With summer round the corner, thoughts turn to ways of getting a greater use and pleasure from outside spaces. Bi-fold doors are the perfect link between indoors and out.
When closed, the full-height panels fill the space with natural light and allow you to take in the views outside. When open, they offer more uninterrupted enjoyment of the garden than other glazed doors. Sliding doors, for example, typically have a fixed panel to slip behind, so might only open up 50 per cent of the space. With a pivot door, it turns in place so the opening is divided. Large bi-fold doors, on the other hand, can concertina back to a compact size and be tucked away to one side.
Bi-folds can match or contrast with the architecture of your home – whether you have a period property or modern town house.
Aluminium frames are stronger so can carry larger and heavier pieces of glass on thinner frames. The metal doesn’t rust, flex or twist and isn’t affected by heat, which makes it particularly good for homes more exposed to the elements. Its sleek appearance results in a contemporary look that suits a new build or stands out against an older property.
Timber bi-folds offer a more traditional style and work particularly well in period homes. Made from engineered hardwoods, they can be laminated for extra strength and to reduce expansion and warping. They can also be stained or painted to suit your scheme.
If you want a value option, PVCu bi-folds are available, though they don’t tend to be as strong as aluminium so frames would need to be thicker, and they can be prone to warping, affecting their thermal efficiency.
With bi-folds drawn back, rooms can feel extended out into the garden. There are two types of threshold available at the base for the doors to run along. Non-weathered is when the track is flush to the floor and weathered or rebated is when there is a small lip on one edge to make the closed doors weather tight.
You can increase the perception of a continuous space by using similar materials, such as stone, tile or wood, on the floor and the terrace outside.
Bi-fold doors aren’t only for links between the house and garden, they also work inside as a way to separate spaces. Unlike walls, they can let light flow between rooms, then when you’re entertaining, can be pulled back out of the way, turning it into one open-plan area.
Quality and efficiency
The quality of a bi-fold door is determined by components you do not see from the outside. This includes stainless steel moving parts, such as rollers, but most importantly the engineering of the profile’s inside. This is where the thermal break is located which will determine the door’s energy efficiency and prevent condensation from happening.
Where to buy
Solarlux has 35 years experience in making and installing bi-folding doors. Made in Germany, they are custom designed for an exact fit and are simple to operate. Even ones filling the maximum opening can glide quietly and smoothly back with a flick of the wrist. Solarlux’s latest innovation The Bi-Fold Door is precisely engineered to have the slimmest sight lines on the market and a Uw value as low as 0.8 W/m2K, meeting the specification required for passive houses. The tight seal round the doors means that, when closed, the system is impermeable to cold, high winds and rain. For more details go to solarlux.co.uk