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How To Dress Bifold Doors: Curtains Or Blinds?

Bifold doors make a wonderful, practical addition to the modern home.  They’re able to fold in on themselves via multiple hinges, allowing them to expand to cover a large area without masses of room on either side.  They’re great for smaller spaces where there isn’t room for a traditional outward-opening door, and they’re great as larger room-dividers and patio doors, too.

If you’ve bought a glazed bi-fold door for your home, but you don’t want to compromise on privacy, then you may want to consider dressing your doors with a set of curtains or blinds.  This need might be especially pressing in the case of patio doors which lead to overlooked gardens, but it might also be present if you’re separating one room from another and want to keep them properly separate.

If privacy is important to you, or you just aren’t keen on the idea that you’re living in a goldfish bowl at night-time, then a set of curtains might be just what’s called for.  Alternatively, blinds might offer the same function, with a few key differences.  Let’s consider some of the merits and drawbacks of each approach.

Should I have curtains on my bifold doors?

If you’re worried about the prospect of glare in your room, then a set of thick, heavy blackout curtains might be required to reduce the amount of light in the room, and enjoy films and games during daylight hours.  Such a set will also considerably improve the heat-retaining ability of the window, as it’ll act as a blanket for your interior.

The problem with hanging curtains in front of a bifold door is that curtain can be incredibly heavy, and by their very nature, bi-fold doors require a great deal of coverage, so require a lot of curtain!  If you’re thinking of installing a set of blackout curtains to cover a floor-to-ceiling, five-meter-wide door, then your rail had better be up to the task! The problem with heavy curtains is that they tend to droop under their own weight, which means any patterns or effects will be ruined. Another major issue is that, as bifold doors are generally built to be as large as possible, there might simply not be enough space between the top of the door and the ceiling for a curtain pole! So as you've probably gathered, it's certainly not easy to make curtains work with bifold doors. That's not to say it's impossible, though! 

One way of getting around this is by using lighter fabrics for your curtains. Try, for example, fixing some light muslin or voile curtains, so that when the doors are open they will drift in the breeze, and when the doors are closed they will hardly take up any space. They won’t exclude light and sound as effectively, but they’ll ensure that your living room is kept private.  Moreover, they barely weigh anything and will collapse into a smaller space.  Muslin or voile curtains for bifold doors are a popular choice; they make a good match for a range of different interiors.

Curtains of every sort tend to look better than blinds, helping to take the edge off the hyper-modern aesthetic of the sliding, folding door.  That said, your personal taste and the setting into which the door is installed might say otherwise.

What about blinds?

Blinds tend to suffer many of the same problems as curtains, however, vertical panel blinds can be a great option for bifold doors. Blinds aren’t quite as thick and heavy as curtains, and they tend not to come with patterns, so any sagging effect isn’t likely to be noticeable.  When you’re considering blinds, you’ll be faced with several options.  The two most popular are roller blinds and Roman blinds.  

Roman blinds will collect at the top of your door, meaning that you’ll need a little bit of space for them to stack. Roller blinds for bifold doors work slightly differently; they collapse into a small cylinder, and consume less space when they’re fully retracted.  

Roller blinds, being elasticated, will require less force to return to their upright position than Roman ones, which can get very heavy and unwieldy.  In either instance, larger blinds might demand an electronic system to lower it for you – but such systems will add considerably to the cost of the installation.

Vertical panel blinds are an appealing option for folding doors; they extend from either side (or both) in the same way as a curtain might.  In some situations, however, they can make a home look like a workplace, and so they should be employed with caution. 

You can also buy bi fold doors with blinds built in, though this obviously limits your choices when it comes to personalisation. The final option could be to install your bi fold doors with electric blinds, though this would obviously prove more costly.

So what should I choose, curtains or blinds?

In choosing between the available options, you’ll want to consider a few different factors.  Let’s take a look at them.

Practicality

It’s important to think about where you’re going to actually attach your curtains or blinds before you order them.  If there’s next to no room at the top of your door, then you’ll struggle to fit a curtain rail in there.   

Light

It’s also worth pondering how much space your device of choice will consume when it isn’t in use, and whether it’ll intrude upon the door.  One of the main advantages of a large, glazed door is that it’ll allow lots of light into your interior.  A large build-up of curtain covering on either side will severely diminish this advantage.  If you’ve gone to the trouble of installing a folding door, then the chances are that you’ll have made it as large as possible – it might even cover the entire wall.  Having done that, you’re not likely to want to obscure a portion of it with a big heavy curtain.

Cost

When considering the cost of a curtain or blind, it’s important to factor in not only the cost of the material itself, but the cost of installing any accompanying hardware like rails and electric motors.  Roman blinds tend to be the cheapest option – though plumping for them often means sacrificing a little bit of usability.

Privacy

In terms of privacy, blinds and curtains tend to be roughly equivalent – bifold patio doors with blinds, even very thin ones, should be enough to prevent anyone standing outside from seeing into your interior.  If privacy is especially important to you, however, then you might opt for something heavier.

In conclusion

Your choice of curtain or blind should be informed by the door you’re looking to pair it with, and the surrounding room.  If you don’t have the necessary space at the top of sides of your door, however, then your options will be severely limited.  Ideally, you’ll want to plan your choice of blind before the door is even installed.  Remember, your most important consideration is how the set of blinds or curtains will look inside the room – and this will largely depend on your personal preference.