Folding Sliding DoorsMohamed Bedawy
The huge growth in demand for folding sliding doors over the last two or three years has led to a rapid increase in the choice of door systems available for the consumer. Also referred to as bi fold doors, bi folding doors, multi fold doors and concertina doors they are best known as folding sliding doors because of the opening action itself. This type of door can provide unobstructed openings of up to 6 metres and sometime more as the panels simply fold, slide and stack neatly to one side or both sides of the aperture.
Folding sliding doors are an ideal replacement for existing French or sliding patio doors where they can literally transform the existing opening and open up the room to the outside. This type of bi folding door is now becoming the most sought after door style for new build and home extensions whilst also proving a popular upgrade choice for homeowners adding a conservatory to their property due to their ability to seamlessly merge the new conservatory with the garden effectively bringing the outside inside.
Although the original concept of a folding sliding door dates back over 100 years where they were often used for closing off small storage areas today’s folding sliding doors are designed to be high performance energy efficient patio doors using the latest innovative insulation features in both door and glazing construction.
Folding sliding doors not only allow wider unobstructed apertures but the increased glass area allows huge flows of natural light to enter the home from the outside which during the colder months will provide efficient use of solar gain to minimise heating costs. Doors are available in a choice of materials including timber, aluminium and PVC-u together with a choice of colours and finishes that will enhance any home.
You can choose from a number of engineered timber folding sliding doors including softwood or hardwoods such as Meranti and European Oak. Timber is normally engineered or laminated to ensure it is structurally resistant to warping or twisting and doors are normally available with either a factory applied translucent stain or RAL colour paint finish.
As timber is a natural insulator timber folding sliding doors offer the most energy efficient solution when combined with high performance double glazing offering U values as low as 1.4.
Timber folding doors usually provide slim sight lines as the individual door panels are normally hinged off each other without the use of additional mullions between each panel and therefore maximising visible glass areas.
Timber is a natural sustainable material that is very energy efficient but will require regular maintenance over the life time of the door to maintain their stain or paint finish.
Aluminium folding sliding doors are normally manufactured from durable, strong thermally broken aluminium profiles that have specifically been designed for the purpose. These systems have been in use for several years in both domestic and commercial installations such as restaurants and hotels.
Most systems utilise bottom rolling gear so all the weight is carried at the bottom with guide rollers at the top and panels are often connected to sliding and floating mullions which help ensure the door operates smoothly and effortlessly.
Aluminum is a popular choice for this type of folding door as it is virtually maintenance free, hard wearing and good looking. Aluminum folding sliding doors are available in over 200 different RAL paint finishes which can usually be specified in your choice of matt, silk or gloss finish. It is also possible to specify dual colours with a different colour internally and externally.
Also referred to as plastic or PVC-u folding sliding doors this type of door is relatively new in the market place when compared to aluminum or timber. Due to its comparative low cost uPVC door manufacturers have quickly adapted their existing uPVC door profiles to create bi folding doors in response to an increasingly growing market that required a more affordable folding door system. uPVC folding sliding doors can be substantially cheaper than their aluminum or timber counterparts but there is often a trade-off in design elements that can sometimes compromise the quality of the product.
Adapting bulky wide uPVC steel reinforced profiles that were originally designed for traditional hinged external doors meant glass sight lines were considerably reduced and the doors used ugly face fixed hinges and exposed gearing which also sometimes posed a security hazard.
However, some manufacturers have started to introduce the next generation of uPVC folding doors using slimmer profiles and concealed gearing that compare favourably with those of timber and aluminium. Heavy steel profile reinforcement is starting to be replaced by lighter yet stronger recycled composite material that is also much more energy efficient.