Sliding patio doors have made a huge comeback in recent years. The evolution of aluminium has brought with it sliders with slimmer sightlines, bigger glazed areas and flush thresholds that vastly improve any room they’re installed in to. They have eaten into some of the growth in the bi-folding doors market, and it was a resurgence that perhaps many didn’t see coming.
But in a bi-folding door vs sliding patio toss-up, I am still on the side of bi-folds.
Bi-folding doors and that wow factor
There are some clear reasons why sliding patio doors have roared back in popularity. They’re a more budget-friendly option than bi-folding doors. They have larger glazed areas, which is key for making the most of a view. In aluminium, you can achieve some huge glazed expanses. Camden also do a PVCu slider that can achieve massive proportions.
But, with a slider you will always have a portion of the door that remains fixed, therefore taking away the ability to open up the entire opening. Unless you have a huge 7m opening in your home where not being able to utilise the final third of the glass isn’t an issue, this is important. For most houses, where they might have an opening of 1.8m – 3m to play with, space becomes an important factor.
This is why I still like the option of bi-folding doors. Yes they have to stack in or out, usually out, but once fully opened the homeowner has the entire opening to their advantage. So when the weather is finally good enough, you can make the most of the indoor/outdoor feel with a bi-folding door.
There is also the wow factor when they are being used. There is no denying that operating a bi-folding door just looks way cooler than a sliding patio. The folding and stacking operation grabs your attention way more than the sliding operation does. On wide or tall openings, that folding movement looks even better. It adds a ton of character to a house and becomes a talking point when they’re being shown off in front of others.
The argument that sliding patios win out because of the larger glazed areas is a valid one. If you have a stunning garden or view that you want to take advantage of and there is a 5m opening to fill, it would be quite possible to get a large aluminium two-section slider and minimise the number of times that view is obstructed. But then you can only use half of it.
In my case, for example, I have just had a pair of French doors and sidelights replaced with a fantastic set of Declu88 bi-folds. It was a 2.4m opening, so I had a three-section bi-folding door installed. I actually have more glazed area now than I did before, and I am now able to open up my dining room into the garden way more than I could before. It makes both the room and the garden look bigger because of the open space. Indeed, because of the position of the garden and the doors, I can see all the way to the other end of the house from the top of the garden which makes the house itself feel bigger. I would not have been able to achieve the same effect with a slider.
Doors that defy logic
If you look at one of the core purposes of bi-folds, it is to take advantage of the good weather outside and build a bridge between the indoors and outdoors. Great, if you have the weather. However we like in the UK, and the weather this summer hasn’t been all that great. Compared to 2020 this summer has been pretty poor actually.
Yet, bi-folding doors remain popular. We don’t have a Spanish or American climate that would easily justify a product like this. But Brits are buying bi-folds in large numbers and there is no clear sign that this is going to stop any time soon.
The reason being is down to what is described above. They have a wow factor. A level of prestige and desire. Homeowners want them despite the weather. They are something to show off to friends and neighbours.
There is a luxury feel to them that is taken from shows like Grand Designs on TV and mega home tours on YouTube. This is where our industry could be making more use of the easy marketing around bi-folding doors. Instead of focusing on prices per leaf, command a better price by showing how amazing a home could look by installing the right bi-folds. This is an easy product to market and sell at a healthier price because demand is so good.
Bi-folding doors remain a fantastic choice and there are plenty of benefits to them, which I myself are enjoying at the moment. Sliders also very much have their place and are a great product in a much-evolved industry. Though if it were a choice between the two, I would fall on the side of the bi-folding doors every time I think.
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Great big glass units on sliders, sometimes craned into place = blown sealed units down the line and marks in the glass. There will have been wobble strains on these units somewhere during supply or install. Poor window company later ( if they haven’t skipped off the company register and avoided their guarantees). EG: Trophy Wife in Penthouse facing River Thames ” cannot live with the tiny marks” so crane returns and costs are enormous especially if the unit is sealed into the framework. I avoid large paned sliders unless the customer signs an agreement on what marks are acceptable… Read more »