Kevin McCloud recently tweeted that if Grand Designs has had a lasting legacy, it is the bi-folding door. Rolling back to open the inside of your property to the garden beyond, they deliver the promise of summer barbecues and parties with friends and family.
But are bi-folding and folding sliding doors always the right option and if not, what are your other choices? We’ll explore the pros and cons of bi-folding doors in this article, also considering the other options that you might wish to consider.
Should I choose bi-folding doors?
Bi-folding doors are marketed with a lifestyle attached. It’s all about summer style and easy living and bi-folding, concertina and folding sliding doors, deliver it. The selling point is that they can be folded neatly back on one another to open up the whole aspect of the room to your garden or patio beyond, creating an increased sense of space inside and providing the perfect connection between it and outside spaces beyond.
There are, however, a couple of things to consider. The first is the Great British weather. However optimistic you might want to be, the reality is that our climate is often overcast, damp or wet – and that includes summer. That means that bi-fold doors come with a catch – for much of the year you end up looking at the uprights of each individual door leaf.
Another thing to think about is space. While bi-folding doors stack neatly together, they do still take up space. In general, this means that its preferential to design them so that they open out i.e. the space lost is outside the room, not within it. But that still means that you’ll lose space on your decking or patio.
It’s also important to consider which way your doors will open, to the left or right, and how you intend to use the outdoor space.
Bi-fold doors will come with a ‘traffic door’ which can be opened without to provide access without needing to open it up in full. Looking out into your garden which side do you want this to be? It’s important as it will define the direction that your door has to open. This is because it’s also the first door to fold back on itself as you open you bi-folding door in full.
Do you have enough space and is it practical space at the opposite end to accommodate the stacking doors or will you have to ‘clamber around them’ to put the rubbish out?
Inline sliding patio doors – perfect if you need to save space
If we take Grand Designs as a barometer for the direction of travel in door design, there are definite signs of a shift in popularity back towards patio doors. The difference being that they’re often larger, with a greater expanse of glass.
It’s important to put any preconceptions about inline sliding doors out of your mind. Old early generation PVC-U inline sliding doors were ‘chunky’, they often weren’t secure. If you can believe it many early designs could simply be lifted out of their tracks from the outside to gain entry.
Today that’s completely changed. High security PVC-U patio doors are not only secure and energy efficient, but come in a wide range of different finishes and larger glass sizes. So what are the reasons for choosing patio doors over bi-fold doors?
Let’s start with practicalities. They give you more glass and less frame, which means that you don’t spend most of your year admiring your garden through bi-fold uprights. And the other thing is that they save space.
PVC-U inline sliding patio doors sideways on a single track. This simple backward and forward mechanism means that you don’t lose space inside or outside of your home. You also get more flexibility in design as you can choose whichever side works best as a traffic door without having to worry about how the doors stack.
You also don’t need to worry about security. New generation inline sliding patio doors come with your peace of mind built in as standard. And if you’re still not convinced, T&K even offer an ultra-secure police approved Secured by Design patio door option.
Patio doors from T&K
- Secured-by-Design option
- Patio Interlock bolts – two bolts located at the top and bottom of the door lock the sliding panel to the fixed frame. This means that the doors can’t be forced apart.
- Security head rail – a full width rail running across the top of the opening panel builds on performance in the standard specification to stop the door being lifted off and out of its track.
- Full height security keep rail – supports and strengthens the sliding sash at the corners
- PAS24 handle – high security handle with a thicker and stronger back plate fully tested to withstand three minutes of manual attack
- Anti-bump cylinder – Prevents entry through disabling of locking mechanism.
- Choice of 19 finishes
- Slim stepped 86mm outer frame that reduces plaster cutback and enhances visual appearance.
- Secure internal sliding panels in two, three and four pane options.
- Wide range of accessories, including handles in white, black, chrome or Gold, plus anodised gold and silver option.
- Optional low track, low threshold system.
- Low-line gaskets extruded to sash.
- Three chamber sash for maximum thermal efficiency and strength.
- Multi-point locking system for outstanding security on all standard specifications.
- Concealed fixings (no ugly screw heads).
Wide choice of finishes
The other thing to mention is the wide range of different colour finishes that new PVC-U patio doors can be supplied in. White remains popular but T&K can also offer a wide range of different woodgrain and colour finish options.
This means that you can chooses a standard door or go with a heritage colour or contemporary anthracite grey patio door.
Not forgetting French doors
French doors are the traditional way of connecting inside and outside spaces. And like our patio doors, they’re available in a wide choice of finishes. The downside is that you’re limited on size.
Nonetheless, they provide a great way to access your garden and are ideally suited where the aim is to match into an older or more traditional property.
The wide range of French doors, patio doors and bi-folding doors available today give you the flexibility to make the right choice for not only your home but how you live in it. Bi-folding doors offer the ultimate connection between your home and garden but you need to think about their design and how it fits in with your home and outside space carefully.
Patio doors are a less complex proposition. They will provide a year-round connection between inside and outside spaces and with the right design, can deliver an architectural aesthetic to match any bi-fold. What you don’t get is the full opening of the aspect. Let’s hope for a good summer!
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