What are external bifold doors?
External bifold doors were originally called many different names folding sliding doors, folding patio doors, bifold patio doors, sliding patio doors, concertina doors. It is only more recently that bifold doors has been adopted by manufacturers and consumers alike.
Depending on the width of your opening, bifold doors usually have a minimum of 2 up to a maximum of 6 doors that are joined together with engineered hardware which allows them to slide and fold together easily. It is possible to have more than 6 doors but it’s unusual.
Why choose external bifold doors?
- Increase Natural light – dimly lit large and small living spaces can have their general atmosphere totally transformed by replacing areas of solid wall with bifold door systems.
- Increases the feeling of space – Even with a small garden the fact you can visually see beyond the rear of the house really increases that feeling of space within. Even small rooms can benefit massively from this.
- Blur Boundaries – create seem-less areas between the inside and outside when the doors are open, perfect for those larger special occasions.
- Energy efficient – modern bifold doors easily outperform old style patio doors when it comes to thermal efficiency saving you money on heating bills.
- Secure – most bifold doors feature multi point locks on the access door along with shoot bolts on other doors making them very secure.
- Quick and easy to install – bifold doors are quick and easy to install typically 1 day is more than enough.
- Easy operation – High quality bifold door hardware is very easy to use, sliding and folding open and closed in seconds.
- Add value/saleability – Installing bifold doors in your home improves the appeal to potential purchasers and can even increase the value of your home. While at the same time giving you all of the above benefits.
Where can bifold doors be used?
External bifold doors can be used in many different locations. The most common use is in new extensions added to the rear of a house. This could be an extension to the kitchen, living or dining room. They are also often found in conservatories, orangeries and to a lesser extent bedrooms.
Bifold doors can also be used in bars and restaurants and shops in the high street.
Do exterior bifold doors need planning permission?
Generally speaking you rarely need to apply for planning permission to install exterior bifold doors in an existing opening in your home.
If you are creating a new opening or enlarging an existing opening you should be covered under permitted development rights however it’s worth contacting your local authority first before undergoing any work.
If you live in a listed building, conservation area or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) then you would need to get the appropriate planning permission.
How much do bifold doors cost?
The cost of an external bi fold door will vary depending on the:
- Overall width
- Material used in construction
- Number of doors
- Glazing e.g double glazed, triple glazed, laminated glass
Some example prices can be found in the below table
||Material||Width in Metres||No. Doors||Finish||Double/Triple Glazing||Cost inc VAT|
|Status Express||Aluminium||2.7||3||Anthracite Grey||Double||£2699.00|
Ready-to-assemble what does it mean?
Our external bifolds are only supplied as a complete package. In other words they come with everything, all the essential item’s needed such as hinges, tracks, hardware, ironmongery, fixings and seals are included. The doors are even pre – glazed in our factories. Virtually everything is pre-machined and ready-to-assemble**.
That means once your external bifold doors are installed, you can be sure of having a fully engineered unit with all aspects of the design and components extensively tested by us for flawless operation.
Advantages of a ready-to-assemble door set
You might find cheaper door sets that look similar but beware they don’t always include all the items you need and are often not pre-machined or pre-glazed ready-to-assemble.
Vufold sets offer you many advantages:
- Comprehensive easy to follow fitting instructions included.
- No complicated ‘toe and heeling’ of the glass required.
- Consistent high quality, so every part fits as it should.
- Competent DIYer’s may not need a specialist fitter.
- Reduced time and cost through quicker installation on-site
- No specialist equipment needed as virtually everything's fully machined.
- No need to waste time and money sourcing fixing’s.
- No delays and frustration while you source essential components from different suppliers.
For true peace of mind you need a Vufold Door Set - every supplied component has been thoroughly tested and approved. That's why we guarantee all our external bifold door sets for a minimum of 10 years.
** Elite, Master and Ultra require handle preparation to be done by installer all drill bits are included with the bifold door set.
Top hung v Bottom Rolling what’s the difference? Which is best?
All exterior bifold doors need both a main track and a guide track to operate. These are located in the head and sill/threshold of the frame.
Top hung systems have the main track located in the frame head, the doors attach to the track via a carrier with rollers. The doors then ‘hang’ from this track. To prevent the possibility of the rollers/doors falling out during operation they are fully enclosed within the main track. The guide track is located in the threshold.
- Lower threshold – Guide tracks have a slimmer profile than main tracks, as the guide track is located in the threshold on top hung systems the overall height of the threshold can be lower.
This looks better and also prevents the likely hood of people tripping over it.
- Low Maintenance – General debris is highly unlikely to collect in the upper track this results in less cleaning and maintenance being required.
- Keeps doors secured – it’s impossible for the doors to fall out of the top hung track adding an extra layer of safety.
- Effortless Operation – as the doors weight hangs from the top they require much less effort to fold and slide together.
- Lintel or Support – Top hung bifolds need an adequate lintel or support in place to carry the weight of the doors.
- Installation – As the weight hangs from the top track it must be very securely fastened over the full width of the frame into a supporting lintel. Drilling holes upwards can be difficult.
Bottom rolling systems are the opposite of top hung the main track is in the sill/threshold and all of the doors weight is carried by the rollers on the floor during operation. The guide track located in the head stops the doors from falling outward during use.
- Installation – doesn’t require many fixings in the guide track located in the frame head.
- Require less support – as bottom rolling systems carry the weight of the doors on the floor the support or lintel needed above the doors is greatly reduced.
- More Maintenance – you will need to regularly clean the bottom main track to keep the doors operating smoothly and prevent jamming or blockages caused by debris.
- Higher threshold – the main track is usually larger than the guide track, bottom roller systems therefore generally have a higher threshold than top hung systems, this can be a trip hazard.
- Safety – if the bottom main track is very poorly supported the track can start to dip. While unlikely if the dip is large enough it could allow the doors to fall out of the top guide.
How energy efficient are external bifold doors?
The U value of a bifold door measures how well it insulates a building, the lower the U value the better it insulates your home and thus reduces heat loss.
Current building regulations dictate that a ‘bifold door set’ should have a U value of 1.8wm2k or less for replacement, new builds and extensions. It is important to get the U value of the complete bifold set as this is the key figure for the regulations. Some companies give the value of the glass only (It’s usually lower than the complete set value) and not the complete door set which can be misleading.
As a general rule when looking at doors of equal thickness wooden doors have superior thermal performance when compared with upvc and thermally broken aluminium doors. A thermal break is an item of low thermal conductive material eg polyamide that is placed in between the aluminium to prevent the flow of energy between them. Aluminium is a great thermal conductor so a thermal break is essential when making doors and windows.
All of Vufold’s range of external bifold doors have U values stated for the ‘complete bifold set’ and also easily exceed the regulations above.
|Vufold Range||Material||Glazing||U Value w(m2/k)|
What’s the best configuration for an external bifold door?
Most homeowners prefer to have a traffic door (a single door that can be easily opened without the need to open any other doors also called a lead door) and also fold all the doors to one side of the opening.
The best way to achieve this is to select and odd number of doors.
It is possible to have a four and six door set with a traffic door but the doors do not fold to one side.
Should my doors open inwards or outwards?
Most people choose to have open out bifold doors for two main reasons, firstly if it’s being raining and the doors are wet on the outside they won’t drip onto your flooring when open.
Secondly there is no issues with furniture getting in the way of the doors when they concertina open or closed.
Vufold standard size bifold doors all open out. If you do need open in we can manufacture these in our Status and Supreme aluminium bi fold door ranges as a bespoke order.
What are trickle vents and do I need them in my bifold door?
Over the last decade or two there has been massive improvements in door and window draught exclusion.
While this increase in air tightness is great for energy efficiency an entirely air tight interior is bad news for moisture and air quality levels.
For this reason, door and window manufacturers designed cold air vents to allow small amounts of air to pass from one side of the door set to the other and so the Trickle vent was born.
There are no mandatory regulations that dictate you need trickle vents in your bifold doors. However, you do need suitable ventilation in all rooms.
How the rooms are ventilated is your own choice it could be done via a window or roof glazing, seek the advice of your local building control body if you are unsure.
If you are fitting an external bifold door in a room with no other windows or roof lights that can be opened to provide ventilation then Vufold would advise that trickle vents are specified.
Even if you choose trickle vents it’s still a good idea to open windows in the house for a few minutes every day to improve air quality, it's particularly important to ensure that you have good extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom to help control moisture in the home.
How secure are external bifolds
Modern bifold doors come with a host of security features making them very secure especially when compared with older style sliding patio or French doors that just feature a single locking point.
Bifold door hardware and track systems combined with the numerous locking points generally make it impossible to simply lift the doors out of the frame.
Multi point locking systems – Are fitted to most bifold doors on the lead or traffic door, from a single key they usually operate 3 or 5 locking points that are spread out over the height of the door. Multi point locks come in two different type’s cylinder or cylinder-less.
Cylinder Locks are also called Euro cylinders. Beware as not all euro cylinders are the same from a security point of view.
Lock snapping and bumping is a serious growing security concern, it is therefore important when specifying your bifold doors that you ensure the doors are being supplied with an anti-snap/bump cylinder. Make sure the cylinder is tested to TS007 standard 3 star rating and also has a kitemark.
3 star cylinders with a kitemark have been independently tested against snapping. Vufold Aluminium Status and Supreme ranges come with 3 star kitemarked cylinders as standard.
Cylinder-less locks are used on all Vufold wooden and composite door ranges. As the name suggests it’s a multi point locking system that does not have a cylinder. As there is no cylinder the lock cannot be snapped or bumped and is therefore much more secure than using a cylinder even a 3 star kitemarked one.
Twin Point locks are found on upvc and aluminium bifold door systems and provide additional security on non-traffic doors. They have a handle mounted centrally on the door, as you rotate that handle through 180 degrees it engages a locking bolt at the top and the bottom of the door into the frame. Twin point locks can feature an additional lock that enables these to be locked as well as the lead door.
Drop Bolts or slide bolts as they can be called carry out the same function as the twin point lock. The only difference is they are mounted separately at the top and bottom of the door and so have to be operated individually. Slide bolts also can come with additional locks as on Vufolds wooden and composite door ranges.
Glazing can also effect security, most external bifold doors come as standard with toughened double glazed units. Laminated glass can also be specified at extra cost if you are looking for that extra level of security. Laminated glass is two pieces of glass that are bonded together with a PVB (polyvinylbutyral) safety film. Most commonly known for its use in car windscreens even when the glass is smashed it remains in place making it very difficult for a thief to get in your house.
What are composite bifold doors?
Composite bifold doors are made by combining two different materials when manufacturing the doors. Usually the two materials are aluminium and wood hence the term aluminium cladding or alu-clad for short.
There are two main types, firstly wooden bifolds that have an aluminium cladding on the outside and secondly aluminium doors that have internal timber cladding which is the best option? Read on to find out.
The main advantages of wooden bifold doors are that it has much better thermal efficiency than other materials like aluminium it is also much easier on the eye especially internally when matching to furniture or flooring. Most wooden bifolds are also top hung which offers much easier operation and less maintenance than bottom roller aluminium systems.
Woods weakness is that externally it needs to be refinished occasionally to keep it in tip top working order. Aluminium’s main advantage as a material is the long life powder coated finish is very resilient and guarantees can stretch to 15 years long which is far in excess of wooden finishes.
Vufolds Ultra range of composite folding doors take full advantage of both materials strong points by combining a wooden door set with its easy operation and great thermal efficiency with the fantastic durability of an aluminium powder coated cladding.
The result is not only a fantastic 15 year guarantee on the external finish but also a superb low u value of just 1.0wm2k for the complete door set, add in a beautiful light oak finish on the inside and you have a combination that can’t be beaten by aluminium door sets with a wooden cladding on the inside.