For anyone currently considering a home renovation, a new extension or the replacement of their old doors, the bifolding door will probably be at the top of their list of options.
The bifolding door is arguably the best product to open up the inside and outside of the home with a barrier free (low threshold) design.
What you may not have considered are other door and glazing options that can provide the same or completely different aesthetics, function and different ways to open up the back of the home. Before we look at the options to bifolding doors, let us examine some features of the bifolding door as well as things you may wish to consider before you buy.
Advantages and disadvantages to bifolding doors?
Every door whether a bifolding, sliding or hinged door offers benefits and constraints. Every home, customer and budget are different. With bifolding doors being so popular and very much vogue, there is much more to these doors than simply a fashion trend. Bifolding doors are popular because they’re one of the best-known ways to create the barrier free link between the inside and outside of your home. They do this because they fold back to create a full opening. As desirable as it would be to make full use of a bifolding door all year round, most of the time they will act as windows more than doors. So what should you consider with new folding doors?
Consider the British Weather.
As desirable as bifolding doors are, the reality is they will remain closed for most of the time. The more door panels you have, the more visible aluminium with the doors closed. They may therefore not be the ideal door if you want just large panes of glass. Sliding doors may be a better option.
Choose the product carefully and look out for the slimmer bifolding doors on the market. There are frameless bifolding doors, slimline aluminium doors as well as the favourite products by Origin, Smarts Visofold, AluK Doors. Centor, Sunseeker and Schuco doors. Sight lines on a well-designed bifolding door start at about 120mm or less where the doors meet in the middle in the closed position.
With this in mind and if you still want a bifolding door, an access leaf will be a useful feature to build into your doors. On a three panel door and upwards this is an independently hinged door that acts like a regular door letting you in and out of the home without having to slide and fold the doors back entirely or partially every time.
Consider the space bifolds take when folded open.
A four, five or six-panel folding door when fully opened will mean a stack of door leaves all taking up space. Many choose to have opening out doors so that no space is lost in the home.
Most bifolding door frames are between 45mm and 60mm thick per panel. Add to this the hinge and handle clearances as well as the door magnets and you can have quite a lot of bulk when the doors open. Also remember that the wider each door leaf is, the more space it will take up when fully folded back. If you opt for the maximum door panel size of 1200mm available with most upper tier systems such as Kawneer bifolding doors, Reynaers, Schuco and others, this is quite a big stack of doors.
Frameless Glass Curtains manufactured in Kent offer frameless bifolding doors that can not only be made larger than conventional bifolds, but they also take up to 50% less space when all the leaves are folded back.
Consider if you need privacy and shade from bifolding doors.
With many suburban homes being extended at the back and at the same time being overlooked by neighbouring gardens, privacy may be a consideration. There are some exceptional blinds for bifolding doors on the market such as the Origin blind fabric blind or the Morley Glass Integral blind and other options such as switchable glass that changes at the flick of a switch from transparent to opaque. As great as a large glazed door is privacy and shade will also need to be considered. However the same will apply to any door.
Aluminium Door Alternatives to bifolding doors.
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.
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.
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.
Ultra-thin aluminium sliding doors
Also referred to as panoramic sliding doors, at the upper end of the price range, you’ll find these ultra thin contemporary patio doors. The difference between these and a conventional patio door is that the frames are designed to be mostly concealed in the wall and floor. When fitted, only the bare minimum of frames are visible and where the doors meet, the interlock, these can be as narrow as 17mm with some systems.
Slimline sliding doors such as these offer the maximum glass area; they are made at bigger than normal sizes if desired and they also cost more than a standard patio door.
Glass doors with patch fittings.
Glass doors are also available with hardly any frame at all other than the bare components needed for operation and installation. They can be installed individually or as part of a frameless or other types of extensions.
They can also be referred to as structural glass doors, glass doors with patch fittings or armour plate doors. The advantage of these doors is a clear glass door that looks highly modern and is used in extensions for both traditional and modern homes.
Aluminium stacking sliding doors.
Many of us perceive the sliding patio door as being two, three or four panels that all slide along one track. What you may not know is that modern sliding doors have now been developed to slide on multiple tracks. This means a multi panel door can now be opened with all the doors sliding to one side or both. Not only does this open up a space just like a bifold, but it also means you can slide doors to the left or the right as you wish. Depending upon the system this can create a great clear opening. Granted, you will still be left with a stack of doors together, but on a large enough extension it will not matter and it can look really good as well.
Sliding doors recessing into a wall.
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.
Aluminium doors offer flexibility and design choices.
The great thing about aluminium doors is that choose right, buy from the right company and you can find some stunning doors that are nothing like the very good but quite ‘standard’ aluminium doors available. A great example are the PanormAH! doors from Fusion Glazing Systems. These superior doors are designed for those that desire the largest possible doors and often one-of-a-kind designs and sizes.
The Water Tower in London’s Kennington is a fantastic example of what can be done with an aluminium sliding door. These massive glass sliders are spanning two storeys and manufactured from the PanoramaH! product.
With aluminium doors you’ll benefit from slim and sturdy doors, a huge colour choice as well as flexible design options. If you would like more information on the doors featured in this article, please contact us.