Purchasing Bifolding Doors

Photo of author

Nick Dardalis

Purchasing bifolding doors need not be a complicated process.  There are several factors to consider in making the right choice, not least choosing a reputable brand and manufacturer, accompanied by a competent and professional installer.

Here we explain what to look for when purchasing bifolding doors depending on your budget, property improvement project and if you’ve questions about quality, security, energy efficiency or styling. There’s more information about some of the best folding sliding doors brands too and who makes them.

open corner bifolds in large breakfast room purchasing bifolding doors advice
There are many advantages to having bifolding doors and transforming your home such as this stunning open corner example.

How to identify a quality product when purchasing bifolding doors

When purchasing bifolding doors, whilst there are different levels of quality, engineering, performance and styling, overall there’s no bad product. Improving industry standards mean even a cheaper bifolding door meets some similar criteria. Aluminium extrusions, the powder-coated finish, hardware quality and glass quality and type must all meet separate standards well before anyone makes your door.

There are however certain factors separating bifolds in the broader aspect of quality and these include:

  • The brand reputation
  • The experience and reputation of the company making your doors
  • Component quality – individually designed vs more generic hardware
  • The manufacturing guarantee you get with the product

These factors aside, there’s arguably one easy way for a novice to tell a higher quality product from a regular bifold. That is to operate the door. How the panels slide fold, move along the track and lock. Try two different brands side by side and these features are quite easy to spot on a higher quality bifold. Schuco, Origin, Reynaers, Centor, Sunflex and Solarlux are these door brands that simply feel better when you try out the doors.

Identifying a quality bifolding door is also a case of the right manufacturer and installer. Certain brands are only made by the company that designed them. Other brands make their aluminium profiles available for many different factories to make and widely available to buy.

The higher-quality brands are those making their own products or those that select their fabricators and installers only after checks, training and giving them an authorised or approved dealer/distributor status.

Above all, choose your installer carefully and one with evident expertise in bifolding doors. A precise installation is essential to getting the best out of your new doors. Choose carefully when purchasing bifolding doors and you’ll be rewarded with reliable doors giving you years of good service.

best steel look doors and windows showing black slim bifolds

Are bifold doors worth it?

It depends. They’re not great for replacing small door sets like French doors, but anything over 2.5m wide and a bifold can be considered alongside other patio door types. The benefit of a bifold door is how it opens up the opening you have, connecting your room to your patio, garden or balcony. No other door does this.

Bifolding doors are also recommended for smaller properties and where there may only be one garden door, such as terraced houses. Configure your bifold right and with a traffic door, and bifolds can be as functional as any hinged door.

There’s no one-size fits all answer when choosing a bifold. Where it’s going, the size of your property, the price will affect your buying decision.

Bifolding doors – is planning permission needed?

In simple cases where you are only replacing older patio doors or french doors with new aluminium bifolding doors, there is no need to involve an architect.  In the vast majority of cases, you will be required to apply for planning permission.  You will already be aware if there are any restrictions in place regarding making changes to your own particular property, and it is wise to check if you are unsure.  The installation of bifolding doors comes under the rules and regulations of Permitted Developments.

If you are building an extension or carrying out a major home renovation you will most likely be using an architect, They will have the skills and knowledge to design your bifolding doors as part of your build taking into consideration structural and other factors.  The architect will already be well experienced in these matters and will also be on hand for any design or planning considerations.  Depending on the design of your build, you may also need to have structural calculations carried out. For example if you are constructing a large glazed roof, open extension or other such build.

Purchasing bifolding doors – PVCu, aluminium or timber

There are advantages and disadvantages to each material and every product has its place in the marketplace.  With ongoing product development there is no bad product in PVCu, timber, aluminium or hybrid materials, and we say this as an aluminium website with experience of all materials.

PVCu bifolding doors are significantly better than previous generations. Their drawbacks are thicker and bulkier profiles, more prominent hinges and hardware and the issue with more thermal expansion than other materials. They can also be more unreliable longer term. That said, they’re the most affordable option.

Timber bifolding doors are luxurious, beautifully made and built to last. Disregard claims made around these being high-maintenance products. They’re not. Any coated product even aluminium needs repair should you damage the paint and expose the bare material underneath. Even aluminium needs routine cleaning to keep it looking good. The coatings and engineering behind timber bifolds makes them a great option in properties where wood looks best. You get similar if not longer guarantees with some products than aluminium bifolds. They’re not ideal in coastal locations but buyers are aware of what to expect with wood products.

Hybrid bifold doors are nother luxurious option giving you aluminium outside and wood inside. They look spectacular in all types of installations. Like timber, their advantage is superb fit and finish, warm to the touch feel and outstanding U-Values and thermal performance.

The takeaway here is all materials today come with the latest in design and generally built for long service life. And all doors need care and maintenance, no material is a fit and forget product.

Our advice on other materials is to speak to the people behind these materials and products that’ll give you factual information they can back up. Don’t rely on incorrect information by generic home renovation websites with little product or material knowledge and a message that only aluminium doors are low maintenance. They’re not.

purchasing bifolding doors showing a solarlux high end door in a new home

The best colours when purchasing bifolding doors

Whilst it is widely accepted that replacement windows and doors will often be white, colour has made a dramatic impact on the British home improvement sector in recent years.  

It is not uncommon for customers to choose white windows and bifolding doors in a contrasting colour.  Grey remains one of the most popular with over 27 different grey shades available from reputable polyester powder coaters.  However, with over 200 colours available, customers are getting bolder with colour choices, choosing yellows, reds, blues, greens and other vivid shades.

When purchasing bifolding doors, your colour options in addition to standard paint finishes include:

  • Metallic and anodised finishes
  • Foils in either a plain or wood effect just like luxury PVCu windows
  • A different colour inside and out
  • Coated finishes in a woodgrain finish

Understanding bifolding door security 

The rear of the property is usually the targeted area for burglars looking to gain entry into a property as this is the hidden area in many homes.  Door and window security all over the property is important, but more so with bifolding doors, as they effectively create large glazed areas.  

Bifolding doors are extremely secure with some systems offering above standard locking systems such as 8 point locks including bolts locking into the top and bottom of the frame. Additionally, the well-engineered and secure doors will meet BS7950, PAS 23/24 Secured by Design Accreditation.  Ask to see the official test reports for the doors in question.  Five-point locking should be a minimum requirement.

Even all glass bifolding doors have passed stringent security testing.  Frameless Glass Curtains are one company that make frameless bifolding doors that despite their lack of frame and particularly where all the doors meet when closed. They are exceptionally well made and secure.

Whether you get an SBD/Secured by Design door depends on a number of factors. Therefore, just because a company displays a badge or makes a claim doesn’t mean your doors have this certification or SBD status.

Bifolding door energy efficiency explained

The requirements of current Building Regulations around energy-efficiency for doors are clear.

The good news is most bifolding doors on the market meet or exceed this minimum requirement of Band E or 1.8Wm2K U-Value when replacing in exising dwellings and 1.6Wm2K in new build.

The energy rating or U-Value you get depends on the glass your doors come with. Expect as a minimum when purchasing bifolding doors to get doors glazed with toughened safety glass, having a soft-coat low-emissivity coating, warm edge spacer bars and argon gas fill. Triple glazing, Krypton gas and high specification units create a more energy efficient door set.

Why you must always see and try out a bifold door

A bifolding door is one of the more expensive products when it comes to windows and doors generally and it makes absolute sense to visit many showrooms and see the range of doors on offer.  Do not be put off if window showrooms only show one make of door, shop around ask what system that door is and do your research as to the merits of each particular door.  Not all bifolding doors are the same.  

Look at the hardware options on offer, the threshold options, the sight lines when the doors are closed and how the doors glide in operation and how they lock. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Or you can get in touch for more information and advice on any product you’ve seen.

Fitting and Maintenance. 

It should take no more than one day to fit and glaze your bifolding doors which will be carried out by your builder or a reputable window company.  The accurate installation of the doors is absolutely crucial in ensuring they operate and lock correctly and will give years of trouble-free operation.  Bifolding doors are generally very reliable and many problems can be overcome with correct adjustment and installation.

Longer-term, bifolding doors need little in the way of maintenance other than ensuring the tracks are free of debris and the paint finish is kept routinely clean.

More information and advice on purchasing bifolding doors

With a deep knowledge of virtually every bifolding door on the market, we’re perfectly placed to help you choose the right product based on price, styling or functionality.