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Bi-fold door myths busted: technology and design advances address homeowners’ top concerns

Despite being designed to bring light and a clearer view of the outdoors into people’s homes, there’s an apparent lack of clarity around the many other benefits bi-fold doors can offer.

The findings of a recent survey carried out by Origin US revealed almost a third of homeowners (31.8%) are concerned bi-fold doors wouldn’t suit the décor of their property.

A further 19.2% believe the shape of their room wouldn’t accommodate bi-fold doors, while others (16.6%) perceive the doors to be difficult to maintain.

However, these misconceptions are easily alleviated thanks to innovations in design and technology, which allow bi-fold doors to blend with any style or age of home and fit even awkwardly shaped spaces.

Safety emerged as the primary concern for a small group of US homeowners (15%), while some doubted the doors’ thermal efficiency (13.6%).

But in reality the best-quality doors — manufactured with aluminum and high-performance glass and installed by professionals — can actually help to lower your energy bills.

The survey findings appear to highlight a general lack of knowledge and understanding about bi-fold doors, particularly since some of the latest designs and innovations provide direct solutions to these very concerns. It seems they simply need to be brought into the public consciousness.

Allaying fears about bi-fold doors: in summary

ConcernSolution

Wouldn’t suit my home décor

Modern aluminum bi-fold doors are available in a range of colors and finishes, including woodgrain effect. They also have incredibly thin frames, meaning your view of the outdoors is maximized.

Wouldn’t fit the shape of my room

Aluminum bi-fold doors are very flexible, meaning complex layouts can be accommodated.

Hard to maintain

High-quality aluminum bi-fold doors are powder-coated, which adds strength and protects against scratches and fading color, removing the need for periodic painting and maintenance.

I don’t think they’re safe

Aluminum bi-fold doors can be designed with safety features such as finger-safe gaskets and a level threshold, which prevent trapped fingers and falls.

Not thermally efficient

Aluminum bi-fold doors with a thermal break are incredibly thermally efficient, with a low U-factor. They can also be triple-glazed.

Seamless blend

Let’s take the idea that bi-fold doors may not suit the décor of your home, for example. Although, historically, such doors have been manufactured using uPVC or timber (both of which can look out of place in certain styles of home) the advent of high-quality aluminum frames in recent years has revolutionized the aesthetic that can be achieved.

Because it’s such a strong and durable material, high-quality aluminum is effective even in small quantities. This means, when used for bi-fold doors, the frames need only to be very thin, maximizing the amount of glass — and therefore the outdoor views — that can be seen.

In addition, all good manufacturers of aluminum bi-fold doors will offer frames in a variety of colors, including an authentic woodgrain effect that blends with even the most traditional décor. But a contemporary contrast is becoming increasingly desirable too, with sleek, jet black proving a highly popular choice among US homeowners.

Tailor-made

Another common concern the survey outlined was that not all homes have a shape or layout that lends itself to bi-fold doors. However, the beauty of modern aluminum doors is they can be custom-designed and made for any space; they can even be fitted in the corner of a room.

In fact, you can specify everything from the size of individual door panels to the number of doors, to the configuration and the direction in which the doors open. And, of course, there are the finer details, such as the handle style and the color of the internal and external frames — all of which can be selected to suit your home.

Removing the effort

Maintenance was also a consideration for some. However, this is perhaps the biggest misconception surrounding modern bi-fold doors and is likely a result of the shortfalls of other materials. The uPVC that we see so frequently on windows and external doors, for example, is relatively cheap and therefore prone to fading and discoloration, whether you take steps to maintain it or not. And with timber, regular cleaning and care is required to keep the wood looking fresh and to prevent rotting.

However, the strength and weight of high-grade aluminum means the material expands and contracts very little under different weather conditions and therefore makes it a long-lasting choice for bi-fold doors. In addition, if you look for powder-coated aluminum — which signifies it’s been treated with a very fine, powdered paint and then cured to achieve a smooth, robust finish — the only maintenance needed will be occasional cleaning with soapy water and a cloth.

Safety first

Naturally, family safety is a priority when it comes to making home improvements, so it’s unsurprising that it emerged as a concern among the public. Fortunately, aluminum bi-fold doors made to a high standard offer a number of solutions. Look out for finger-safe gaskets, for example, which help prevent fingers becoming trapped between folding door panels. Magnets on the lead door can also make sure the system is held securely in place when in use. Finally, if you’re concerned about trip hazards then you can always opt for a non-weathered threshold, which means there is no step between indoors and out.

Most bi-fold door mechanisms feature rollers at the top of the doors. But with Origin’s products, the rollers are placed on a track at the bottom, which is safely encased and allows smooth operation. You can find out more about the benefits of bottom-run bi-fold doors here.

Security needn't be a worry, either: just make sure you opt for bi-fold doors with a robust locking system built in. At Origin our eight-point locking system uses chamber 13/16-inch (20mm) linear bolts at the top and bottom of the doors. Combined with one-inch deep (25mm) security hooks, high-security hinges and exceptionally strong aluminum frames, you can be sure your family is safe at all times.

Keeping heat in

If you’re concerned that replacing most, or all, of a wall in your home with glass will result in heat loss, don’t be. Bi-fold doors manufactured with aluminum and high-performance glass and installed by professionals can actually help to reduce your energy bills. For reassurance, look at the U-factor of bi-fold doors to find out how insulating they are: the lower the U-factor, the more thermally efficient the doors.

For example, Origin Bi-fold Doors feature a polyamide thermal break, which allows it to achieve a U-factor of 0.34 on double-glazed panels and 0.27 on triple-glazed panels. These bi-folds can actually help to reduce your energy bills by an average of 12% — keeping you cool in summer and warmer in winter.

While the common concerns surrounding bi-fold doors are likely to be a symptom of decades of low-performing, poorly installed products, many consumers are beginning to see the doors’ aesthetic and functional benefits. And as accessibility to nature becomes an ambition amid increasingly busy schedules, many more people are opening their minds — and their homes — to the joy of the outdoors.

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