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Bifold Doors To The Conservatory

Bi-fold doors between the conservatory and the home are a popular means of breaking down barriers between the respective spaces, and thereby creating a single larger one.  A bi-folding door which incorporates large amounts of glass is typically a good way to go, as it’ll bring the defining characteristic of a conservatory – transparency – to come to the fore.  Let’s take a closer look at the technology, and how it might get the best from your conservatory.

Why install bi-fold doors to the conservatory?

The purpose of a conservatory is to allow as much light as possible into an interior space.  They’re the perfect place to soak up the British sunshine – even if the temperatures outdoors remain stubbornly chillier than ideal.

A lean-to conservatory with bi-fold doors is a great way to expand on your property, as it’ll allow natural light to enter the adjoining room.  In fact, in many cases, conservatory sliding doors might allow for even more light than an ordinary window – particularly those where glass dominates the surface of the door.

Adjoin your living room with a large, folding door of this sort and you’ll be able to see all the way from your sofa to your garden via your conservatory.  What’s more, you’ll be able to collapse the door down into almost nothing, thereby creating a larger living space which seamlessly transitions from one space to the other; at one moment you’ll be surrounded by brick and mortar, and then at another you’ll be surrounded by glass.

Naturally, a folding set of doors isn’t the only solution of this sort on offer.  Traditional French and sliding doors provide lots of glass and thus represent appealing alternatives.  But French doors tend to be smaller, and thus can’t quite open out a large wall space in quite the same way.  Even if you supplement them with sidelights, they won’t be able to open to quite the same extent as folding doors between house and conservatory environments.  Sliding doors, on the other hand, must stack atop one another, and can thus never shrink smaller than the size of a given panel. 

Conservatory Internal Door regulations

Building a conservatory, or modifying an existing one, can often cause homeowners to fall foul of building regulations.  Of course, when it isn’t the exterior of the conservatory itself that’s being altered, but the door on the inside, then you won’t need to worry too much about obtaining planning permission.  Contact your local planning authority and discuss your project; they’ll be able to appraise you of any reason you might run into trouble.

If you’re replacing the door on the inside, you’ll want to pay special attention to part L of the building regulations, which deals with energy efficiency.  Your options will be limited by the quality of the conservatory itself.  If it has a polycarbonate roof rather than a double-glazed glass one, then it the door inside won’t qualify as an interior one.  You’ll need to separate your home from the conservatory via a substantial external door in order to keep your home properly insulated.  If the conservatory is made entirely from double-glazed (or triple-glazed) glass, then you’ll have more options – you might even decide to dispense with the door entirely.

How to install a bi-fold door in a conservatory

When installing a folding door into a conservatory, it’s vital that you pay close attention to the surrounding structure.  The weight of the surrounding glass, and the roof overhead will need to be borne at least partially by the top rail of the door.  When we consider that these doors can be more than six metres wide, and often far more, these considerations become all the more pressing.  Over time, an insufficiently re-enforced folding door might bow and even collapse beneath the weight of the structures above it.

To prevent this, a bi-fold door set should be combined with a frame that can support the weight of the roof overhead.  You’ll want to seek the opinion of a structural engineer before you begin knocking through walls and installing doors.  If you’re adjoining a part of your home with a conservatory, then it’ll be the main building itself rather than the conservatory that you need to worry about.

Once you’ve established that you’re legally allowed to install your door and that the building will still be structurally and thermally sound afterward, you can get on with the far more straightforward business of actually getting the door into position.  This should be done in much the same way as if you were installing a folding door anywhere else. 

A top-hung door system, which dispenses with the rail at the bottom of the door and thereby allows a seamless join between your conservatory and your interior, will need to be paired with a heavy lintel that’s strong enough to bear the weight of three, four, five or even six panels.  While it is more than possible to install your folding door yourself, and thereby save money, it’s worth considering bringing in an experienced and reputable joiner to do the job on your behalf – just get in touch, and we’ll be able to help pair you with a local tradesperson.

In Conclusion

Bi-fold doors make an excellent match for conservatories of all shapes and sizes.  They allow for greater light dispersal through the home and help to elevate that all-important sense of space.  They can be very wide or very narrow to suit the available space, and they’re capable of tremendous heat efficiency. 

That said, the condition and design of the surrounding conservatory will limit your options when it comes to picking a folding door to go with it.  You might, therefore, consider installing a bi-fold door as part of a more general overhaul (or replacement) of your entire conservatory – particularly if it’s nearing the end of its life cycle.  A high-quality conservatory adjoined to your home by a high-quality folding door is sure to look and function fantastically – and bolster the value of the property, too.