The popularity of bi-folding doors in this country has me baffled at times. It’s a product that continues to grow in popularity in the residential market year on year, and shows no signs of letting up. But to me it’s illogical. That hasn’t stopped the Great British public from falling in love with them.
The wrong climate
When you look at a bi-folding door, the natural thing to assume is that it’s sole purpose is to connect the outdoors with a home. The way it opens all the way up, letting light and fresh air flood in and connecting home to garden and view. Sounds idyllic, and it is, especially if you’re in Spain, or France, or California or any other country with a climate which allows for such things.
The UK certainly does not have the weather which promotes the opening up of three metres of home to the elements. We’re lucky to get a weekend of summer never mind a full three or four months of it. Yet, that still hasn’t stopped endless numbers of home owners deciding to open up their homes with bi-folds.
It’s all about looks
So they’re not that good when it comes to our type of weather. So what? Home owners aren’t buying them in the hopes of a decent UK summer. They’re buying them because they look damn good.
They’re much more spectacular in their operation compared to French doors. Almost every client has that same look on their face when I show them how bi-folding doors work and open up completely. It actually creates a sense of excitement. I can’t say I’ve seen people give the same reactions for French doors.
Then there’s the choice of material. PVCu ones are great. For home owners looking for a slimmer and more architecutral look then aluminium bi-folds are the way to go. Traditionalists will go for timber. Either way, there is a material choice for any taste.
But I do feel that bi-folds tend to be sold as a blanket product solution, in situations that don’t always call for it.
Don’t forget about the slider
Not too long ago I visited a home with a pretty spectacular extension at the back of the property. They had a decent garden, the extension spanned the full width of the house and they had a door opening of a pretty impressive six metres.
They could have chosen to go down the bi-folding door route, opting for aluminium bi-fold doors at one metre per section creating a six-section folding door. That would have look amazing as it was being opened and closed. It would have also cut up his view. All those bars getting in the way.
Instead he went for a huge three section aluminium slider, producing three impressive glazed sections allowing for maximum light and maximum view. This was the perfect product for that type of situation, and I sometimes think that this sort of thinking should be applied more often to projects seeking the spectacular.
Sliding patio doors have come a long way in recent years and are being constantly improved. It’s a product we shouldn’t forget in a hurry.
So, logically, bi-folding doors shouldn’t work. Our weather is cold, grey and wet. Views are often spoiled by them and they’re not exactly cheap when you compare them to the alternatives. Yet, sales rise year on year and fabricators producing them I am sure will be looking to make the most of it all.
Jason, as always you write a good piece with great balanced points of view.
I think I agree that sometimes in-line sliders are a better more appropriate solution.
One thing to remind readers is about putting some kind of graphics onto the glass to make it easier for children/dogs etc to gain a sense of perspective as they look through the doors and save themselves from a bloody nose!!
Good point about the glass Mark! Birds flying into them is a popular one round here, plenty of bird-shaped outlines!
Its all you vain Yorkshire types having huge mirrors to look at yourselves in ;-) The birds see the reflection of the sky and garden through the window but aren’t savvy to understand reflections , so fly at it , the same thing happens with back to front through rooms , if the birds can see all the way through , they think they can go for it ! Bizzarely we often have birds pecking at our office windows ( fitted with the old reflectafloat) , This is because some territorial birds see their reflection and believe it to be… Read more »