Large glazed doors are a desirable feature in many modern properties. If you're unsure whether to opt for bifold or sliding doors, discover the benefits each will bring to your home.
Image: Aluminium bifolds, Kloeber
Glazed doors such as bifold or sliding doors are one of the most desired features in any self-build or renovation project. A way to maximise natural light and to connect with the outdoors, they will create the wow-factor in your home. Choosing between the two comes down to personal preference and what will work with your project, both practically and aesthetically.
Image: Aluminium bifolds, Kloeber
If you want to bring the outside inside then bifold doors may be the answer. Folding sliding doors are formed of multiple, hinged panels that slide and concertina together, stacking at one or at both sides. They are popular due to their ability to open up to 90% of the aperture, so are perfect for smaller openings.
With a variety of configurations to choose from, you can even add a single access door to your design so you can go in and out of the house without having to fold the panels, ideal for those with pets and young children. Bifolds can open inwards or you can choose to open outwards if interior space is tight.
If you want to extend your room beyond the doors, try to attain a level threshold with a similar flooring inside and out as this will help create a cohesive living space with a seamless connection to your garden creating extra space for dining and entertaining.
Popular material choices for bifold doors are timber or aluminium. Engineered timber is strong, durable with great insulating values and can be painted or stained whilst aluminium offers a contemporary, hard-wearing maintenance-free finish.
Image: Aluminium KustomSlide Mono doors, Kloeber
If it’s all about the view then a sliding door might be the best choice for you. Sliding doors open up by sliding the panels to one or both sides with the panes fitting behind each other on two, three or four tracks.
Sliding doors work well with larger apertures but unlike bifold doors, you can’t fully open up your home as there will always be a fixed panel so the maximum opening will be around 75%. However, when closed, those wider panes of glass allow you to take advantage of unadulterated views of your garden as your view isn’t impaired by the frame lines when shut.
Aluminium is the popular choice for those preferring slim-line frames and sleek, minimal styling but you can also purchase alu-clad sliding doors if a warmer internal aesthetic is preferred. With huge expanses of glass on offer, you need to consider the type of glass used. A south facing home would benefit from solar control glass and for a north facing home, low iron glass would help increase solar gain.
Image: ÜberSlide sliding doors, Kloeber
Attaining the best U-values can be hard as more heat will escape from an expanse of glass than from a wall so consider a high performing double glazed unit or ideally one with triple glazing. When choosing your doors, check how they fold, slide and seal between the panels and don’t be afraid to ask for thermal and weather testing reports, a reputable company will be able to provide these. If security is a key concern then look for Secured by Design and BSI certification. Also consider using laminated or safety glass and look out for PAS24 testing which ensures compliance with Part Q of the Building Regs for new builds.
The thermal performance of a bifold or sliding door is an important factor for most selfbuilders so bear in mind U-values have to be lower than 2 for a new build but ideally a quality, high performing glazed door should achieve a U-value of 1.2-1.4. As for weather tightness, drainage is key so the build detail is as important as the door system. A door should have gaskets that seal the sash to the frame and facility for water to drain away from the interior.
To summarise, if the view is your priority then a sliding door could be the best option. If opening up your home to the outdoors is important, then a bifold may be the door for you. Thermal performance is similar in both if you invest in a good quality door. Glazed doors are a major investment so consider the position of your home and how exposed it is to the elements and understand the product and how it will work with your project and lifestyle. Contact a reputable company and discuss your plans with an industry expert who can offer guidance.