In the UK, bifold doors are ideal to flood interior spaces with natural light; they open up the home into the great outdoors and create striking indoor/outdoor spaces.

However, bifolds can be quite an investment and it can be fairly daunting trying to find which system is right for your house with so many retailers and manufacturers embracing this move towards maximised glazing.

There are huge swathes of choices in materials, sizes, screening additions and operating systems, not to mention variations in cost, sizing and colour so knowing which option offers best value for money and which design will suit your home – in both practical and visual terms – can feel like a bit of a gamble.

Take a look at our UK suppliers of bifold doors and find the right design for your project

Bifold Door Materials

Timber Bifolds

A beautiful and classic option for those creating a traditional-style home or looking to install in a period property, timber doors come in various finishes. Engineered timbers are ideal as they have more dimensional stability than solid timber doors.

Although softwood engineered products are available, which are cheaper than hardwood, some of the 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.

kleober-aluminium-kustomfold

These Kloeber aluminium Kustomfold bifold doors complete the sleek and modern finish to this contemporary home

Aluminium Bifolds

Aluminium frames are a great choice for more contemporary-style homes as they can come in a very slim frame and an amazing range of finishes.

Benefits include:

  • slimmer sightlines
  • a lifetime-lasting powder-coated finish
  • can be made wider than timber doors (meaning fewer doors are required within the frame)
extension with bifold doors uk

An important part of the design brief for this kitchen extension – built for just £80K – was to open the house to the garden. “Having so much glass really makes you feel connected to the greenery outside,” says Sue, the homeowner.

How Much do Bifold Doors Cost?

As with all window and door products, this varies hugely on size, material and quality.

Expect 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).

You will also need to factor in VAT and installation costs to the total price, and possibly delivery.

Some companies will ask for a deposit on ordering, with the full amount payable on installation or delivery. 

centor moollooaba corner doors and bi-fold doors

Centor’s Moolooaba corner doors and bifold doors are great for creating an indoor/outdoor space

Sizes of Bifolding Doors

When designing how large you want your bifolds to be, you need to work out the size of the aperture and the tracks. If you’re getting someone to install the doors for you, they might come out and measure but a DIY enthusiast can normally fit them quite easily.

“Hardware systems have maximum individual panel weight, width and height restrictions,” says Peter Watkins of Centor. “Panel weight is affected by the size and type of glazing used. Standard aluminium panels can be double or triple glazed, 1,000mm wide and 2,800mm high, while wooden doors can go higher, with specialist systems up to 4,000mm high and 1,100mm wide. You can have up to 16 panels in one frame depending on the accuracy of manufacture and tolerance.”

For Kloeber’s bifold doors, for example, which are available in both aluminium and timber, panel widths can be up to 900mm for timber and 1,200mm for aluminium, with a maximum number of 12 panels overall.

bifold doors loft exterior

The bifold doors of this loft extension flood the space with natural light

Getting the Threshold Right

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.

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Bifolds are usually specified for their ability to merge inside and out (as in this instance from Origin) — but make sure the threshold is as level as possible

What is the Best Method for Screening Bifold Doors?

Full-length curtains are the simplest solution but this can prove unpopular as it blocks light coming through the glazing even when the curtains are open and distracts from the sleek look offered by bifolds.

“It is possible to buy glazed units with built-in venetian blinds, which give a satisfactory solution but partially obscure the glass. Vertical blinds are either housed in a unit on the wall or built into the ceiling, but hinder access from inside to out,” explains Centor’s Peter Watkins.

“Built-in screens and shades that move horizontally (as with Centor’s integrated doors) provide a good solution. Insect screens offer protection when the doors are open, and their shades provide protection from harsh sunlight and offer privacy when the doors are closed. The screens and shades are drawn from the door jamb when needed, move aside for access, and retract when not in use.”

Choosing Operating Systems

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.

There are pros and cons to both, and advice varies depending on manufacturer but bear in mind that top-hung doors conceal the bulk of the operating mechanisms in the frame head. Plus, dirt and leave are less likely to become lodged in the top track, unlike the bottom crack where is can affect the running operation. However, on the downside top-running systems do require a sufficiently strong lintel or beam above the opening to take the weight of the door(s).

By using bifold doors with a low threshold, this coach house conversion has an increased connection with the great outdoors

“Bifold doors require hardware systems with a greater capability than sliding or hinged doors because of the moving forces and loads that occur during door movement,” says Peter Watkins of Centor. “Look for systems specifically designed for bifold doors, with wheels that run in flat tracks. These give smooth operation when compared to grooved wheels on a raised track.

“Horizontal and vertical adjustment is important as any inaccuracies in either manufacturing or frame installation will be amplified on larger doorsets. Systems hinged directly onto the door jamb have restricted adjustment, so the most adaptable systems have pivoted end doors.”

(More: Patio Doors: Bifold, Sliding or French?)

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Many thanks to Origin for working with us on the video above.

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