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Bi fold door advice  >  Materials  >  Comparing bifold door materials: wood, aluminium, composite and glass

Comparing bifold door materials: wood, aluminium, composite and glass

When choosing a new patio door for your home, it can be difficult to know which options are available when it comes to the materials. Choosing the right bifold door material can be difficult. When installing any external door, you need to consider the location of your door, the elements it may face, the amount of insulation you require and much more to make sure your new bifold patio doors are right for your home. In this guide, you will find an overview of the most popular bifold materials as well as comparisons.

Popular bifold door materials

Wooden bifold doors

Wooden bifold doors combine stunning natural aesthetics with practicality and durability. Most internal bifold doors are made from wood due to its excellent sound absorption and reasonable price. Wood is also a popular external bifold door material, although extra consideration is needed.

An internal or external folding door can be made from many different kinds of wood, the most common being hardwoods like oak due to their durability, lifespan and insulating properties.

Benefits of wooden bifold doors

  • Natural insulation –– timber bifolds uses air pockets within the cellular structure of the wood to create a natural barrier between the heat and cold
  • Durability –– Vufold offers up to 10 years guarantee on external and 15 years for internal timber bifold doors
  • Customisable style –– an external wooden bifolding door will suit modern and traditional homes and can be stained, varnished or painted almost any colour. You may want the wood of your doors to match the wood in your kitchen or prefer white doors to match other doors and windows in your home
  • Excellent sound absorption –– wood also absorbs sound so can create quieter rooms or external bifold doors can dull the sound from outside
  • Environmentally friendly –– the process of manufacturing timber requires fewer fossil fuels than other materials

Types of wood available

A wooden bifold door will most likely be made from one of the following materials:

  • Hardwoods such as oak
  • Softwoods such as pine

Hardwoods

Hardwoods are an excellent choice for external bifold doors due to their excellent insulation properties, durability and lifespan. If treated and maintained properly, hardwoods are resistant to mould and fungi meaning they are an excellent choice for external bifold doors.

Main features of oak:

Oak is the most popular types of hardwood for bifold doors. The main features of oak are:

  • Distinctive light beige
  • Medium to coarse texture but can be veneered for a smooth feel
  • Incredibly durable
  • Unique grain pattern
  • Excellent thermal efficiency

Softwoods

Softwoods such as pine are often used in cheaper internal bifold doors. Pine is not an ideal material for external bifold doors due to its tendency to warp. The price of softwood bifolds may be tempting but there are several drawbacks to softwoods which you should take into consideration. See our comparison table below.

Main features of pine:

Pine is probably the most popular type of cheap softwood material. The main features of pine are:

  • Pale yellow appearance
  • Cheap to buy
  • Good thermal properties

Hardwoods (Oak) vs Softwoods (Pine)

 HardwoodsPine
Durability
  • Incredibly durable
  • Resistant to warping when made from engineered construction
  • Resistant to mould and fungi if treated properly
  • Popular material for external doors
  • Can warp and crack due to weather/temperature changes
  • Excessive expansion and contraction can create draughts
Maintenance
  • Cleaning every 6 months is recommended
  • External doors need finishing every 2 – 5 years
  • Internal doors require less maintenance
  • Requires careful treatment to prevent rot and the build-up for mould
  • Cleaning recommended every 6 months
  • Refinishing every 2 – 5 years or earlier
Lifespan
  • Long lifespan
  • Vufold offers up to 15-years warranty on some oak bifold doors
  • Short lifespan
Insulation
  • Excellent natural insulation
  • Natural insulation
Recommended for external use?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Warping and moisture damage means pine is not ideal or external bifolds.

Wooden bifold door sizes and cost

Vufold offers many different ranges of wooden bifold doors in many different sizes. In this section, you will find essential information, available sizes, cost and links to some of Vufold's most popular ranges.

Are you looking for external or internal wooden bifold doors?

External wooden bifold doors prices

ThumbnailNameSizesAvailable finishesCost
Elite range(click to view product page) 1.8m - 4.8m
  • Unfinished oak
  • Prefinished oak
£1399 - £3999 approx.
Master range(click to view product page) 1.8m - 4.8m
  • Anthracite grey
  • Traffic white
£1599 - £3629 approx.

Internal wooden bifold doors prices

ThumbnailNameSizesAvailable finishesPrices
Inspire range(click to view product page) 1.2m - 2.7m
  • Unfinished oak
  • Traffic white
£739 - £1429 approx.
Finesse range (clear glass)(click to view product page) 1.8m - 3.6m
  • Unfinished oak
  • Traffic white
£969 - £1969 approx.
Finesse range (frosted glass)(click to view product page) 1.8m - 3.6m
  • Unfinished oak
£1089 - £1849 approx.
Edge range(click to view product page) 1.8m - 3.0m
  • Unfinished oak
£1089 - £1509 approx.

Want to find out more about wooden bifold doors?

Aluminium bifold doors

External aluminium bifold doors have become increasingly popular as a result of their low maintenance and slim sightlines which offer more natural light, and excellent durability.

An aluminium bifolding door provides a stylish, contemporary look for your home with many different finishes available.

Benefits of aluminium bifold doors

  • Slim sightlines –– aluminium is a strong material meaning that less material is needed to support the glass so that you can enjoy greater views
  • Excellent lifespan –– Powder coated aluminium is corrosion resistant which means it’s lifespan (and guarantee) is often longer than other materials
  • Low maintenance –– aluminium requires much less maintenance than other materials
  • Environmentally friendly –– aluminium can be recycled unlike uPVC
  • Contemporary style –– aluminium is timelessly stylish and suitable in almost any modern home

Aluminium lifespan vs Hardwood and uPVC

Aluminium has the longest lifespan of any bifold material. This is due to the excellent durability of the material, especially when it has been powdered coated.

 AluminiumHardwooduPVC
Average guarantee 15 years 10 years 10 years
Average lifespan 45 years 20 - 30 years 20 - 30 years

External aluminium bifold door sizes and cost

ThumbnailNameSizesPrices
Status range(click to view product page) 1.8m - 6m £1700 - £5200 approx.
Supreme range(click to view product page) 1.8m - 6m £2400 - £6500 approx.

Popular colours for aluminium bifold doors

ThumbnailNameRal numberAvailable ranges
Anthracite grey 7016
  • Status
  • Supreme
Hipca white 9910
  • Status
  • Supreme
Jet black 9005
  • Status
  • Supreme
Anthracite grey (outside)/Traffic white (inside) dual colour 7016 + 9910
  • Status
  • Supreme
Custom RAL N/A
  • Status
  • Supreme

Are aluminium bifold doors better than uPVC?

Aluminium and uPVC are both popular materials but for very different reasons. Aluminium provides longevity, durability and style while uPVC is popular for its low price. In the table below, you will find the key differences between aluminium and uPVC.

Aluminium vs uPVC bifold doors

 AluminiumuPVC
Lifespan
  • Has the longest expected lifespan of any material
  • 15 year guarantee
  • 20 – 30 years expected lifespan
  • 10-year guarantee
  • The cheaper the door the shorter the lifespan
Durability
  • Powder coated to protect from corrosion
  • Resistant to heat and light damage
  • Resistant to expansion/warping
  • Not as durable
  • Prone to warping which can create draughts and affect operation
  • 2.5 times more expansion than aluminium*
Maintenance
  • Wash with soapy water every six months
  • Less likely to show dirt than uPVC
  • Wash with soapy water every six months
  • If expansion has occurred, adjustments may need to be made
Environmental
  • Can be recycled
  • Considered carbon neutral
  • Faced a lot of environmental controversies
  • The incineration of PVC releases Dioxins - highly toxic chemicals known as persistent environmental pollutants (POPs). Dioxins can remain in the environment for many years.**
Finish and styles
  • Aluminium is known to be a stylish and versatile material
  • Aluminium doors can be powder coated in almost any RAL colour
  • Powder coating can increase durability and resistances
  • Does not provide the same style as aluminium
  • Can often look cheap
  • Wide variety of colours available
Initial costs
  • Higher upfront costs
  • considered an investment
  • Lower upfront costs
  • Shorter lifespan
Long term costs

Low maintenance and high durability mean low long term costs

More likely to have to pay repair/maintenance costs which can add up over the years

*Based on a study conducted by Tangram

**According to Medical News Today

Want to find out more about aluminium doors?

Composite bifold doors

Composite bifold doors combine the natural insulation of wooden doors with the durability and longevity of aluminium doors. The aluminium is on the outside to protect from the weather, while the timber is on the inside and can match various furnishings, whether its to match your kitchen or living space.

External composite bifold doors can provide some of the best insulation of any bifold door, with the Vufold Ultra range offering some of the best U-values in the country.

Benefits of composite bifold doors

  • Best of wood and aluminium –– combining the naturally insulating properties of wood with the durability and strength of aluminium
  • Low maintenance –– external aluminium cladding requires less maintenance than other materials
  • Excellent thermal insulation –– Timber frame composite bifold doors offer some of the best U-values in the country

The best composite bifold door: Vufold Ultra range

The Vufold Ultra range of external folding doors is the ultimate combination of a timber frame and aluminium cladding. The Ultra range has one of the best U-values in the country with quality that will be hard to beat.

View the Ultra product page!

Key features:

  • Minimal maintenance
  • Triple glazed safety glass
  • Fully weather tested
  • Vectis multi point lock, highly secure
  • CE Marking accreditation
  • Available sizes: 1.8m – 4.8m

Price: £2799 - £6389 approx.

Available colour options

ThumbnailNameRal number
Traffic white 9016
Anthracite grey 7016

Want to find out more about composite doors?

You’ll find many more benefits, comparisons and further information on composite door at our guide: What is a composite bifold door? Benefits, comparisons, colours and glass.

Choosing the right glazing for your bifold doors

Glass

Glass is a key component to a bifold door. It’s probably the main attribute that makes people desire a bifold door. Glass takes up the most space on a bifold door, providing the natural light and stunning views.

You want to ensure your bifold glass is both thermally efficient and secure. To do this, you need to look at the type of glass and glazing.

Type of glass

When you purchase a bifold, it will likely be made from the following types of glass:

  • Tempered safety glass –– created by rapidly heating and cool glass to increase strength
  • Laminated glass –– created by sandwiching vinyl between two pieces of glass to hold the glass together

Tempered safety glass vs laminated glass

 Tempered safety glassLaminated glass
Strength 5X stronger than standard glass
  • Same strength as standard glass
  • Vinyl holds the glass together when shattered
Noise
  • Shatters when broken
  • Can alert the neighbours
  • Holds together when shattered
  • May take several hits to break which can alert neighbours
Price Unlikely to increase costs May cost extra

Glazing

Glazing is incredibly important on a bifold door. Because glass takes up the most space on a bifold door, it’s the material that is most likely to let energy escape. The glass type and the thickness of the glazing units will impact on how energy efficient the bifold door is.

It’s very unlikely you can purchase a single-glazed external bifold door. Single glazing is old technology and the least thermally efficient type of glazing. In this section, we will focus on double and triple glazing.

Double glazing vs triple glazing

Double glazing is made from two panes of glass that creates a cavity which is often filled with an innate gas (known as a thermal break). This gas-filled cavity creates a barrier between the inside and outside providing insulation.

Triple glazing uses the same technique except it uses three panes of glass to create two separate thermal breaks for even better insulation.

Benefits of triple glazing

  • Excellent sound insulation
  • Produces low U-value
  • Extremely energy efficient
  • Incredibly long-lasting

Both double and triple glazing provide excellent thermal efficiency. Vufolds bifold doors are either double or triple glazing.

The costs of bifold door materials: A comparison

The average costs of bifold doors can vary depending on the size, material and whether you’re looking to fit them internally or externally. The cost of the doors you choose should be carefully considered to ensure that your budget will cover the right folding doors for your home.

Best value materials for bifold doors

TypePrice Range (1.8m - 3.6m)Reason for priceLength of guaranteeLifespan
Wood £1399 - £3199 approx
  • High-quality material
  • Sustainably sourced
10 year 20 - 30 years
Aluminium £1800 - £3400 approx
  • High-quality material
  • Durability
  • Longevity
15 year 45 years
Composite £2799 - £4599 approx
  • Combined material
  • One of the best U-value in the country
  • Longevity
10 year 30 years +
uPVC £1200 - £2500 approx
  • Cheap materials
  • Environmentally unfriendly
  • Prone to damage
10 year 20 - 30 years

Door configuration and size guide

Bifold doors are configured in pairs. The smallest bifold patio door you can get has two doors. The largest is six doors, unless you are looking for a bespoke door, which can be bigger.

If space is available, Vufold recommends three doors as a minimum so one panel can act as a traffic door, meaning you don't have to open the entire bifold every time you want to get through.

The table below will show the aperture size and the number of doors required depending on the material.

Aperture sizeAluminiumWoodCompositeuPVC
Up - 2 metres 2 doors 3 doors 3 doors 3 doors
2 - 3.6 metres 3 or 4 doors 3, 4 or 5 doors 3 or 4 doors 3, 4 or 5 doors
3.7 - 5 metres 4 or 5 doors 5 or 6 doors 5 or 6 doors 5 or 6 doors
5.1 - 6 metres 5 or 6 doors N/A N/A N/A

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