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Bi-fold Doors vs Sliding Doors vs French Doors

If you’re looking to bring more light into your home then bi-fold, French and sliding doors will let natural light flood into your property, as well as offering a better view, and improved access to your patio. After deciding to replace your existing glass doors, you will need to choose which type of doors are best for your home.

Your three options are:

  • Bi-fold doors – These doors have multiple panes which, when folded back, fully open up the room. Bi-fold doors are often called glass walls or folding glass doors.
  • Sliding doors – Sliding doors comprise two or more large panes of glass which slide behind each other.
  • French doors – These traditional patio doors feature two doors which open out in a similar way to a regular back or front door.

Below, we compare the pros and cons of each of these doors.

Bi-fold Doors vs Sliding Doors vs French Doors

Compare by:

View

Bi-fold Doors

Sliding Doors

French Doors

  • When open, bi-folds offer uninterrupted panoramic views by fully opening up an entire wall of your home
  • Although the frames are slim, when shut they still break up the view
  • Offer widescreen views by replacing an entire wall of your home with glass
  • Even when closed, these doors offer excellent views as they normally only have a frame around two panes of glass 
  • As one door slides behind the other, the central frame always interrupts the view, even when open
  • Usually comprised of two doors in a traditional size and shape frame, so the expanse of glass is relatively small and a whole wall can't be replaced with these doors
  • Offer a better view than windows or a single door but the view is nowhere near as expansive as sliding or bi-fold doors

View is similar to sliding doors when closed, but are the only doors to offer a completely uninterrupted view when open.

Offer a similar view whether the doors are closed or open. Sliding doors don’t offer an uninterrupted view as one door slides behind the other, so the central frame can't be moved.

French doors offer a more restricted view as they don’t open as wide as the other doors.

Cost

Bi-fold doors

Sliding doors

French doors

  • High quality bi-fold doors will generally be more expensive than sliding doors and French doors
  • Price is affected by the number of door leaves required and the size of the aperture
  • Aluminum bi-fold door frames cost between $1,400–$1,800 per door leaf
  • A mid-range product that can be bought 'off the shelf' rather than being made bespoke, depending on the manufacturer
  • Expect to pay $2,200–$2,900 for uPVC doors including labor and materials
  • Small size means they are the most affordable option
  • Two uPVC French doors will cost around $2,000–$2,800 and cost around $450 extra for timber

The most expensive option for glass doors. uPVC bi-folds are cheaper than aluminum but don’t offer anywhere near the same quality.

Mid-range option for glass doors.

Most affordable option for glass doors.

Property suitability

Bi-fold doors

Sliding doors

French doors

  • Often chosen for modern properties or new builds as they offer a contemporary look and are ideal for properties built for indoor-outdoor living. However, bi-folds are increasingly being used in traditional properties
  • Wide range of powder–coated finishes available– including wood grains– means they can be finished to suit different property styles
  • Modern design means they are best suited to contemporary properties
  • Can look out of place in older properties, especially if uPVC is used
  • Best suited to more traditional style properties such as Cape Cod, Colonial or Craftsman styles
  • Multiple options for frames and glass styles available

A great option for both modern and more traditional properties.

Generally not suitable for more traditional properties due to modern design.

Suitable for older-style properties but range of finishes available means they can also work with modern homes.

Configuration

Bi-fold doors

Sliding doors

French doors

  • Multiple configuration options available, typically from one to eight or more doors
  • Door leaves can be configured to buyer’s specification, including opening in one direction, inward or outward, or opening in the middle
  • Can be installed into bays and corner openings
  • Options are more limited than bi-folds; one door can slide over the other, or both doors can open in the center and slide out over fixed panels
  • Can't be installed into bays
  • Same configuration as a standard front or back door–the two doors are side hung to open outwards or inwards
  • Can be installed into bays

Multiple configuration options available.

Just two options: one door slides over the other, or both doors slide out from the middle.

Limited configuration options as they work like traditional doors.

Threshold

Bi-fold doors

Sliding doors

French doors

  • Available with a level threshold, meaning the inside and outside are on the same level, creating a seamless transition between inside and out
  • Level threshold recommended for internal or covered areas
  • Weathered threshold creates a very small step but offers complete protection against the elements
  • Drainage solutions prevent water from pooling in front of doors
  • Only offers a weathered threshold option for total weather protection
  • Not available with a level threshold so the bottom of the door frame creates a small lip that must be stepped over
  • The traditional door frame means the bottom of the frame creates a lip between inside and outside that must be stepped over

Only doors that can offer a level threshold, creating a seamless transition between indoors and outdoors.

No level threshold available.

Normal door frame which separates outside from inside.

Hurricane testing

 It’s important to have the peace of mind that your new doors will stand up to the extreme weather experienced during the hurricane season. No one style of door is safer than another when it comes to protection from hurricanes, so it’s vital that you check what hurricane protection is offered by the bi-fold doors, sliding doors and French doors you are interested in.

Origin’s bi-fold doors pass Florida’s High Velocity Hurricane Zone testing standards, which means they are designed to withstand extreme pressure, high winds and water. They also provide protection from wind-borne debris.

Find out more

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