External Bifold Doors: Withstanding The Elements
Whilst external bifold doors are a wonderful way to bring extra light and warmth into your home, many might worry that they might not be able to stand up to the elements as well as a more conventional setup.
These worries, however, are, more often than not, ill-founded. Bifolding doors can not only help keep your home insulted and safe, but are, generally speaking, built to last, regardless of the weather. So, whether you're living in an area that's blessed with sunshine 80% of the year, or an area where it's raining more often than it's not, an external bifold door could be a legitimate option for livening up your homestead.
Are Bifold Doors Weatherproof?
Technically no, bifold doors are not 100% weatherproof, but neither are the vast majority of other external door options. The only reason a the common negative misconception exists about the weatherproofing of bifold doors, is that there is simply more space given to glass, which many assume is not as weatherproof as wood, metal or brick.
That's not necessarily the case. Indeed, exterior bifold doors are able to withstand the harsh elements, as well as the more generic day-to-day elements, just as well as any other external door. If you've done a bit of research on this topic already, you've probably come across the term “low threshold.”
This, in a nutshell, is why bifold doors are more weatherproof than conventional patio doors. The threshold is, quite literally, the part beneath the door that keeps the outside out and the inside in, so if it's lower towards the floor, there's obviously less room for the weather to seep in.
What you really need to look out for, more than anything, when inspecting your potential bifold doors, at least in terms of weatherproofing, is the seal between the threshold of your doors and the floor. These seals will typically be rubber, but can also be made from brush, which is generally not as secure.
A tight seal will not only keep out water and wind, but will also reduce heat loss from your home. It also, obviously, keeps the doors more secure from potential intruders. A good litmus test to check if the seal is tight enough (though if you're in a showroom, you might want to do this when nobody is looking) is to close one of the doors onto a sheet of paper and attempt to pull the paper out.
If it stays put, regardless of how much force you use, you've got yourself a water tight compression, if not, you might want to take your business elsewhere! All our bifold doors are weather tested to exacting standards so you can buy with confidence.
The material you use to build your bifold door frames will obviously also have an impact on how weatherproof it is, as will the quality of the glazing (double glazing is generally a must). Generally, UPVC frames are not the best choice in areas where you'll be getting lots of natural sunlight and hot days, as the plastic can twist and warp with heat and sunlight exposure over time.
They are, however, the most affordable frames out there, and are perfectly acceptable for guarding against many other elements, such as wind, rain and snow. Timber and oak frames are a little more substantial (and costly), but require a lot more maintenance on your part. Aluminium meanwhile, is very sturdy indeed, though obviously more expensive.
One common misconception with aluminium external bifolding doors is that they are cold to the touch, inside and out. However, as long as your frames are thermally broken to avoid cold bridging (where energy is transferred through the frame, causing heat loss from inside to out), your doors will only be cold on the outside.
Of course, if you're particularly worried about the elements, for example, if you live in an area prone to bouts of strong weather, there are steps you can take to further weatherproof your bifold doors. You can increase the protection on your rubber bifold door seals with reinforced rubber, and there are numerous companies that sell foam weather seal kits designed specifically to ensure a 100% weathertight seal at the bottom of your bifold doors.
Finally, remember that there are plenty of weatherproof paints on the market. You'll be genuinely amazed what protection a simple coat of primer can offer!
Are Bifold Doors Thermally Efficient?
They are indeed, as long as they are installed correctly and are of a sufficient build quality. If your bifold door frames are made from timber, make sure that the wood is FSC-certified, but otherwise you should be fine as long as you shop smart. They are also nowhere near as draughty as common patio doors.
One thing we will say, however, is that whilst aluminium might be more secure and generally better at keeping out harsher elements, it's also generally less thermal efficient than wood or UPVC. The thermal rating of your external bifold doors will be is measured in U-Values. The lower the U-Value the better the rating. A decent U-Value rating would be around 1.3 or 1.4, so keep that in mind when you're shopping around and asking questions.
Because bi-fold doors attain higher levels of thermal retention and energy efficiency than conventional patio doors, you'll also increase the energy efficiency in your home, not only saving yourselves a pretty penny, but saving the environment a few tears at the same time!
On the flip side, the variety of different ways that a bi-fold door can be opened also means that they provide enhanced ventilation compared to conventional patio doors. So there really are very few reasons not to at least consider them for your next home improvement kick!
How The Weather Might Affect Bifold Doors
Condensation and Misting (Inside) – If you notice condensation building up on the inside of the window panels of your external bifold doors, then it's more than likely that the glazing unit has failed. The reason condensation is appearing is because the seal has broken, allowing normal air to get inside the glass unit.
This air contains moisture resulting in condensation inside your glass unit. If this has happened, it's likely that the glass is old and needs to be replaced, but they should be insured, so replacing them shouldn't cost you a thing. If you they are not insured, you can replace the glass panels yourself, but we wouldn't recommend it unless you're quite skilled in DIY.
Condensation and Misting (Outside) – This is nothing to worry about. It's a natural occurrence with all double glazed units, which usually occurs in late summer and early autumn when the night temperature drop several degrees. It will soon evaporate when the outside temperature rises.
In fact, because condensation is forming on your windows, it actually means there's very little heat escaping from inside your house, so it actually proves that you have energy-efficient windows. You might also experience condensation on aluminium bifold doors for the same reason. The metal surface gets very cold so condensation will form. This happens on an energy saving aluminium bifold door because the heat is safely locked inside.
Leakage – If water is seeping into your home through the bottom of your exterior bifold doors, there is obviously a problem with the seal that needs to be sorted! if you're suffering from this problem you might be wondering how to weatherproof your patio door.
You could simply replace the seal to fix this, or reinforce it. Failing this, you could use silicone caulk to seal any gaps beneath your doors. Water could also be leaking into your home if the bifold door frame is particularly old and rotting away. If this is the case, you might need to consider calling in some professional help to tackle your sliding door weatherproofing!
Ultimately, you can never protect 100% from the weather, because the weather is, by its very nature, unpredictable. What you can do, however, is give yourself the best chance against it. Hopefully we've been able to convince you that this is not a folly, and is in fact quite simple, as long as you understand that there might be a little work involved.
One final point to consider before we leave you though; always check to see if the bifold doors you're purchasing comply with current building standards. If they do, you should have a weatherproof patio door.