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Aluminum bi-fold doors—benefits, typical prices and how they compare to other materials

Bi-fold doors tend to come in three materials—aluminum, vinyl and wood (although it's possible, but not common, to find doors in steel).

This page looks at aluminum—specifically:

  • the main reasons for choosing aluminum bi-fold doors
  • how it compares with other materials
  • typical prices
  • FAQs, including common problems and options for aluminum cladding

Click a link below to jump to the relevant section:

Bi-fold door materials—what to think about

There are a number of things to consider when choosing the material for your bi-fold doors:

  • Strength—the frames must be able to support heavy glass panels. For some materials, this means wider frames—and narrower views.
  • Lifespan—some materials last longer than others. Extra finishes like powder coating or paint can make a big difference.
  • Maintenance—how much wear and tear will these exterior doors suffer over time? How often will you need to clean them? Will you have to repair or replace certain bi-fold door hardware?
  • Energy efficiency—will the doors keep your home warm and stop cold air getting in?
  • Configuration—are you able to configure them exactly how you want? Will they fit? Configuration means the number of panels you have on the door and which way they open (inward or outward, left or right and so on).
  • Colors and finishes—can you get doors in the look and style you favor?

Why choose aluminum doors?

Aluminum doors are extremely strong

Summary

  • Aluminum is very strong and is much less likely to warp due to changes in temperature.
  • Vinyl is durable, but can degrade in sunlight and is more likely to warp.
  • Wood is reasonably tough but can warp as it expands and contracts and allow water to leak in. Some wooden doors can be clad with aluminum for extra strength.

By design, bi-fold door frames must be able to support large (and heavy) panes of often toughened, tempered or laminated glass. Aluminum is so strong that the frames need only be slim to provide this support.

And the more glass making up the doors—essentially creating a glass wall—the more expansive the view onto gardens, patios or other outdoor spaces.

The frames must also be durable enough to take the wear and tear that comes with constant use, and withstand any bad weather.

High-quality aluminum bi-fold doors will be hurricane-proof and weatherproof. Look for doors which have passed High Velocity Hurricane Zone testing standards, meaning they can withstand the strongest wind and rain.

Why is aluminum so strong?

Aluminum gets its strength from its chemical composition and how it’s manufactured. It’s mixed with high-strength alloys and additives and processed in a way which inhibits the movement of its atoms. This makes the metal extremely strong.

Aluminum doors have a durable, scratch-proof finish

Summary

  • The best aluminum doors have a scratch-proof powder coating, paint or anodized finish, making them very durable.
  • Vinyl doors are typically colored using a laminate foil, which is much less resistant to wear.
  • Wooden doors are only powder coated if finished with aluminum cladding. Otherwise they are painted and varnished.

Powder coating is the process of applying a dry powdered paint then heating it in an oven at extremely high temperatures so it hardens and forms a durable coating.

This tough powder coating ensures doors last for decades, and is available in numerous colors and finishes, meaning you can choose an exact shade for your aluminum bi-folds.

Aluminum doors need very little maintenance

Summary

  • Aluminum doors need only a quick clean every so often.
  • Vinyl doors are low-maintenance but difficult to restore once discolored from dirt, mold or sunlight.
  • Wooden doors must be maintained regularly to keep their condition.

Aluminum bi-fold doors are easy to maintain and need only occasional cleaning. Each of the folding panels has just a frame and a pane of glass, which you should wipe down every now and again to keep them looking their best.

Use light, soapy water (dishwashing liquids or solvent-based cleaning products aren’t recommended) and a non-abrasive cloth to wipe dirt from the doors. Don’t use abrasive cloths (such as scouring pads) as these can scratch the doors.

Use a small brush to loosen any debris from the tracks, and then vacuum this up. Try not to allow debris to build up in the tracks as this will affect how smoothly the doors open and close.

Aluminum doors are available in black, white and many other colors and finishes

Summary

  • Aluminum doors come in a wide range of colors and finishes, including wood grain.
  • Vinyl doors were once available only in white, but now come in a few different colors, depending on the manufacturer.
  • Wooden doors can be painted in most colors.

Aluminum bi-fold doors can be powder coated in a wide variety of colors, whether it’s the traditional black or white, a more modern gray or a contemporary bright color.

Many manufacturers use the industry-standard RAL color chart, which has a range of over 150 tones and shades, including different wood-grain finishes.

Origin also uses the Kynar 500® & Hylar 5000® ranges of coatings and finishes.

Some door manufacturers create their own color palettes, mixing shades based on a particular theme. This makes it easier for you to choose colors that complement your décor or provide a bold contrast according to your individual style.

Popular colors

Black is another classic color for bi-fold doors. It matches a wide range of color schemes used for interior décor. You can also choose a very dark gray or deep navy if a jet-black finish will be too strong.

White is neutral, and hugely popular, and can give a room a lightness that gray or black can’t.

Bronze is an extremely attractive color, used to convey strength and longevity and to give a property a feeling of character, luxury and prestige.

Wood-grain finishes

Wood-grain colors let you achieve the look of wooden doors but with none of their problems, and all the benefits of aluminum—for example, no maintenance, no expansion in hot weather and no warping.

The finish is applied through a special process.

  • The aluminum is powder coated with a base color and then wrapped in film to create a vacuum, which allows the paint to stick to the frame more effectively.
  • It’s then heated to a high temperature, which transfers the ink on the film to the metal, creating the wood-grain effect.
  • Once the aluminum has cooled, the film is removed, leaving a finish that looks like natural wood.

Read our bi-fold doors color guide

Aluminum doors are energy efficient

Summary

  • Aluminum doors are very energy efficient—some doors can lower energy bills by an average of 12%.
  • Vinyl doors vary greatly between manufacturers—some are good at preventing air from getting in and out, others aren’t.
  • Wooden doors are reasonably energy efficient, but if warped are prone to letting in drafts.

The best-quality aluminum folding door systems typically incorporate a thermal break—a section of plastic that separates the aluminum frame into two pieces. It acts as a barrier, restricting the flow of heat through the door.

With this thermal break in place, the doors keep your home better insulated and lower your energy bills as a result.

And because of their strength, aluminum bi-fold doors can be fitted with glass options such as double or even triple glazing, whose thickness helps make your home even more thermally efficient.

Read more about thermal efficiency

Aluminum doors can be configured in many different layouts

Summary

  • Aluminum doors are the most flexible in terms of layout—can be custom-made to fit unusually sized and shaped openings.
  • Vinyl and wooden doors come in fewer configurations than aluminum doors.

Aluminum bi-fold doors can be configured so that:

  • all panels open the same way
  • some panels open one way and some the other (for example, if you have a seven-panel door, four could open to the left and three could open to the right)

You can also decide whether your folding glass doors open:

  • inward—meaning the doors will need room to open and fold back into your living space
  • outward—meaning the doors open into your garden, patio or other outdoor area

And since aluminum is a very flexible material, it can be manufactured in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Suppliers of high-quality bi-fold or folding patio doors usually offer doors made to measure, meaning you specify the exact size you need and they make the doors according to the dimensions you provide.

The number of panels you need will depend on the size of opening you have to fill. There are aluminum bi-fold doors in configurations of single doors, three-panel doors, four-panel doors, all the way up to 10-panel doors. The range is huge.

Aluminum is also ideal for corner bi-folds, where two walls of the home are removed and replaced with doors. Find out more about corner bi-folds on this page.

Read more about bi-fold door configurations

What do aluminum bi-fold doors cost?

Summary

  • Aluminum bi-fold doors are often more expensive than vinyl doors.
  • Wooden bi-fold doors are typically the most expensive.
  • Aluminum bi-fold doors tend to cost more than French doors or sliding doors in the same material.

Although aluminum bi-fold doors are often more expensive than vinyl, they are less costly than wooden bi-fold doors. And because they last much longer than both alternatives, they can be considered better value for money.

Aluminum bi-fold doors—typical prices

The table below shows some common configurations and prices for Origin’s aluminum bi-fold doors.

3-Door Bi-Fold

4-Door Bi-Fold

Options

Colors

  • Jet Black
  • Patio White
  • Southern Bronze

Direction in which the doors open

  • Left
  • Right

Glazing

  • Insulated glass

Sizes and prices

  • 108” wide x 80” high — $8,000–$8,250
  • 108” wide x 96” high — $8,500–$8,750
  • 144” wide x 80” high — $9,250
  • 144” wide x 96” high — $9,500

Options

Colors

  • Jet Black
  • Patio White
  • Southern Bronze

Direction in which the doors open

  • Left
  • Right

Glazing

  • Insulated glass

Sizes and prices

  • 144” wide x 80” high — $10,500–$10,750
  • 144” wide x 96” high — $11,000

5-Door Bi-Fold

6-Door Bi-Fold

Options

Colors

  • Jet Black
  • Patio White
  • Southern Bronze

Direction in which the doors open

  • Left
  • Right

Glazing

  • Insulated glass

Sizes and prices

  • 144” wide x 80” high — $12,000–$12,250
  • 144” wide x 96” high — $12,500–$12,750
  • 180” wide x 80” high — $13,000–$13,250
  • 180” wide x 96” high — $13,500

Options

Colors

  • Jet Black
  • Patio White
  • Southern Bronze

Direction in which the doors open

  • Left
  • Right

Glazing

  • Insulated glass

Sizes and prices

  • 180” wide x 80” high — $14,250–$14,500
  • 180” wide x 96” high — $14,500–$15,000
  • 216” wide x 80” high — $15,000
  • 216” wide x 96” high — $15,750

FAQs

What are aluminum clad doors?

It’s possible to buy wooden bi-fold doors that come cladded with a layer of aluminum. The idea is that the cladding gives the doors all of the benefits of both wood and aluminum—good energy efficiency, strength etc.—while protecting the wood from weather damage. They also tend to be slightly cheaper in price than aluminum doors.

However, although wooden doors are said to perform better with aluminum cladding than without, they are still no substitute for bi-fold doors made solely of aluminum.

What are the common problems with aluminum bi-fold doors?

Most bi-fold doors are high-quality, custom-made products that should always be installed by professionals with the proper knowledge and expertise. However, sometimes things do go wrong.

While there aren’t really any problems associated with aluminum as a material, aluminum bi-fold doors can suffer the same issues as doors in vinyl or wood.

Related content

Bi-fold door features—what they are and how they can benefit your home

The Origin Bi-Fold Door—design and engineering features that make our door different

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