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Bi-fold doors security and safety FAQs

Installing any external doors—whether bi-fold doors, sliding doors or French doors—means taking safety and security features into consideration.

High quality bi-fold doors have various features that make them safe to operate and keep the property secure against potential break-ins. On this page, we cover some of these features and explain how door manufacturers such as Origin design and produce their bi-folds with safety and security in mind.

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How bi-fold doors keep homes secure

For residential exterior doors, security is paramount. Any set of doors made by a reputable door company will have been designed and manufactured in a way that makes security a top priority.

High quality bi-fold doors are equipped with a wide range of innovative security features and hardware that deters intruders. We cover each of these features below.

A secure, durable door lock

Depending on the product or model, bi-fold doors will use any of the following types of lock:

Cylinder lock

Inside this kind of lock is a cylinder that runs through the center of the lock and into the door. Inside the cylinder is a pin-and-tumbler mechanism that can only be manipulated with the correctly shaped key. Without the right key, the pins won’t move and enable the lock to turn.

More sophisticated cylinder locks work via magnetic coding, requiring a special key to turn magnetized rotors inside the barrel.

Good-quality cylinder locks go through strict testing procedures to make sure they will be able to withstand common housebreaking techniques such as picking, bumping, drilling or snapping.

Deadbolts

Deadbolts extend about one inch into the door frame and are engaged using a key or a thumbturn knob. Most deadbolts use a cylinder lock, and so engage (or release) when the tumbler inside the cylinder turns to the proper position and the pins align.

Generally, there are three types of deadbolt:

  • Single cylinder—key cylinder on the outside of the door, thumbturn on the inside
  • Double cylinder— interior and exterior key cylinder
  • Lockable thumbturn—thumbturn on the inside that can be locked with a key

Shootbolt lock

Designed for folding doors, this type of lock is operated by turning the door handle. As the handle rotates, it engages concealed locks at the top and bottom of the door panel and fixes the doors in place.

Dropbolt lock

Typically used as an auxiliary lock rather than a main lock, a dropbolt lock works via an interlocking mechanism. The body of the lock and the strike plate lock together with special pins, similar to a hinge.

Multi-point locking system

Most bi-fold doors have a multi-point locking system as standard. These systems secure the doors at a number of different points around the frame and track. How many points depends on the product or model of door.

Five-point locking systems are fairly common. These generally have:

  • two hook bolts at the top and bottom of the door frame
  • a latch and a deadbolt in the center of the door
  • two other locking points around the frame

Origin Bi-Fold Doors, however, incorporate a unique 8-point locking system, which consists of the above features plus the following:

  • 8 inch shoot bolts in the top and bottom tracks—these are chamfered (cut so their corners are angled) to make moving the doors a much smoother action
  • 1-inch deep-throw security hooks

For peace of mind, always look for bi-fold doors that, like Origin’s products:

  • meet all the latest security standards
  • have passed the Testing Application Standard (TAS) 202 building regulations

High-security hinges

As hinges sit on the doors' exterior, they must be as secure as they possibly can be. Otherwise, they can be a point of vulnerability for housebreakers to exploit.

Look for special security hinges made of a strong metal such as zinc. Security hinges are designed and manufactured to prevent the doors being lifted off from outside, and have special bolts and screws that help provide this protection. They are also better at withstanding bad weather without suffering wear or damage.

A strong handle

Locks are often regarded as the vulnerable part of a door, but ensuring the handle is able to stand up to attacks from potential housebreakers is just as important. A weak handle is very easy for a burglar to exploit.

A strong door handle is one that has:

  • a solid-cast body secured with hardened bolts
  • a cylinder guard to encase the lock and prevent lock snapping
  • a cylinder shield that rotates, to protect against lock drilling
  • a backplate with contoured edges, to stop thieves removing the handle with mole-grips or clamps
  • flexing ball joints that prevent fixing screws from being sheared or snapped off

The strongest handles will have been put through rigorous testing to show they can withstand hundreds of pounds of brute force without giving way, and resist the corrosive effects of certain types of inclement weather.

How bi-fold doors keep homes safe

While security is one of the primary considerations when selecting a set of bi-fold doors, safety is also hugely important. The best bi-fold doors come equipped with features that ensure families with young children, and wheelchair users or people with disabilities, can use and operate them safely.

Some of these features include the following:

Low thresholds for wheelchair access

Bi-fold doors open and close by sliding along a track known as a threshold. There are two types of threshold:

  • Weathered—standing roughly half an inch off the floor, this threshold is raised to provide a watertight seal and prevent any leaks
  • Non-weathered—sunken into the floor, this threshold ensures the inside surface is flush with the ground outside. This means it isn’t as weathertight as a weathered threshold.

While both thresholds are wheelchair-friendly, the non-weathered threshold might also be best for households in which there are:

  • toddlers or young children
  • older people
  • people with mobility issues, who may be at risk of trips and falls

Our bi-fold door threshold FAQs explain door thresholds in greater detail.

Hurricane protection

Some regions of the US are particularly prone to hurricanes. In these areas, it’s recommended to install bi-fold doors that have passed High Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ) testing.

These doors use locking mechanisms that protect your home against hurricane winds, strong rain, flying debris and the extremes in air pressure that can occur in hurricane weather and cause walls and roofs to cave in.

It’s also prudent to install doors that have both laminated glass and a weathered threshold.

Child-proof gaskets

Unfortunately, young children need only a second to escape the attentions of their parents and catch their fingers in the door.

Many bi-fold doors are designed to mitigate the risk of this happening by incorporating special child-proof “finger-safe” gaskets. These gaskets have soft cushioning that make it far less painful if a child traps their fingers between the sliding door panels.

Safety glass

Because bi-fold doors consist mainly of glass, for safety and security reasons the glass must be particularly strong and shatterproof. Toughened (tempered) glass—whether used as double or triple glazing—usually comes as standard, although laminated glass is another common option.

Glazing beads hold the glass in place, and prevent the panes from being removed from the outside, providing better security.

Toughened glass

Toughened glass is made by heating ordinary glass to very high temperatures then rapidly cooling it. This process hardens the glass and makes it up to five times stronger. Although it’s much less likely to break as a result of this process, if it were to break it would shatter into small, blunt pieces rather than long, sharp shards.

Laminated glass

Laminated glass is made by sandwiching a layer of plastic between two thin glass panels using heat and pressure. The plastic bonds the two panes together, and holds the glass in place if the pane is broken.

It’s considered a safer option than toughened glass as its layered structure gives it an extra thickness that makes it more shock-resistant and enables it to better withstand damage.

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