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Bifold Doors: Your Complete Buying Guide

bifold doors
(Image credit: Thames Valley Window Company)

Bifold doors have become something of a must-have feature in homes these days  — and it’s easy to see why.

Bifold doors are a brilliant way to bring extra natural light in a house, whilst also creating both a visual and physical link to the outdoor spaces. 

And the benefits of bifolds don't stop there either — they can increase the sense of space and effectively create a whole new 'outdoor room' in the sunnier months. 

Increasing the amount of natural light we are exposed to on a daily basis has been proven to have a positive effect on wellbeing — something we all very much need at present.

The ever-increasing popularity of bifold doors means that there is a huge range of materials, sizes and styles on offer which can make difficult to know which model is right for your home. So, how do you choose?

Arming yourself with knowledge and investigating which option offers the best in terms of operating systems, material and aesthetics will help you pick the best for your budget.

(MORE: Get a quote for your bifold doors)

bifold doors

Bifolds such as these aluminium doors from Kloeber allow natural light to flow into internal spaces and create seamless transitions between outside and in. (Image credit: Kloeber)

How Much do Bifold Doors Cost?

Bifold door costs vary hugely, based on factors such as their size, material and quality.

As a rough guide, be prepared to pay around £1,200 per linear metre of overall frame width (for a good-quality system with a good spec of glass and ironmongery).

Don't forget to budget for VAT and installation costs and, in some cases, delivery.

Some companies will ask you to put down a deposit when ordering, with the full amount payable on installation or delivery.

Off-the-shelf doors have short lead-in times, whilst high-quality bespoke sets can take up to eight weeks from order confirmation to delivery or installation.

Editor's Note: If you're looking for a quote for your bifold doors, simply tell us a bit about your project in the questionnaire below and we’ll match your requirements with the services and prices that our partners offer. And don't worry, only partners that match your needs will reach out to you.

Which is the Best Material for Bifold Doors?

The material you choose for your bifold doors will determine not only the way they look, but also how they perform and how much they cost. Let's take a look at how much maintenance each materials requires, how the installation might differs and, of course, what they cost.  

Aim to get at last three quotes for your bifold doors and compare quality of the material (especially with aluminium or timber) and ease of installation, as well as how the lead-in times will fit into your project’s schedule. Asking trusted sources for recommendations is also a great idea.

bifold doors self-build

Bifold doors are capable of opening up large openings completely — in a way that is not possible with sliding doors (Image credit: Kloeber)

Aluminium bifold doors are versatile because of their strong but lightweight composition and are a great choice for more contemporary-style homes as they can come in a very slim frame. 

Benefits include:

  • Slimmer sightlines
  • Easy to maintain
  • A lifetime-lasting powder-coated finish
  • Can be made wider than timber doors (meaning fewer doors are required within the frame)
  • Finish options for frames include an array of RAL colours

bifold doors

Aluminium bifold doors come in a huge range of RAL colours — meaning they will suit all homes. These aluminium doors are from Kloeber (Image credit: Kloeber)

Engineered timber bifold doors are a beautiful and classic option for those creating a traditional-style home or looking to install in a period property. Engineered timber is better than solid timber as it has more dimensional stability.

Softwood doors products are cheaper than hardwood, but some lower-end models can still be prone to warping over time when exposed to heat and moisture, meaning they will stick in their frames or won’t close.

They will require regular painting or varnishing to maintain their appearance.

bifold doors

Engineered timber bifold doors are the ideal choice for those renovating or building a traditional or period property. In this Border Oak house, bifolds have been combined with French doors.  (Image credit: Border Oak)

If you really can’t decide between the practically of aluminium and charm of timber bifolds, opt for composite bifold doors. These usually consist of an aluminium frame with a timber internal facing, offering the best of both worlds.

Always thought of as the cheap and cheerful option of windows and doors, PVCu (also written as uPVC) are low maintenance but don’t come with the slim sightlines and quality of finish as timber or aluminium.

What Sizes do Bifold Doors Come in?

When deciding on the size of your new bifold doors,  you need to first calculate the aperture they will be fitted into and the tracks. If you’re getting someone to install the doors for you, they might come out and measure. Some people do choose to fit them on a DIY basis but this is really only a job for the skilled DIYers out there.  

Panel weight is affected by the size and type of glazing used and hardware systems have maximum individual panel weight, width and height restrictions.

  • The minimum size of aluminium panels is advised to be a three panel set with a width of 600mm per panel but typically the panel widths would range from 800mm to 1200mm so 2400mm is a more accurate reflection of the smallest size opening for bifold doors to be installed
  • Standard aluminium panels standard can be double or triple glazed 1,000 x 2,800mm
  • Specialist wooden doors can go up to 4,000 x 1,100mm and hold up to 16 panels in one frame depending on manufacture and tolerance.

Bifold doors in kitchen extension

This kitchen extension opens out fully to a patio dining space thanks to the swathe of bifold doors. (Image credit: Brayer Design)

The current trend towards wide run of glazed panels lets in the most light, as well as providing uninterrupted views outside. So to avoid heavy looking profiles that restrict light, reduce the size of the panes and the views, opt for slimline frames. There are many options out there with sightlines as slim as 115mm for aluminium frames.

Which Bifold Door Operating System is Best?  

Two key terms you will come across when researching bifold doors are ‘top-hung’ and ‘bottom-rolling’; both refer to the way the weight of the doors are supported.

Look for systems that are specifically designed for bifold doors as they require hardware systems with a greater capability than sliding or hinged doors. Wheels that run in flat tracks give smooth operation when compared to grooved wheels on a raised track.

Pros:

  • Can conceal the bulk of the operating mechanisms in the frame head
  • Dirt and leaves are less likely to become lodged in the top track

Cons:

  • They require a sufficiently strong lintel or beam above the opening to take the weight of the doors

Bifold doors in kitchen provide views to the garden

Here, picture windows have been combined with bifolding doors to bring in maximum natural light. (Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Bottom rolling

Pros:

  • Don’t pull down as much weight from the top of the frame
  • Easier to install

Cons:

  • Door motion can be affected by dirt and leaves getting stuck in the bottom track

Bifold Door Configurations

Once you know the width of the opening, investigate widths of panes available. This will then determine the sort of configuration you can go with. suppliers will offer their advice and can talk through the different configurations with you.

Keep to an odd number of panels so they can stack and create a complete opening. With bifold doors, a 'master door' is a good idea to gain easy access without having to open up the entire door system.

The simplest and most obvious way of screening bifolds is to install full-length curtains, but this does not mean it is necessarily the best option. They prove unpopular as they block light coming through the glazing even when the curtains are open, distracting from the sleek look offered by bifolds.

Another option is to house vertical blinds in a unit on the wall or build them into the ceiling but can hinder access from inside to out.

Some glazed units come with built-in venetian blinds which sadly partially obscure the glass but others offer screens and shades that move horizontally and can be drawn from the door jamb when needed, moved aside for access and retracted when not in use. 

Blackout blinds on bifold doors

These blackout blinds from DotcomBlinds offer privacy and complete darkness once the sun goes down.  (Image credit: DotCom Blind)

Internal Bifold Doors

Open plan spaces are all the range in modern renovation, conversion and self-build projects, but in recent years homeowners are becoming more design savvy when creating spaces designed specially for their lifestyles.

Including internal bifolding doors is an ideal way to lean into the open plan aesthetic without disputing a home too much. They offer a flexibility of being able to simple fold away the partition when guests are visiting, or parents want to keep an eye on the kids while cooking dinner, while also allowing rooms to be shut away when privacy or a sense of cosiness is desired.

Choosing options with a glazed panel takes this idea one step further, in that natural light can still flood the spaces, while the practical functionality if internal doors is observed.

(MOREInternal Doors: How to Choose)

bifold doors

The perfect way to divide up open plan spaces and ideal for playrooms or home offices, these internal bifolds are from Kloeber (Image credit: Kloeber)

Is Planning Permission Required for Bifold Doors?

Planning permission isn’t needed when installing bifold doors in most houses, but where the house is listed or in a conservation area, is best to check with your Local Planning Authority before you make any decisions.

(MOREPatio Doors)

How to Construct a Level Threshold

One of the biggest attractions to bifold doors is their ability to create a seamless transition between interior and exterior spaces so creating a threshold you don’t notice is key. Choosing a low threshold is naturally a great choice for a flush finish, but it is imperative to consider rain penetration, particularly on exposed south- and west-facing walls.

The answer is a correctly installed rebated, weather-tested threshold.

Aluminium bifold doors and casement window from IQ Glass used in extension

This kitchen side-return extension features bifold doors from IQ Glass, opening it out to the terrace beyond and flooring the new space with light (Image credit: IQ Glass)

How Do Bifold Doors Work?

Made of multiple leaves or panels, bifolding (or folding sliding doors) open by folding against each other like a concertina. The tracking system to which the panels are fixed allows smooth motion and ease of use. They let in beautiful natural light and increase views to the garden so are included in the majority of self build and renovation projects.

Do Bifold Doors Open From Both Sides?

In short, yes. The master door/traffic door allows for entry and exit just as a single-leaf door does.

bifold doors in kitchen diner extension

Bifold doors can increase the sense of space in a room — as the bifolds from Thames Valley Window Company demonstrate. (Image credit: Thames Valley Window Company)

Which Glazing is Best for Bifold Doors?

Although increased glazing holds a reputation for heat escaping, modern developments in the past couple of decades means homeowners shouldn’t fear cold spots created by windows as they once did. Look for products with low U values for extra assurance or even research triple glazing which in recent years has become more mainstream and readily available.

(MOREWindow Styles: How to Make the Right Choice)