Bifold doors are all the rage in modern-day establishments, as they create a grand entrance that will immediately catch your attention.
They are far more convenient and practical than conventional sliding doors and, as such, make for a beautiful home addition. However, not all of us are familiar with this design, and it makes sense to learn more before deciding on its utility.
After all, we want you to make all considerations before opting for one. That’s why we have put together this detailed guide to share relevant information on bifold doors. But before we move on, let’s begin by explaining the structure itself.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
What is a Bifold Door and How Does it Work?
Table of Contents
- What is a Bifold Door and How Does it Work?
What Is A Bifold Door?
Also known as room dividers and folding sliding doors, bifold doors are called so since they can fold in or out to create an opening. Additionally, they include a traffic door for easier and faster access.
These structures constitute oversized glass panels that allow plenty of light inside your home. While the door itself slides open, the panels neatly fold up and stack against the wall to make room for entrance.
The best part is that you can install these doors both at internal and external locations. Inside homes and commercial buildings, bifold doors are often found in smaller spaces like laundry rooms, pantries, and wardrobes.
In contrast, exterior bifold doors are designed to create a visual and physical link to the outdoor landscape. So, the latter is usually installed on the rear side of homes that lead to the garden, backyard, or pool.
Meanwhile, the internal models are used in different spaces within the establishment and are widely used for several applications. However, you should keep in mind that exterior bifold units are specially designed to sustain harsh weather conditions and the outdoor environment.
These intricate structures are available in a variety of build materials, including wood, aluminum, and uPVC. While timber bifolds have an unbeatable aesthetic appeal, the aluminum models are popular for their utility. Furthermore, you can select from a wide range of color and size options as per your requirements and budget.
How Does A Bifold Door Work?
Both the interior and exterior types operate on a built-in tracking system that runs along the glass panels, connected on a train. So, basically, the doors fold in and then smoothly slide over the laid out track, supported by a chain of wheels or a tracking system. Regardless of the medium of movement, the function is carried out smoothly and quietly.
That said, bifold structures, especially the interior models, typically come in pairs. It can be either two doors that fold to one side or four individual panels that open from the center, with a couple of doors folding on each side. Generally, these units come installed with the tracking and other necessary fittings and open either inwards or outwards.
Besides, the versatility and flexibility of these units make them quite popular among homeowners looking to save space. You’d be surprised to know that some elaborate structures even feature up to 7 panels, all connected via hinges and linked to the roller track on the top or bottom.
While the lower limit for the number of panels is two, the upper limit largely depends on your space, application, and budget. They enable seamless operability, allowing you to slide and fold comfortably. However, you must be careful not to apply a lot of pressure as it can dislodge the door from the tracking system.
Choosing The Best Door Material
Now that you have a fair idea about how these structures work, it’s essential to pick the right material for your door. Long story short, it’s the material and overall build quality that will determine the unit’s performance and visual appeal.
Furthermore, you’d want a durable door structure that upholds the practicality and convenience of the bifold design. Therefore, it’s essential to do a little bit of research, so you can weigh in on the pros and cons of each option.
Naturally, the cost, installation, maintenance, and functionality varies with different materials. Ultimately, you must find something that more or less checks all boxes in your list of priorities. The following are the different bifold doors – categorized by material type.
Aluminum models are touted for their versatility, strength, and lightweight design. So, if you’re looking to add a contemporary touch to your home, we recommend installing a sleek, aluminum bifold door.
The slender frame perfectly syncs with the existing decor and is a cinch to clean and maintain. Furthermore, these doors are reinforced with a powder-coated finish for lifetime use. Thus, durability will be the least of your concerns.
Plus, unlike timber units, aluminum panels can have a broader structure (meaning fewer doors inside the frame). Also, you can choose from a diverse selection of RAL colors to amp up your decor game.
Wood bifolds have a distinctive charm that’s reminiscent of a traditional style. So, if you want to recreate that old world appeal, we suggest investing in a wood frame. These units come in a variety of finishes, and you can get something that further accentuates the overall look.
Classic and ornate, these doors cost considerably more than any other option. However, we recommend engineered timber for higher structural integrity and stability.
While softwood models are cheaper than hardwood ones, there’s no point skimping on quality just to save a few dollars. More often than not, these low-cost units warp when exposed to heat and moisture.
Therefore, you’ll have a hard time operating the door as they eventually get stuck. Plus, it’s not worth the hassle as these softwood units need to be painted or varnished from time to time to maintain its integrity and appearance.
If you’re torn between aluminum and wood; and prefer something in the middle, then composite is the way to go.
These doors typically feature an aluminum frame with a timber lining on the inside, offering the best of both worlds. Furthermore, it’s cheap and low maintenance, so you can basically install and forget. The only drawback though, is that you don’t have the option of slim sightlines. Also, you won’t get the same quality of finish as with aluminum or timber.
Advantages Of A Bifold Door
Both external and internal models ensure high flexibility and can be personalized to meet almost all requirements. That said, bifold doors are perfectly suitable for connecting living rooms, dining space, kitchens, and more. They allow you to make a bold statement and enhance the look and feel of your home.
Besides the build material, you can also customize the style, shape, texture, color, and finish of the unit. However, you cannot randomly select any of these parameters, since they all contribute to the door’s overall functionality and appearance.
Nevertheless, these structures have their own set of advantages that give them an extra edge over conventional doors.
External Bifold Advantages
The most obvious advantage of installing an external folding door is the uninterrupted view of the outdoor landscape. You can enjoy the natural light from your indoors when you want to relax and unwind on the weekends.
Also, if you have a well-manicured garden or a pool that you want to show off, you can do so from inside your home. Furthermore, a well-made bifolding door creates an illusion of space by seamlessly merging the two locations on either side of the unit.
Plus, you have the added benefit of security as these external models include a locking system that works across multiple points on the sliding track.
Internal Bifold Advantages
Undoubtedly, bifold doors are the ideal option for indoor access points as they take up minimum space and yet look quite fancy. So, if you want to install a gateway in your laundry room or pantry, we suggest getting an indoor option.
While French doors and sliding doors occupy a lot of room and may occasionally inconvenience users, these models fold back on themselves and ensure smooth operation throughout.
For instance, if you have a bifold sliding door for your wardrobe, you can access the entire space at once since it opens at both sides. Furthermore, they are easy to install, so you can even go down the DIY route if you have some experience with advanced carpentry.
Which Operating System To Choose For Your Doors?
Bifold doors also differ from conventional options in terms of operability. When it comes to these models, you’re most likely to come across descriptions like ‘top-hung’ and ‘bottom-rolling’. These labels indicate the manner in which the weight of the structure is supported.
Furthermore, these doors require specially designed systems as they depend on high capacity hardware to provide uninterrupted performance. As a rule of thumb, always use wheels that run in flat tracks as they allow smoother operation compared to grooved casters on raised tracks.
Top Hung Operating System
- Perfectly conceals most of the operating mechanisms within the frame head
- Dirt, grime, and leaves are less likely to accumulate in the top track
- Requires a high strength beam or lintel above the opening to support the doors’ weight
Bottom Rolling Operating System
- Does not weigh down the top of the frame
- Way easier to install
- Door motion is impeded when dirt and leaves get lodged in the bottom track
Bifold Doors And Security
This is primarily a concern for external bifold units, especially among homeowners who are not familiar with the concept. As mentioned earlier, they are incredibly secure and, on some occasions, even more than other exterior structures. However, you must ensure that the right measures are taken to enforce safety.
First off, you’d want your set of doors to have a reliable locking system with multiple checkpoints instead of just one. Additionally, you can take some extra steps to strengthen the glass panel and the frame, so it can hold up against any breach attempt.
However, if security is a major concern, you should opt for reinforced glass for maximum safety of your home and family members. Lastly, you could always install an advanced alarm system that’ll alert you much ahead of a breach. This option will obviously cost you more, but it’s worth it for complete peace of mind.
Will Bifold Doors Let In Cold?
We understand the gravity of this question and want to answer in all earnest. Basically, whether a bifold structure will let in or keep out cold largely depends on the door’s build quality.
That said, ideally, a well-made, premium quality door never gets too cold quickly. But if it helps, you can keep your external unit open all day to keep your home breezy and pleasant during the summers. This will also help you decrease the power bill as you can reduce your AC use.
Other than that, your doors’ insulation and thermal efficiency also depend on the type of glass you choose. For the best results, we recommend using energy-efficient glass panels (with an optimum R-value of 4.0), or a specially designed lining that helps maintain the internal temperature.
However, you need not go the extra mile as these structures are built to completely seal your house from the outdoor environment and are as effective as any other door. Plus, you have the liberty to let in the sun and to keep your indoors warm and sunny. At night, you can use heavy curtains or blinds to keep the heat trapped inside.
Furthermore, the insulation property of the door also varies from one material to another. In this case, timber is the top pick as it can naturally maximize thermal efficiency, while aluminium bifold doors have thermal breaks that limit heat transfer.
Installation Of Bifold Doors – Hire An Expert vs. DIY
Installation of bifold doors is a relatively easy project and something that’ll greatly interest DIY enthusiasts. If you have had some experience with door and window installation, you would undoubtedly enjoy upskilling while working with intricate operating mechanisms.
At the same time, don’t be deluded into thinking that you can just wing it, as each component must be put in place for hassle-free operation. That said, internal concertina doors are easier to put together than their external counterparts, simply because there is less to deal with in terms of hardware.
So, you can try your hand with this less complicated indoor project. However, for external bifolds, we strongly recommend hiring an expert. After all, you do not want to take a wrong turn while handling your brand new door.
Bifold Doors – A Blissful Portal
That’s all from us!
Here’s hoping that we have provided you with enough insight into the making and functioning of bifold doors. So, feel free to use these structures anywhere inside and outside your home to enhance the aesthetics.
However, make sure to calculate your costs, which should cover everything, including material, making charges, installation (insulation lining and alarm), etc., before getting started with the project. Also, be sure about the size of the door as you don’t want your unit to be too large or smaller than expected.
On that note, we’d like to take your leave. So, just go ahead and take the plunge and get yourself a magnificent set of doors.
Till next time!