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Looking at the many features in magazines and on the many property programmes over the last few years, it’s becoming a challenge to find a self-build or extension project without a set of aluminium bifold doors drawn into the initial plans to maximise light and space in a build. With the engineering improvements made over the last decade in thermal ratings and overall design they have become the ‘must have’ item on the agenda when planning a building project.
Whereas with some products price can be the main driver in your decision making, a bifold door has many aspects that should be considered before making a choice.
The massive popularity of bifolds in recent years and particularly aluminium bifolds has led to the marketplace being flooded with cheaper products, new companies springing up with no credentials and a general “jumping on the band-wagon” effect. It is important therefore to look closely at a company’s history, warranties and the general quality of the products.
Ask about adjustment; aluminium expands and contracts with climatic change, so can the system cope with this movement? Never buy a bifold without seeing it first; in a magazine or on the internet it’s very easy to portray an image where they all look very similar so there’s no substitution for seeing and operating the product for yourself and meeting the people from the company you’re considering buying from.
Clever marketing and good photography can easily make a product look better than it really is, so don’t be fooled!
Aluminium usually has a thinner frame section than other materials which creates a more contemporary feel, ask about the sight lines when comparing systems; the cheaper systems usually have a much thicker profile. You don’t want to end up with an expanse of glass punctuated by wider sight lines than necessary.
Most aluminium systems are bottom rolling, this means the weight is on steel or nylon rollers on a track at the bottom of the frame, aluminium profiles are hollow and therefore light which makes the bottom rolling mechanism more suitable, steel rollers will always be more robust.
Most well engineered systems can have door panels up to 1200mm wide, which means nice large panels with more glass and less framework giving an overall more aesthetically pleasing design.
Insulating values are also very important when you have a large expanse of glass, building regulations state that you need to achieve 2.0 W/m2K or less on a new build property for a set of doors.
The higher end aluminium bifolding doors should be able to achieve insulation values as low as 1.2 W/m2K with a good quality triple glazed unit installed. Always ask the company you are considering buying from for the full details of the glazing U values as they can vary considerably and this will affect the insulating performance of your house.
Obviously price is very important with every project and you don’t want to spend too much, but more often than not you really do get what you pay for with this type of product, so spending too little could be even worse.
As a guideline, for a standard height door (2.1m) you should expect to pay around £1200 per linear metre of overall frame width for a good quality, well engineered system with a good spec of glass and ironmongery.
Whilst this may seem expensive to you initially, in the long run you want to have folding sliding doors with the ‘wow’ factor that operate smoothly and perform efficiently and live up to your expectations as long as possible.
You will probably only buy a folding sliding door once for your property so it’s worth taking the time to ensure you make the right choice.
Aluminium bifolds are a truly amazing, versatile and low maintenance product that should be a consideration on any new build, extension or refurbishment project. Whether it’s an ultra modern eco-build, Georgian town house or country cottage a bifold is always suitable, allowing you to make the very most of your home and genuinely improving your lifestyle.