Should I choose bi-folding or sliding doors?

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Earlier this year, we carried out a poll on our Instagram page asking whether people preferred bi-folding or sliding doors and the result was 50:50. A few years ago bi-folding doors would have been the clear runner, with sliding doors struggling to shake of their 1970s image. However, now with the impressive sliding doors that we see installed in so many wonderful renovations, they are really making a comeback. 

So if you can't decide whether to choose aluminium bi-folding or sliding doors for your new extension, we chat about some of the key things to consider to help you decide which is best for your home!


Consider the cost

The difference in cost is more driven by the specification rather than the one option being more significantly more expensive than the other.

Tim Hedges, Managing Director of ODC Door & Glass Systems, says, ‘"In terms of the cost difference between bifolds and sliding doors, it really depends on the range of systems you are interested in. Standard sliding doors for example, such as our ODC300 range, would be slightly less expensive than our equivalent bifolding door range, the ODC121, because they have fewer moving parts. However, if you have your heart set on a slim framed sliding door, such as our Cero or SL320, then these would be more expensive, because the aluminium profile needs to be much stronger to support the weight of the glass and they also tend to be bonded products which adds additional expense."


Stunning sliding doors by ODC Door & Glass Systems


Make the most of a good view all year round

Top of the range sliding doors can measure as much as 3 metres in height and 3 metres in width, allowing the maximum view when your doors are closed. This is compared to bi-folding doors where the standard width is between 1 - 1.2 metres wide. So if you want to make the most of your view all year round and can't decide between bi-folding or sliding doors, sliding doors will give you the best lookout. This is really worth thinking about if you have an amazing view that you want to make the most of.

For both sliding and bi-folding doors you can choose slim frames to reduce sitelines, so it's worth paying for the slimmest frames that your budget will allow for either bi-folding and sliding doors.

Beautiful minimal framed sliding doors - extension by Pad Architects



Integrate your home and garden

One of the main advantages about bi-folding doors is being able to open up a wall of doors and integrate your home and garden. You will never have as full an opening with sliding doors as you would with bi-folding doors, which might be frustrating during the summer months.

Being able to open a whole wall of glass works particularly well with smaller spaces where you really want to extend your living space into the garden as much as possible, making your home feel much more spacious than it is.

A huge area in opens up seamlessly with the garden - design by Architect Your Home


Do you want to be flexible with the opening?

One of the benefits of sliding doors is that you can open them up slightly, just to let a breeze in your home or for children to run in and out in the cooler months. With bi-folding doors you would have to open up one door at least to access outside, so they are less flexible.

Extension with large sliding doors by Simon Merrony Architects



What is the size of your opening?

If the space you have is less than four metres wide, then bi-folding doors are probably the best option. With openings of this size, bi-folding doors look much more impressive than sliding doors due to the larger opening, creating a real wow-factor and transforming the space completely.

Sliding doors are ideal for larger openings to really maximise the larger expanse of glass when closed.

Bifolding doors look good in this smaller opening - extension by Lost and Found Architects



Do you have the space to stack bi-folding doors?

Although bi-folding doors allow you a clear opening, you still need somewhere to stack the doors. You can choose either outside or inside, but either way be mindful that they may provide an obstacle, particularly if you have young children running around. Stacking doors works well if you have a wall lying at 90° to your doors - that way they won't get in the way.

In contrast, although sliding doors allow only a two-thirds opening, they don't fold back and therefore save on the space either inside or outside of your home.

Sliding doors in this extension by The Gentleman Architect


Published: May 7, 2020


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