What Are Bifold Doors?
Bifold doors are doors that slide open, made from a series of panels that fold up against the wall like a concertina. Although conventional, single leaf doors are common in most modern homes, they can be incredibly inconvenient when you're trying to make the most of the space in your home. A more attractive, sturdy and unique alternative is a bifold door, which pulls open from the centre, giving a full view and full access to what's behind the door in one swift motion. Not only that, but the sheer heft of the sturdy doors, means the 'shuddering' you generally experience with sliding doors will be a thing of the past. Bifold doors can be installed inside or outside your home, as a gateway to your garden or conservatory, or even as a way to split a larger room without losing out on that sense of space. So in terms of flexibility, there really is no better alternative!
What Is A Bifold Door?
Also known as folding sliding doors, bi folding doors or room dividers, bifold doors are so-called because they can fold in or out to open up space. They also have a traffic door for popping in and out on a daily basis. Bifolds are usually glazed with large glass panels that let plenty of light in. With a bifold door, the door itself will slide open, whilst its panels fold up and stack against the wall in order to make the most of a space. As previously mentioned, bifold doors can be internal or external, with internal bifold doors generally used to cover smaller spaces like pantries, laundry rooms or wardrobes, and external bifold doors generally used to connect the inside of the home to the outside. External bifold doors will usually be found at the back of a house, leading into a garden or summer house, but internal bifold doors are found in all manner of places and are suitable for any number of applications. Remember that with all exterior bi-fold doors, the doors themselves should be able to endure harsh weather conditions.
Bifold doors are available in a variety of materials like wood, upvc and aluminium. Timber bifold doors are particularly aesthetically pleasing and aluminium bifold doors are a popular choice for the modern home owner. You'll also find a multitude of colour options available.
How Do Bifold Doors Work?
Interior and exterior bifolding doors both use a simple tracking system that runs along the panels, which are connected on a train. The doors work by folding in on themselves and then gliding along the tracking system with the help of a series of wheels or a lower tracking system, which both lead to a smooth motion and quiet operation. Bifold doors (particularly interior ones) generally come in pairs, with two doors folding to one side or with four that part in the centre with two doors folding back to either side. Your bifold doors will usually come with all tracking and fittings already installed, can be opened either inwards or outwards. It's this kind of flexibility that has led to their popularity in recent years amongst open-minded homeowners. Most bifold doors will have anywhere between two and seven panels, all of which will be connected with hinges and attached to the roller track at the top or bottom of the door (or both). They are remarkably easy to operate, though it's advised that you don't get too carried away as if you use too much force you could end up pulling the doors out of the tracking system.
The Benefits of Bifold Doors
Both internal and external bifold doors offer a significant amount of flexibility and can be customised to suit almost any requirement. They are ideal for connecting living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and more, and could really make your home stand out, especially if you opt for a more bespoke configuration. Flexibility is also a boon for both interior and exterior bifold doors, as you have a variety of materials to choose from (aluminium or timber, for example), as well as numerous different styles, textures, colours, finishes, and shapes. There are certain advantages, however, that are specific to exterior or interior doors. They are also deceptively easy to clean and are easy to fix and install yourself (as long as you have at least some DIY experience, otherwise you might end up doing more harm than good!)
External – The most immediately obvious benefit of using an external bifolding door is the spectacular views it offers, and the idea of bringing a little of the outdoors indoors (without any of the mess). Of course, this will depend on whether or not your garden or back yard is easy-on-the-eye or not, but chances are if it wasn't, you wouldn't have considered the option in the first place! Either way, a set of bifold doors will really maximise the amount of natural light your room gets. Security is also a major advantage, as exterior bifold doors will feature a locking system spread over multiple points of the sliding track instead of simply at one point.
Internal – Bi-fold doors take up very little space when they are open, which makes them the perfect option for smaller interior spaces like laundry rooms or kitchen pantries. This because they fold back on themselves, so take up far less space than french doors or conventional sliding doors. With an interior bifold door opening into your wardrobe, you'll also be able to access the whole space at once, as it opens at both sides. They are also remarkably easy to install, but more on that later.
Are Bifold Doors Secure?
This is a particular concern for external bifold doors, especially amongst people who are not 100% sure about them. They can be very secure, though, more so, in fact, than most other types of external door (as we mentioned above), but the right measures need to be put in place to ensure this. You'll want to make sure your exterior bifold doors have a decent locking system in place, which activates at multiple points instead of just one. You can also take measures to strengthen the glass of the door panels and the frames that support the doors. Reinforced glass is definitely a sensible option if security is a major concern for you. Finally, you could always install an alarm, giving you a little extra piece of mind. This will obviously prove costly, though.
Do Bifold Doors Let In The Cold?
The answer to this question can vary, but good quality, well-fitted bifold doors should not ever be too cold, though if your external bifold doors are opened wide on a hot day, they can help to cool your home without resorting to expensive air conditioning or flimsy fans. The type of glass you choose will have a serious impact on the thermal efficiency of your doors. You could use energy efficient glass (with an R-value of at least 4.0), or use a special lining to maximise efficiency. Even if you don't want to go to this extra effort, though, you shouldn't need to worry about your external bifold doors letting in too much of the cold, because they are built to completely seal your home from the outside world, and are just as effective at doing so as conventional doors. Plus, the larger windows will spend all day letting the sun in, and if you then choose to adorn your doors with curtains or blinds at night, that heat should remain trapped.
Each different sliding door frame material will have varying properties too. Timber is often engineered to maximise thermal insulation and aluminium has a thermal break that helps keep heat transfer to a minimum. Bifold patio doors are also thoroughly tested for weather tightness.
Are Bifold Doors Easy To Install?
Once you have selected the right door size, bifold doors are relatively easy to install for DIY experts. Whilst it's not recommended for just anyone to attempt to install their own bifold doors, internal bifold doors will be much simpler to install than external ones because there is less to worry about with these door styles in terms of hardware. If you have some DIY knowledge and are confident in your abilities, you should be able to tackle the installation of an internal bifold door yourself, but we'd highly recommend seeking professional help if you're looking into installing exterior bi fold doors.
Hopefully, we've been able to give you an insight into exactly what bifold doors are and why you should consider them for both interior and exterior applications. You really won't appreciate just how beautiful and flexible they can be until you take the plunge, though, so enough talking. Get out there and see for yourselves what a pair of bifold doors could do for your home!