Alternatives to bifolding doors for new extensions

Building a new extension and don’t want bifolding doors? Alternatives to bifolding doors include sliding doors, slide and stack doors, pivot doors and even pocket doors. And there are other options still creating a statement piece patio door product connecting your home to your garden in summer and creating a bright interior on winter days. In this article we give you all the possible options available as credible alternatives to bifolding doors. These can also apply to existing openings as a replacement for dated patio doors.

examining alternatives to bifolding doors for homes and apartments
Bifolding doors are attractive, functional and popular. But there are many other alternatives

Five reasons for considering alternatives to bifolding doors

The obvious first reason for considering alternatives to bifolding doors is you don’t like them as a product despite their popularity and appeal for homes large and small. This is fine and this article is here to provide other options.

As good as bifolding doors are, there are five reasons people have for not wanting one. These are:

  1. The look when when closed with too many vertical mullions and panels
  2. You want something with larger glass sizes, minimalist or slimline
  3. They take up too much space when folded back
  4. They’re too expensive
  5. You want something with a simpler operation or more features

There are other reasons why bifolds aren’t suitable. If you have or are building smaller door openings and can only have a two panel door, bifolds in this design aren’t the most functional. Or perhaps planning restricts the types of products you’re allowed.

Understanding what you want from your patio doors

open corner bifolding doors as an alternative to bifolding doors
One of the reasons we invest in new patio doors is getting more out of how we use our home

One reason for the popularity of aluminium patio doors whatever the type is the lifestyle options they meet. Moreover, our patio doors stay closed for most of the year. The summer months mean thinking about al fresco dining and opening up the back doors creating a link to the garden is probably top of the list.

Entertainment or dining, children enjoying the new room and garden, getting a better home are all genuine reasons for choosing the best patio doors meeting your needs at the end of a property renovation project.

For other people, it’s about making the most of what they have already. Perhaps you’ve a countryside home or one having excellent views. Here you’re thinking what door type makes the most of these closed as well as open. Others may have a smaller home and want their doors to help maximise the space or create an illusion of a bigger space. Or it’s simply a case of creating a brighter and better room.

What most other doors provide that’s the same as bifolding doors

There are some features of a bifold many people still want from a new patio door regardless of the type.

A low or flush threshold

Whether it’s for easy access or a better look, getting a low level threshold on a bifold, is still required with other types of doors. The good news is most of the alternatives to bifolding doors still give this lower threshold.

You can still have a minimal step, your interior flooring lining through with your decking and slabs. Of course you want the full weather protection and most alternatives to bifolding doors offer this too.

Slimmer or reduced sightlines

There’s no doubt the thinner door is one of the most popular choices. Slimmer profiles mean larger glass sizes leading to more light and better views.

Reduced aluminium profiles aren’t available with every alternative to a bifold door, but there are some great options with most other products, including fully frameless doors.

Better energy-efficiency

Saving money on heating bills is also important when investing in new glazing. Thanks to insulated aluminium profiles and high specification glass, all alternatives to bifolding doors for new extensions come with excellent U-Values and energy-efficiency.

The alternatives to bifolding doors in aluminium

There are now more options than ever as alternatives to bifolding doors for both existing openings and for new extensions. Some of these even give you the bifold functionality but do away with some features you don’t like about them.

We have put together a selection of door types and styles that you may or may not have heard of that can work very well in a home or as part of a new extension.  All these can offer the great views, large glass panels and open up space from the inside to the outside.

Why you may want to consider French Doors

aluco steel-look glazing
Steel look French doors such as these by Aluco are an excellent alternative to bifolding doors

The French door remains one of the most affordable solutions as an alternative to bifolding doors. These doors start as small doors for existing openings going up to multiple connected door sets for larger apertures.

The benefit of French doors is just opening the one leaf and they come in the largest product brand choices.

French doors also come in the highly desirable steel-look style, and are undoubtedly the best product for Art-Deco, Heritage or industrial look doors.

Sliding Doors for the largest glass panels

new sliding doors with large panels as glass alternative to bifolding doors
When closed, sliding doors have fewer visible profiles than bifold doors

The sliding door is the only product delivering the largest possible glass sizes. Even if it’s a standard size door, the glass is still bigger than what bifolding doors come with.

It’s worth comparing how sliding doors differ from bifolding doors as well as with French doors, but nothing creates a feeling of space like a grand slider. You’ll also find the frame profiles more than half the size of a bifold with the doors closed. We think sliding doors are one of your best alternatives to bifolding doors for a new extension or replacing dated patio doors.

The downside to sliding doors is not giving you the full opening like a bifold when open, but the benefits when these doors are closed are a wall of insulated glass and the best garden views.

Ultra-slim sliding doors for minimal frame lines

sunvista some of the best sliding patio doors
Slimline doors give you even less visible aluminium and larger glass sizes. The Sunvista sliding door with 19mm mullions

Even slimmer than standard patio sliding doors are ultra-slim and minimal patio doors.

These are one of the most popular alternatives to bifolding doors and deliver the bare minimum of aluminium and the most glass. They’re complex to make and install, but the end result is quite special.

Slide and stack or slide and turn doors

slide and turn design as alternative to bifolding doors
Slide and turn provide similar functionality to a bifold but with more features

There are several reasons why we recommend slide and stack doors as alternatives to bifolding doors. First of all you get the same fully open aperture of a bifold. However, the doors move as independent panels rather than concertina doors all connected together.

The slide and stack or slide and turn design still requires your doors to stack in one place so you need this room, inside the room or outside of the patio. But, these independent panels also let you place furniture right up to the doors either inside or out. The doors move along the track then fold inwards right at the end.

They’re space saving, provide ventilation gaps between the doors as the image shows and come with thinner sightlines than a regular bifold with most products.

The frameless slide and turn doors

frameless slide and turn doors in a character home
The frameless slide and stack door by FGC with no aluminium at the mullions and full weather sealing

Even more exclusive than the framed slide and stack door is the frameless version. Frameless Glass Curtains Limited (FGC) provide double glazed slide and stack doors with no aluminium at the mullions and no visible mullions as a result. Even the glass units have a transparent edge.

The doors connect with a sophisticate gasket and a sightline as small as a finger. Despite their frameless design at the mullions they come with all the security and weather protection you need from your new patio doors. FGC’s doors are top-end and not the cheapest but the look they deliver is altogether different. There’s also a single glazed internal version for room dividers and partitions

Aluminium Pivot Doors

Aluminium pivot doors can be made at sizes substantially wider and taller than a standard hinged door.  With sizes up to 3 metres width and height possible just from one door, nothing makes a dramatic a statement than a door of this magnitude and stature.

You can choose any size door but a large single swing pivot door offers something very different from the norm. They’re not for everyone but a highly contemporary alternative to bifolding doors. When open they do project quite far into the space.

When closed an aluminium pivot door provides a large glass panel letting in lots of light. When opened it can create a large clear opening. It is a very well designed aluminium door with a weighted and positive feel to it that really is something different from the norm.

Pivot doors are set upon a floor spring at the bottom and a top hinge and this hardware enable even heavy doors to open with ease.  They will encroach significantly on the inside and outside space when opened, owing to their offset nature. However for a real wow factor when it comes to a door, it cannot be beaten. They are exceptional.

The only consideration with a pivot door is because of the way it opens you will not get the weathering characteristics of a conventional door with a rebated frame all round. As a result, they’re better in more sheltered locations

Pocket sliding doors

pocket sliding doors as alternatives to bifolding doors in london house
Pocket sliding doors slide into the wall disappearing from view, maximising the opening

The sliding door can also be installed in conjunction with your builder so that the leaves slide into the walls disappearing. The advantage of these doors is that when fully opened only a minimal amount of door is visible, just enough to hold the door and slide it closed.  Doors sliding into the wall cavity are arguably the only door that will achieve a bigger clear opening than a bifold because doors are not visible when opened.

Virtually any well designed sliding door such as the Aïr lift and slide doors, Reynears sliding doors, Schuco Sliding doors and others can be made to slide away from view. Banks of doors can be designed as well as a corner set of doors opening up the corner of the extension with no visible corner post and both sides of the corner doors disappearing into the wall.

Doors that move completely out of the way

patio doors moving out of the way into a cupboard
Sunparadise Monoslide 80 doors moving completely out of the way or out of sight

Sunparadise make the Monoslide 80 giving you all the available clear opening. These doors work in a slide and stack design but come with an altogether different track and head arrangement .

This design has the panels moving independently like slide and stack doors. Then the panels can go along an additional track and stack inside the room, outside on the wall or even out of sight in a cupboard. Another benefit is using these doors with a full open corner style of extension giving you more of the opening than regular bifolds and even sliding doors. Different, unique, distinctive and worth checking out.

ID Systems is a specialist installer of these, sliding doors and slide and stack doors.

Tilt and Turn Windows for something altogether different

tilt and turn aluminium windows designs in a bedroom

Windows such as a tilt and turn design provides an altogether different product solution for bifolding doors. Not every design will suit these, but tilt and turn windows come at larger sizes than regular windows and even up to the height of a door.

These windows tilt back for ventilation by rotating the handle. Turn the handle the other way and the entire window swings in just like a door. They’ve got compromises but could work well such as leading out to a flat roof or providing more secure ventilation without having to open a door.


This article gives patio door solutions as alternatives to bifolding doors and highlights the advantages of aluminium as the best material for doors large or small. We can help with local suppliers and installers of these and other doors or windows.

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