5 Things to consider when buying bi-fold doors

Cassie Pryce

Connect your living space with the outdoors by installing on-trend bi-fold doors, perfect for making the most of summer living

Whether you want to maximise natural daylight in your home or benefit from modern open-plan living, bi-fold doors will help to create a seamless flow between indoors and out. As with any substantial investment, it’s worth doing your research, so we’ve outlined some of the key points below to take into consideration.

 

1. Material world

The first thing to contemplate is the range of options available for your door frames. 

Aluminium is one of the most popular choices, thanks to its slim and narrow profile, meaning it won’t eat into your garden view with a chunky frame. It offers a sleek finish, ideal for modern builds and new extensions, and is a strong and sturdy material that requires very little maintenance. 

uPVC is a more budget-friendly alternative that is also extremely easy to maintain. You’ll often find that these frames are thicker and wider than aluminium, so bear that in mind depending on the overall look you want to create. 

For older properties or a more traditional feel, timber-framed bi-folds are a good option and have strong thermal insulating properties, too. Just be sure to opt for an engineered timber, or wood that has been sealed well, to avoid any warping or twisting affecting the mechanisms over time.

ClickFit bi-fold door blinds in bone white, from £24, Blinds2go

 

2. Magic number

The number of doors you require will depend on the size of the wall you want to fit the bi-folds into. Generally, people opt to fill as much of the width of the wall as possible, but you can always adapt this to fit your budget. The more glass you’re able to incorporate, the more natural daylight you’ll let into the room. 

If you have lots of panels installed, you might choose to have a split with half the doors folding back in one direction, and the other half in the opposite.  

It’s a good idea to have a master door within the bi-folds, which is a door that can be used independently to the other panels to be used for everyday outdoor access.

 

3. Safety first

As with any new doors or windows being installed in your home, it’s important to consider how secure they will be. The good news is that modern bi-folds are an extremely secure option if you have them properly installed and purchase them from a reputable company. 

They typically come with multi-point locking systems (unlike traditional French doors, for example, which just have the one lock), as well as a minimum of double-glazed glass. With the panes of glass running along the tracks of the bi-folding mechanism, lifting them out is an extremely difficult and noisy job, which acts as a deterrent to burglars in itself.

Umbris louvre roof, IQ Outdoor Living

 

3. Hot topic

When selecting your bi-folds, be sure to check the U-value of the doors as an indicator of how thermally efficient they are. The lower the number, the less heat is lost. This value shows how well they retain heat inside your home, so choose a design with a low U-value to ensure heat isn’t being wasted and that the elements are kept well and truly outside. 

UK building standards require that all external doors have a value of 1.8W/m2K or less, so check this with your supplier before purchasing.

Valverdi Iguazu indoor-out tiles, from £34.13 per square metre, The London Tile Co

 

5. Behind the scenes

Bi-folds are generally quick to install and can normally be fitted in a day. When choosing your frame, you’ll have to decide whether you’d like the doors to be top-hung or bottom-rolling. This refers to where the weight of the doors will be supported. 

Top-hung bi-folds require your structure to have a strong beam in place in order to hold the weight of the doors, but they allow a lot of the mechanism to be hidden rather than on-show at the base of the frame. Bottom-rolling bi-folds are a slightly more common choice as they’re easier to fit and don’t require such structural support, as the weight isn’t pulling down. On the flip-side, the rolling mechanism can sometimes be disrupted by fallen leaves and dirt getting lodged in the exposed tracks. It’s a good idea to speak to your supplier about both options to see which is better suited to your property.