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Patio doors: bifold, sliding and French doors

If you have a garden or a view you wish to show off, patio doors are an excellent choice. However, ‘patio door’ can be a confusing term which covers several different types of door. This guide will showcase the types of patio doors, security features, sizes and costs.

In this guide

What is a patio door?

A patio door is an all-encompassing term that generally refers to three external door types:

  • Sliding doors
  • Bifold doors
  • French doors

You may find the term used interchangeably for all three doors, or specifically for one kind of door. They differ in terms of usages, styles and price range, so it is worth researching to find the right door.

sliding door

Sliding doors

Sliding patio doors open horizontally along a track. They are often used in wider openings or when you want to showcase a view. Larger leaves (panes of glass) offer uninterrupted views, while the door’s horizontal system means the leaves stack neatly behind each other, saving space.

Vufold’s sliding patio doors are made from robust aluminium. The doors also come with double glazing, which offers excellent thermal performance.

bifold door

Bifold doors

Bifold folding patio doors are made up of multiple doors. When opened, these doors fold back on themselves, creating a concertina effect. Bifold doors use a track system to open and close. This allows the doors to roll and fold in one seamless operation. Entire walls can be opened up by using bifold doors, making them a popular choice.

Vufold’s bifold patio doors are available in aluminium, composite, oak and hardwood and can be chosen in a range of colours.

french door

French doors

A French patio door is simply two doors that pivot on hinges mounted on opposite sides of the door framing. They are used for smaller openings and are popular with traditional homes

Vufold’s French patio doors offer energy-efficient double or triple glazing, multi-point locking systems and a 10- or 15-year guarantee.

French doors vs bifold vs sliding

 

French doors

Bifold doors

Sliding doors

Style

  • Generally used in traditional homes
  • Cottages and period homes
  • Can be used in contemporary and traditional homes
  • Generally used in contemporary homes

Available sizes

1.2m – 1.8m

1.8m – 6m

2.4m – 6m

(larger sizes available bespoke)

Sightlines

(Door stiles / frame sections)

  • Widest
  • The larger sightlines are part of the style/appeal
  • Slimline
  • Slimline

Glazing

  • Double/triple glazed
  • Low E*
  • Toughened safety glass
  • Double/triple glazed
  • Low E*
  • Toughened safety glass
  • Double glazed
  • Low E*
  • Toughened safety glass

Materials/finishes

  • Aluminium
  • Oak/Hardwood
  • Composite (aluminium on the outside, oak on the inside)
  • Aluminium
  • Oak/Hardwood
  • Composite (aluminium on the outside, oak on the inside)
  • Aluminium

Price range

(Double Glazed)

£800 – £2,600

£1,400 – £6500

£2,700 – £5000

Recommended for

  • Smaller or more traditional homes
  • If you are looking to transition your bedroom to outside
  • Balconies
  • Those looking to bring the outside in
  • Traditional or contemporary homes
  • Homes with a view
  • Houses with large gardens
  • Wider openings

*Low E – means the glass reduces the amount of heat transfer. Keeping rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Fitting

The basic steps for fitting patio doors are similar between the different types: measure, install frames, install leaves (doors). However, the specifics of installation can vary greatly even within the same patio door type. If you are planning to fit your own patio doors, ensure you closely follow the instructions that come with your door.

How to measure patio doors

All patio doors are measured the same way – whether bifold, sliding or French doors:

patio diagram
  1. Measure the width in three separate levels (bottom, middle, top)
  2. Measure the height from top to bottom at three separate places (left, centre, right)
  3. Subtract 10mm from the smallest measurements
  4. You can also check the aperture by measuring the diagonal from corner to corner

If you aren’t comfortable with accurately measuring for patio doors, hire a professional.

Floor levels

Floor levels will need careful consideration when installing patio doors. You will need to check with building control to ensure your patio floor level meets the required standards. Careful consideration needs to be made regarding accessibility, drainage and insulation. Many variables can affect these standards so we cannot make any recommendations.

You can find some answers by visiting the planning portal. This offers advice on planning permission, applications and building regulations.

Security features

Anyone purchasing patio doors need to consider security. With proper preparation, any type of patio door can be incredibly secure. In this section, we will look at the two key parts of the door that can help improve security:

  • Locks
  • Glass

Locks

Locks are one of the most important aspects of patio door security. It is always worth investing in a good quality lock to ensure the top level of security. The following section looks at the most common types of lock found on patio doors:

Multipoint lock

A multi-point lock is screwed / fixed into the door edge and uses multiple types of locking mechanisms; often including a deadbolt, a latch and a combination of rollers, mushrooms, hooks and bolts for extra stability and security. Multipoint locks are a popular choice because it can offer at least three times the level of security offered by a single deadbolt or mortice lock.

Vectis multi point lock

Vufold supplies door handles that fit a Vectis type locking system. The Vectis multi point lock is supplied with Vufolds composite and timber bifolding and French doors. Vectis type locking systems are approved by Secured By Design which is a police backed industry standard focusing on crime prevention. Vectis locks combine a traditional five-lever mortice lock with the added reinforcement of a steel hook system which eliminates the need for a euro cylinder.

Euro cylinder lock

Euro cylinder Is one of the most common types of lock and used in many patio doors. However, you must ensure your euro cylinder is appropriate as an external lock. 

Euro cylinders can be rated one star or three stars by the British Kitemark, which is a service quality trademark operated by The British Standards Institution. These star ratings show whether a euro cylinder lock has passed certain tests – most importantly, snapping tests. Low quality euro cylinder locks have a major weakness around the screw fixing position which means when pressure is applied, the lock can snap.

The star system is:

  • One star – lock has met the criteria of British Kitemark but has not passed snapping tests. The lock will require an additional 2 star rated security hardware (such as reinforced handles) to reach the three-star rating
  • Three star – lock has passed all criteria of the TS007 British Standard Kitemark, including snapping tests.

When choosing a patio door, the optimum euro cylinder lock is rated three stars.

Glass

Most patio doors use large panes of glass to showcase a garden or view. This glass should be safe, secure and reinforced, without any detriment to glass quality. Patio doors generally come in two types of glass:

  • tempered glass (also known as toughened glass)
  • laminated

Tempered glass is produced by heating and cooling standard glass in a tempering furnace. Once the glass has been rapidly cooled it is 4 – 5 times stronger than before.

Laminated glass is produced using 2 pieces of glass with a vinyl layer sandwiched between them; bonded using a combination of pressure and heat. When shattered, this process makes the glass hold together.

Tempered glass vs laminated glass

 

Tempered glass

Laminated glass

Strength

Up to 5x strength compared to normal glass

Same as normal glass

Shatter behaviour

  • Breaks into smaller pieces
  • Makes loud sound which can alert neighbours
  • Remains as one unit
  • No holes created
  • No sound created

Uses

  • Bus stops
  • Phone boxes
  • Doors and windows
  • Storefronts
  • Windscreens
  • Doors and windows

Price

Unlikely to increase door costs

More expensive

Different patio door manufacturers will have their own preferences. You may be able to replace one type of patio door glass with an alternative, but will require a professional and is not recommended.

Sizes and costs

In this section, you will find a range of sizes, the recommended door for that size and the approximate price range. Please note, these are recommendations. Vufold stocks patio doors of all sizes and types.

Patio doors sizes, recommendations and prices

Size (approx. ft.)

Recommended door

Price range

1.2 metres (4ft)

French doors

£800 - £1,900

1.5m (5ft)

French doors

£900 - £2,400

1.8m (6ft)

French doors/bifold doors

£900 - £2,600

2.1m (7ft)

Bifold doors

£1,400 - £3,500

2.4m (8ft)

Bifold doors

£1,400 - £3,600

2.7m (9ft)

Bifold doors

£1,800 - £3,700

3.0m (10ft)

Bifold doors

£2,000 - £3,800

3.6m (12ft)

Bifold doors

£2,400 - £4,100

4.0m (13.1ft)

Bifold doors/Sliding doors

£3,300 - £4.900

5.0m (16.4ft)

Sliding doors

£3, 900 +

6.0 m (19.6ft)

Sliding doors

£4,400 +

Curtains and blinds

Having large open patio doors are excellent for bringing in light into the room, but you may wish to have some privacy and control over the amount of light coming in. Blinds and curtains are a cost-effective way to gain a bit of privacy and light control.

Blinds

Blinds are a quick and easy solution for privacy and light control. They are stylish and versatile with many styles and designs available. Some businesses will sell blinds that are specifically designed to fit their doors, or alternatively, you can purchase made-to-measure.

The more popular designs of blinds are:

  • Pleated blinds – made from a textured fabric that is concertina or honeycomb in design.
  • Roller blinds – Roller blinds roll vertically up and down the patio door. It is often made of a single fabric that is operated by a string or chain to lift and lower.
  • Integral blinds – Integral blinds are installed between two panes of glass that make up a double-glazed patio door unit. This means the blinds are part of the door, rather than an accessory. This means they cannot get damaged or dirty and can last as long as your patio door does.

Curtains

The larger your patio door, the harder it may be to find suitable blinds. If this is the case, you should look at purchasing curtains. This should be considered before purchasing a patio door as they may take up extra space.

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