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How to choose your bi-fold doors

With so many variations to bi-fold doors, it's sometimes difficult to make the right choice. This article is here to help.

4 min read

In the last 10 years, bi-fold doors have become one of the must have features of home renovation projects. Perhaps you’ve been tempted to invest in a set for yourself? If this is the case, it’s time to narrow down your search. After all, bi-fold doors come in many shapes and sizes. Let’s explore your options with this breakdown on what the market has to offer…

Why choose bi-fold doors?

  • They can create panoramic views of your garden space
  • They allow a lot of natural light into your home
  • Depending on the frames you choose, they’re a low maintenance (but stunning) feature
  • When opened, they can help blend outdoor spaces with indoors, especially when the flooring is designed to match
  • Their desirability mean they can boost the value of your home

How to choose your bi-fold doors

1. Panel styles

Depending on the size of the opening you’re looking to fill, you’ll need to think about how many panels you'll want to install for your bifold doors. The options are generally two to six panels, however two panels is a relatively rare occurrence.

Two and three panel doors will concertina to one side, while four door set ups usually have one panel folding to one side and three to the other. Five door configurations will usually all concertina to one side, and for six door configurations there is the option of one panel one side and five the other, or three and three.

When choosing your panels it’s important to consider what your room will be used for, and the amount of space available to accommodate your doors. A larger panel width will mean more room is necessary for their use.

2. Materials

When it comes to bi-fold door frames, there are four main options…

  • Hardwood timber
  • Softwood timber
  • uPVC
  • Aluminium

The standard option for bi-fold door frames has traditionally been uPVC, however this has fallen out of fashion as people look for more natural options, like timber or aluminium.

Timber doors come in many different varieties, and can really make a home look beautiful. While hardwood is a durable and high quality option, it may be too expensive for some. Softwood is a cheaper alternative, however it is important to be aware that some of the lower-end models will, when exposed to the environment, be prone to warping over time, which means that their frames may stick or refuse to close.

If you’re looking to invest in high quality bi-fold doors, aluminium also has a lot of advantages. Due to its strength, aluminium allows for slimmer frames, which can create a sleeker appearance. Not only this, but a powder-coated finish means it will never have to be re-coated.

3. Energy efficiency

Building regulations dictate the total energy efficiency of a property - which, of course, would include your bi-fold doors. UK building standards require that all external doors must have a U-value of 1.8w/m2k or lower.

However, if you’re looking to make sure your bi-fold doors retain as much heat as possible, there are ways to take your glazing to the next (environmentally conscious) level.

  • One of the benefits of opting for aluminium frames is that they are manufactured to include a polyamide thermal break. This creates a thermal break which will stop the cold metal from affecting the temperature of your home, as well as prevent inside heat from being lost.

  • Your glazing is another big element that affects insulation. Double glazing will go some way to retaining heat, but for the best performance, we would recommend splashing out for triple glazing. You can also inquire about treatments on offer, as well as the use of argon gas between the panes, which can help insulate your home further.

Learn more: How to create an eco-friendly home

4. Cost

Your budget for your bi-fold doors will be heavily based on the quality of your materials and the installation requirements.

However, as a general rule, you could expect to pay roughly £1,200-£2000 per linear metre of overall frame width. This will be for a good-quality, well-engineered system.

Factors that will affect the price of your bi-fold doors…

Will I need planning permission for bi-fold doors?

Because you’ll be dramatically changing the appearance of your facade, you will need to comply with some form of planning. For some, you may be able to utelise your permitted development rights, providing they apply to your home.

Learn more about permitted development rights

If you’re excluded from the permitted development scheme, either because you live in a flat/maisonette or because you live in a conservation area, you may need to apply for a full planning application. This can be a more subjective decision making process, when compared to permitted development rights, but doesn’t need to be a scary process, especially if you have an architect acting on your behalf during the process.

Listed buildings: if you live in a listed building, don’t forget you’ll also need to obtain ‘listed building consent’ before you can install new bi-fold doors.

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