Bi-fold doors make a great addition to a property. Also known as folding doors, they can fold in or out to open up a space and are a known way to add value to a home. They can be installed within the home, creating a seamless and stylish connection between rooms, but are also ideal as exterior doors leading into the garden.
In fact, bi-fold French doors look stunning at the back of a property as they let in masses of light and can be completely pushed to one side, effortlessly connecting your interior and exterior spaces during those long summer days.
They are designed to come in pairs, with two doors folding to one side or with four doors that split in the centre and have two doors folding back to each side. However, they can also be manufactured with an even or odd number of doors, sometimes referred to as multi-fold doors.
The beauty of bi-folds lies in their ability to be fully opened, partially opened or totally closed; depending on the amount of space required. This means they can be custom designed to meet individual tastes and specifications.
There’s a big variety of styles available, so you can choose one that matches your existing interior or exterior look – everything from traditional period properties to modern builds. But once you’ve decided on bi-fold doors, how do you decide which material to choose? Here are the main materials and the pros and cons of each one, to help you do just that.
Top of the list of reasons to choose natural wood is its appearance; timber looks beautiful and can be finished in an extensive array of stains and colours.
Not only that, it’s also very practical. The wood used for quality bi-folds tends to be made from “engineered timber”. This means a range of different types of wood have been glued together in layers with polyurethane.
The product of this process is a material that’s less likely to be affected by weathering and general outdoor damage, making it ideal for exterior bi-folds. The polyurethane protects the wood from moisture too which makes it more resilient against the common problem of twisting and swelling due to the climate.
Engineered timber is more expensive but far less prone to common timber-related problems compared to its untreated alternative. Fixing non-engineered bi-fold doors will likely bring about more costly issues that must be tended to.
The biggest drawback when using timber is the higher levels of maintenance required, especially if they’ll be somewhere that receives long periods of intense sunlight. Many buyers see it as a worthy investment though.
The biggest advantage for aluminium is its strength. For bi-fold doors, this means even narrow frames are strong enough to support the structure – resulting in very slim sight lines. This leaves maximum window space with very little structural impairment so you can enjoy brilliantly spacious views into your garden or the next room, with high levels of sunlight.
Aluminium is also more resistant to flexing compared to other materials, and is less likely to expand or contract in direct sunlight. Again, very little maintenance is needed.
However there are some drawbacks. Colours are limited to black and white or metallics, although these are stylish and versatile finishes that suit a variety of projects. The easy maintenance of aluminium bi-fold doors means that they can be a good value option in the long term but many prefer the classic design approach of timber.
Bi-fold door design doesn’t end with your material choice – you’ll need to add complementing bi-fold door parts and these come in a number of styles and materials too.
If you’ve opted for classic timber for a period property, for example, you may want to further the look with traditional style handles in a brass finish.
Or perhaps you’ve decided to channel contemporary cool in which case your sleek aluminium bi-folds can be topped off perfectly with a modern, minimalist handle with a shiny brushed satin chrome finish.
It’s also vital to protect your home with reliable and secure locking systems. It’s possible to find locks that provide access from both inside and out, which is especially useful for configurations with no swing panel/access doors incorporated into the arrangement.
Eva Hines is a blogger who frequently writes on diverse niches like home décor, fashion, and design. You can connect with her on Twitter – @evaphines