Bi-fold doors are not only an aesthetically pleasing addition to any home but they can also add value to your property. However, with so many materials, security features and optional extras available, choosing the perfect design can be a confusing affair. With this in mind, here is a step by step guide to help you select a bi-fold door that suits your specific needs.
Bi-Fold Door Materials – Your Options
Prior to purchasing a bi-fold door, you will need to consider which type of material is most suitable for you; uPVC, aluminium and timber. All three material types come with their own set of key features designed to complement your budget, property style and aesthetic preference.
uPVC Bi-Fold Doors
- uPVC bi-fold doors are among the most affordable options on the market and require little maintenance making them ideal when keeping costs to a minimum. The only upkeep required is annual cleaning which makes them a stress free solution for properties of every style.
- The frames on uPVC bi-fold doors tend to have a slightly bigger profile to create a robust frame that is a little wider in appearance but overall they are easy on the eye. They are recommended for narrower apertures but can become problematic in wider applications.
- A good quality uPVC bi-fold door from a reputable home improvements company will have excellent thermal efficiency properties. If it’s going in place of old patio doors, it’s highly likely that its installation will make you savings on your energy bills.
- uPVC comes in a great variety of styles and colours so you can tailor your choice to suit both your personal tastes and the existing windows and doors in your property.
Aluminium Bi-Fold Doors
- Aluminium bi-fold doors are built to last and one of the greatest advantages of choosing this type of material is that it is has an excellent strength to weight ratio. They require very little upkeep and are guaranteed to stand the test of time.
- The frames are powder coated which means they never have to be repainted. Unlike wood, this design is less prone to be affected by the elements and these doors will not rot or warp. Due to the premium quality materials used in aluminium bi-fold doors they are also one of the most expensive designs.
- Another reason that aluminium bi-fold doors are so popular is due to the strength of the material, the frames typically have a slimmer profile allowing maximum natural light to flood into your property’s interior.
- One concern raised by homeowners is that, as a metal, aluminium is associated with poor thermal efficiency. However, a good quality bi-fold door will incorporate what is called a ‘thermal break’ to address this issue and reduce the flow of thermal energy. A ‘thermal break’ is a barrier between the frame that prevents heat from escaping and cold air from entering thus improving thermal performance.
Timber Bi-Fold Doors
- The last option to consider is timber or wooden bi-fold doors. One of the main advantages of timber/wooden bi-fold doors is they are aesthetically pleasing and are available in a wide range of colours making them a versatile option that complements properties of every style from classic to contemporary. This design lends itself especially well to traditional style homes or period properties due its classic charm.
- New timber bi-fold doors require very little maintenance but in the long run they may require a fresh coat of paint and varnish to sustain their striking appearance.
- The frames are slightly wider than aluminium but typically comparable to uPVC.
- Wood is a good insulator giving the frames on timber bi-fold excellent thermal properties.
- Timber bi-fold doors also feel very substantial and secure.
What Security Features Should You Look For?
When choosing a bi-fold door, safety is always a top priority. Bi-fold doors are a robust option for any property and they come with a plethora of security features to offer customers complete peace of mind.
- Formed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and founded in 1989, Secured by Design status is accredited to products and companies that meet a certain level of security standards. Determine whether or not the product in question meets the Secured by Design standards. If the product is included in this scheme it means it has passed a number of security checks to give you peace of mind that it will make a reliable addition to your home.
- Check to see if the door conforms to BS 6375. This is the British Standards for doors and focusses on the materials used as well as performance and endurance. In order to pass the BS 6375 test, the door must withstand being opened and closed in excess of 50,000 times without failure of the door, frame, hinges or locking system. This is only one of many tests.
- Bi-fold doors also boast a number of secure locks, hinges and handles to protect against lock snapping, drilling and picking and when choosing your product, there are a number of essential security features to look out for. One of these security features is a multi point locking system. Heavy duty shoot bolts secure each door at the top and bottom and lockable handles are also included in the design. Superior locking cylinders are also used to add extra protection against vandalism and burglary.
- Many bi-fold doors now come with built in finger safe gaskets to prevent trapping and injury.
- Lastly there are a number of glazing options available when choosing bi-fold doors and laminated glass is a superb option for maximum security. This type of glass features an extra layer to provide a tougher exterior which in turn makes it harder to break. Even if the glass does shatter, this additional layer bonds the glass together to prevent shards of glass from falling and causing injury.
Frame Thickness and Number of Leaves
When considering bi-fold doors, frame thickness and the number of leaves required are two very important factors. There is complete flexibility to the design of bi-fold doors allowing you to choose how many leaves you wish to include but it is wise to keep in mind that the more leaves you have, the bigger the retracted door will be in the open position.
You can also choose which way the doors open and you have the option to have all of the leaves opening one way or some the other. One important decision to make is whether you want an odd or even number of leaves. The general rule is to keep the number of leaves to a minimum as fewer leaves are more visually appealing.
The thickness of the frames, to a certain extent depends upon the type of material that you choose, but the thicker the frame the less glazed area there will be, resulting in less light coming into your room.
One of the key features of a bi-fold door is the threshold. There are a number of different types of threshold designs to choose from including a rebated threshold and a low, flat threshold.
One of the advantages of the rebated threshold is that its design provides homeowners with the ultimate in weather protection and is recommended for external use. The rebate acts as a barrier against the elements and prevents rain from entering the property.
Low thresholds provide a seamless finish between rooms and are well suited to bi-fold doors that are used internally as room dividers. Therefore, the best type of threshold for your property will depend on the location of the bi-fold doors and your personal choice.
Corner Bi-Fold Doors
Corner systems are an innovative option that like standard bi-fold doors provide unprecedented amounts of natural light into a property. However, unlike standard bi-fold doors, this design involves two sets of doors that meet on a corner. Corner bi-fold door designs work well even in awkwardly shaped homes or small rooms and provide not only an abundance of light but the illusion of more space. Like standard bi-fold doors, corner bi-fold doors are available in many configurations in terms of leaves and frames.
There are many factors to consider when choosing bi-fold doors from the type of material to the number of security features to the colour and style. Every type of bi-fold door is guaranteed to enhance your home and the best option simply depends on your specific requirements and your budget.