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Bi fold door advice  >  Materials  >  Wooden Bifold doors: benefits, types and differences

Wooden Bifold doors: benefits, types and differences

Wooden bifolds (also known as timber bifolds) are a popular choice of door. The natural product offers natural aesthetics with durability and practicality. In this guide, you will find information on the benefits of wooden bifolds, the types available and a brief comparison with aluminium.

In this guide:

Benefits of wooden bifolds

There are several benefits to wooden bifolds, the main ones include:

  • Low energy production – the process of manufacturing timber uses far less fossil fuel energy compared to aluminium
  • Natural insulation – timber has many air pockets within its cellular structure, which means that timber naturally creates a barrier between heat and cold
  • Style versatility – Timber can be provided unfinished, meaning you can stain, varnish or paint your doors any colour you like
  • Sound absorption – wood absorbs sound which can create quieter rooms

Types of wooden bifolds

Wooden bifolds are generally made from two types of wood:

In this section, you will find the attributes, pros and cons as well as costs for each type of material.

Hardwoods / oak

Oak is a type of timber that derives from the oak tree. It is a hardwood that is often used for bifold doors due to its excellent insulation properties, durability and lifespan.

Attributes of oak

The following table showcases the key attributes of oak that separates it from other types of timber.

Appearance

· Distinctive appearance

· Yellowish brown

· Grain usually straight but can vary with growth conditions

Texture

· Texture is medium to coarse

· If veneered it will have a smooth feel

Lifespan

· Long lasting

Insulation properties

· Most hardwoods are excellent insulators

· Timber is generally a good insulator

Durability

· If treated / maintained:

o Resistant to mould

o Resistant to fungi

Pros and cons of hardwood / oak

Hardwood is a dependable and highly regarded type of timber, however, it still has a couple of drawbacks. The following table showcases the main pros and cons of oak timber.

Pros

Cons

Incredibly durable

Stain can overly darken and exaggerate the grain

Resistant to warping when made from engineered construction

Slightly more expensive than other types of timber

Highlights the grain for a distinctive look

Will require treatment / maintenance

Excellent thermal properties

 

Long lifespan

 

If treated:

· Resistant to mould & fungi

 

Internal / external considerations of hardwood

You will need to make certain considerations before purchasing a hardwood bifold door. The considerations you need to make depends on whether you are looking to purchase an internal or external bifold door.

In this section you will find information on the main considerations to make for both:

Internal bifold doors

The main considerations for wooden internal bifold doors:

Access

If your bifold door will be frequently used, you should consider buying a bifold with a daily access door (also known as a lead door or traffic door).

A traffic door acts like a traditional door which can be operated without having to operate the entire bifold door. This offers easy access between rooms with minimal effort.

Space and stacking

Bifold doors require space to stack when it is fully opened. The best way to decide where your door will stack is deciding which room has the most space.

A standard three door bifold offers two sets of options:

Opening direction

  • Open outwards (into the other room)
  • Open inwards (towards you)

Opening side

  • To the left
  • To the right

For more information, see the diagram below:

door opening direction

You can decide which direction and side your bifold door opens into before installation. You will be unable to change the direction or side after installation. It is important you consider carefully before installation.

You can also find four door configurations which have an access door that opens like a standard door and three leaves which operate like a three door bifold.

The Vufold Inspire range goes against standard door operation to provide a space-saving alternative. Rather than opening left or right, the Inspire opens from the middle (except on a 2 door) and folds back against the wall. This unique system maximises opening space for an open-plan feel.

External considerations

External doors require different considerations than internal. The key considerations you should make for external oak / hardwood bifold doors are:

Thermal efficiency

Thermal efficiency ensures that your room stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Thermal efficiency is important as it means you will spend less energy keeping a room at a moderate temperature. Fortunately, hardwood is naturally thermally efficient.

To check a bifold door’s thermal efficiency, check the overall U-value.

The U-value is the measurement of material insulation effectiveness. The lower the value, the more effective the material is.

The overall U-value is the U-value of the glass and frame combined. When checking the thermal efficiency of a bifold door, ensure you look for the overall U-value, not just the glass value.

Security

Investing in a secure bifold door is key to ensuring the safety of your property. You can increase the security properties of your bifold door by focusing on the following areas:

  • Locks –– purchase a multipoint lock as it offers up to three times the level of security of standard locks
  • Glass –– ensure your glass is either tempered (toughened) glass for added strength or laminated for impact proofing
UV protection

External bifold doors face the elements – UV rays, turbulent weather, season changes. This can reek havoc on less resilient woods and cause damage to the door.

UV rays can damage any timber bifold door. The best way to combat UV damage is by using a tinted finish. The tint will stop the UV rays from damaging the oak ensuring the longevity of the door. Please note that tinted finishes will darken the door slightly, to make sure you take that into consideration before purchasing your hardwood bifolds.

Stability / durability

Hardwoods such as oak are much more resilient than softwoods. Hardwoods suit situations that require durability and longevity.

Additional durability can be attained by purchasing engineered hardwood. Vufold’s wooden bifold doors are manufactured from engineered construction; no twisting, bowing or warping. 

With the right treatment, oak and other hardwoods can remain fully operational for many years.

Cost

Hardwood such as oak is slightly more expensive than softwoods but as previously mentioned, you are paying for additional benefits such as thermal efficiency and durability.

The table below showcases the costs of oak bifold doors (with finish included) in various sizes.

Oak bifold size and costs

Bifold size

Cost

1.8 Metres

£1699

(3 door)

2.4 Metres

£1999

(3 door)

3.0 Metres

£2629

(4 door)

3.6 Metres

£3199

(5 door)

Finishes

Vufold offer four styles for wooden bifold doors:

  • Prefinished oak – Fully finished in durable a high build microporous wood coating system, ready for installation
  • Unfinished oak – this allows you to add your own finish including stains, varnish or paint.
  • White – fully finished in a durable, microporous paint, ready for installation.
  • Grey ­– fully finished in a durable, microporous paint, ready for installation.

You can find out more about oak bifold doors including more information on the benefits and considerations, as well as the best oak bifold doors available.

Softwood / pine bifold doors

Pine is a softwood material often used in cheaper bifold doors. Whilst it’s low price may be tempting; you should know about the drawbacks when comparing to hardwood before purchasing.

Attributes of softwood / pine

Appearance

· Pale yellow

· Straight grain

Texture

· Rough and irregular

Lifespan

· Short lasting

Insulation properties

· All timber are good insulators

Durability

· Poor durability

· Prone to warping

Pros and cons of softwood / pine

As previously mentioned, pine is cheaper than oak. However, you sacrifice quality and durability for this price, which needs to be taken into consideration.

In this section, you will information on the other main pros and cons of pine wood.

Pros

Cons

Low cost

Will warp due to weather / temperature changes

 

Warping may cause operational issues

Considerations for softwood / pine bifold doors

Careful consideration needs to be made when looking to purchase pine bifold doors, including:

  • Treatment

Treatment

Softwoods such as pine require careful treatment with strong preservatives in order to prevent rot. This may impact the price and maintenance levels. This is particularly important for external bifold doors which face frequent moisture and temperature changes.

Hardwoods such as oak do not require the same level of treatment.

Shrinking and swelling

Softwood is prone to shrinking and swelling due to moisture absorption. The tolerances on standard bifolds are not that high so this movement can cause warping and cracks. This level of damage can stop your bifold door from operating at an optimum level.

Shrinking and swelling in bifold doors may cause:

  • Warping / cracks
  • Door to stop closing properly
  • Increase in gaps will let draft in
  • Moisture can sit inside the door and cause mould

This means that pine bifold doors are not suited for external doors, due to the lack of long term stability and likelihood of damage.

Internal or external

Location is an important factor for all types of bifold doors. External doors require different qualities than internal bifold doors.

Internal doors

Internal doors do not require the same level of insulation, therefore double glazing is not required. If you purchase internal bifold doors with double glazing, you will be paying too much money for little benefit.

External doors

External doors require high-levels of insulation in order to combat the cold / heat from outside. This means your glass should be at least double glazed and your frame should be made from thermally efficient materials.

As mentioned above, softwood / pine doors are prone to warping and swelling due to moisture and UV damage. This level of warping can cause a range of issues including poor door operation and drafts. This means that hardwood bifold doors are a preferred option for external doors

Cost

As previously mentioned, pine is a cheaper wood material than oak. However, there are several drawbacks to using the material. Bifold doors are an investment and should provide many years of operation and protection.

In this section, you will find the average cost of pine bifold doors.

Bifold size

Cost (pine)

1.8 Metres

£1350

2.4 Metres

£1550

3.0 Metres

£2300

3.6 Metres

£2550

Finishes

Pine, like all wood materials, can be stained, varnished or painted in almost any colour you would like. You can often buy unfinished pine bifold doors in order to finish the door yourself. However, pine requires a lot of treatment in order to protect against moisture entering the timber. Moisture can cause excessive movement which affects door operation.

Your best chance at avoiding mould is by purchasing a factory finished door.

Comparing wood and aluminium bifold doors

Wood and aluminium are both popular materials for bifold doors. They both offer durability and high-quality operation. The differences mostly come down to cost and aesthetic taste.

The table below showcases the main similarities and differences between wood and aluminium bifold doors:

Wood vs aluminium bifold doors

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Wood

Aluminium

Cost

· Mid-range

· Not as cheap as uPVC

· Not as expensive as aluminium

· The most expensive material for bifold doors

Durability

· Hardwood is incredibly durable

· Softwood is less durable and should be avoided

· Should be treated for increased longevity

· Incredibly durable

Maintenance

· Needs finishing every 2 – 5 years

· Cleaning every 6 months is recommended

· Less maintenance is required if it is an internal door

· Low maintenance

· Cleaning with soapy water recommended

Thermal efficiency

· Naturally thermally efficient

· Vufold’s hardwood bifold doors are incredibly thermally efficient

· Very thermally efficient

Colours and finishes

· A wide range of stains, paints, varnishes and finishes

· A wide range of finishes available

Environmental impact

· The most environmentally friendly material for bifold doors

· Sourced from renewable sources

· Can be carbon neutral

· Not as environmentally friendly as wood

 

You can find out more about aluminium for external doors by visiting the guide:

EXTERNAL BIFOLD DOORS: ALUMINIUM V UPVC – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?