer
Images courtesy of AluminiumBifold, West Sussex.


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