GLAZING FEATURES – BIFOLDING VS SLIDING DOORS

Portfolio Description

 

When designing a rear facing extension or new build home, we’ve found 9/10 clients are looking to introduce either a set bifolding or sliding doors. Which is no surprise considering both of these products allow you to open up your home to the outside world and create indoor/outdoor flow within summer months. In this blog we are going to compare bifolding doors vs sliding doors.

Additionally, they also allow for copious amounts of natural daylight to enter your home, while being predominantly shut during the colder winter months. The question on most client’s lips is “which is better?” and that question is completely dependent on a number of things. What you should ask yourself is what’s best for you? Below we compare the two mechanisms on several important factors, whilst also considering different materials for both door options, this to help you answer this question for yourself.

Price

For a lot of people budget is the driving factor when considering “what’s best for you?”. Generally, the two sets of doors are very similar priced with bifolding doors being the slightly more expensive of the two. This is due to the complicated mechanisms required to “bifold” the doors.

There’s a number of factors that can fluctuate the price, such as:

Size:
The first and most dramatic, albeit obvious, is the size of the doors – the price correlates with the size of the opening, this is due to the increase in material but also the additional labour cost of installing a larger system.
Something that should be noted is that sliding doors tend to overtake bifolding door in price when your looking at large openings, this is due to the price of producing large single units of glass, with this in mind a large opening set of sliding doors with a minimal number of panes could be significantly more expensive than its bifolding counterpart.

Material:
Choice of material also plays a large part in the price of each set of doors, for example, a standard set of 4meter aluminium bi-folding doors could be close to double that of the Upvc equivalent, with timber prices varying from both ends of the market. We’ll touch on durability later, but it’s worth noting that if your spending double the amount on a product, but it lasts twice as long as its competitor, is it really more expensive?
With Upvc being the cheapest and good quality timber being most expensive, we find most client’s lean towards the middle ground in aluminium.

bifolding doors

Durability:

A lot can be said for price, but how long a product lasts and works efficiently for is also a major factor in what product is right for you. Generally Sliding doors tend to be the more durable of the two, this is down to the simplicity of a sliding door, i.e “less moving parts” in comparison to the bifolding door. In addition to this it’s recommended that bifolding doors be regularly cleaned, oiled and serviced by a professional. Whereas for sliding doors maintenance is a lot simpler (but still essential) you must ensure regular cleaning of the tracks and frequent lubricant for ease of use.
Once again, material is an important factor in this decision. Generally, for both sets of doors Aluminium comes out on top in terms of durability and usually you can expect a 5-20 year guarantee from a door supplier with aluminium. With aluminium being the strongest of the three available materials it tends to be a lot less susceptible to warping. Timber although the most expensive, can be susceptible to water leaks and must be regularly maintained and treated.

Aesthetics:

Between the two styles of doors both have merit, and offer different visual aesthetics appeals, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference – Which do you prefer the look of? One of the main things to consider in this regard, is the frame thickness and frame to glass ratio. Generally sliding doors tend to require thicker frames in order to harbour larger panes of glass, whilst simultaneously offering a better glass to frame ratio, however bifolding doors tend to be smaller door sizes, thus introducing more frame. Whilst aluminium frames can appear bulky (due to the large glass pane sizes), we’ve often seen aluminium “bulky” frames which also look modern and stylish – again it comes down to personal preference.
With regards to materials, aluminium offers a wider range of colours and much thinner frames in comparison to both upvc and timber frames, and is a lot less susceptible to discolouration and weather damage. Although practical, modern and stylish, aluminium doors may not be befitting of the back of a traditional property for instance, this is where it’s extremely important to discuss the options with your designer, that suit your property and desired look. Aluminium frames can offer mock timber finishes which can be impressive alternatives, but nothing beats the look and feel of real timber.
The decision of choosing the correct frame size for your project, really does come down to costs. Many sliding door manufacturers have realised that certain client’s really want to push the boundaries with regards to frames sizes, and reduce these as much as possible to avoid any distraction from the aesthetics of a ‘clear open view’ design. Therefore, it is possible to reduce frame sizes down to a mere 42mm (max height of door 3 meters) by using various manufacturers ‘slimline’ systems, however as you would expect, there is a premium cost for such systems.

bifolding doors

Usability:

As mentioned previously, large bi-folding/sliding doors can open your home up to the outside world and let copious amounts of light into your property. when closed. Bifolding doors offer a unique advantage in this respect, by folding into themselves, a large majority of the door opening can be revealed, this cannot be said for sliding doors. For example, a three paned sliding door must slide into one door which leaves 1/3 of the opening unopened, that being said, sliding doors offer more natural light when closed as they offer more glass and less frame. Sliders can also offer more flexibility in opening. i.e open left to right, right to left or left and right to the middle, bi-folds are generally unidirectional.

Hybrids to consider.

So, if only there was away to combine the two? A relatively new popular door style called “wave doors” or “slide and stack” is looking to fill this gap in the market. the two. Offering the “stack” feature of a bifolding door, but each door is independent allowing for greater customisation in openings like the sliding door. Also, some stack products allow the look and appeal of big paned sliding doors that stack like bifolds.

Decision?

So, if you’re looking at bifolding and sliding doors think simplicity vs complexity, frame thickness v’s glass and modern vs traditional aesthetics, but the decision is up to you. If we were to push you in any direction, all we can say is avoid clunky Upvc units.

Ways to keep the cost down:

Good, careful design:
Ensure that your designer works to standard masonry opening sizes, this will ensure that your door should be readily available and reduce lead in time, and also slightly reduce costs. Standard sizes = standardised costs, non-standard size = increased costs.

Shop around:
There are so many manufacturers competing in a crowded market. Whilst it’s a useful exercise to compare costs on-line, we feel it’s important that you actually go and see the product in the flesh, this may be at a manufacturers showroom or a live job that a manufacturer has pointed you in the direction of. This will give you the opportunity to see what frame thicknesses suit your project and to discuss variances in cost.
In addition, by spending the time to get to know a manufacture, it gives you that personal touch, in the event that something should go working with your doors, it means there is that initial connection present, and makes things a little easier should they need to be repaired or even replaced.

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