Should I get folding/bi-folding or sliding doors for my home?

Here are the main considerations when deciding between folding or sliding doors:

Fully closed bifold folding doors SL 80 SL 81 in a period property in Wandsworth, London

When you are building an extension, upgrading patio doors or building a new home, you will naturally want to find stylish glazed doors that complement your interior whilst allowing you to better enjoy your outdoor space. But should you choose bi-folding or sliding doors – and what do you need to consider?

Bi-fold or folding doors

These modern glazed doors come in a range of different materials to suit every need, taste and budget, including timber, aluminium and composite. Timber tends to be popular with those looking for a more traditional finish or for eco-homes with an emphasis on natural interiors. Aluminium is increasingly popular with modern interiors and minimalist designs, especially in more urban spaces or in newer style homes with an architectural bias.

High quality aluminium bifold doors installed in an extension in South Bucks
Bi-Folding Door System

The primary advantage of bi-fold or sliding folding doors is that they can be opened completely to allow you a wholly unobstructed door opening. This is perfect in instances where you want to integrate your indoor and outdoor spaces, creating a seamless journey from interior to garden. If you want a totally open vista, then your door installation expert may well recommend bi-fold doors.

You can also install a single access door within your folding door. This is useful for daily use and can be included in many of the configurations available, offering all the benefits of stylish appearance with useful practicality. Additionally, folding doors can be designed with either weathered or flush tracks. Weathered tracks are popular when your property requires a step down to the exterior space, or when the site location will be exposed to the elements. Flush tracks are used when you need to create a level threshold with your garden and inside space. Your installation expert will be able to guide you and advise on the options that will work best with the space that you have available.

We tend to see that folding doors are chosen in period and more traditional homes, or where the opening is a little smaller. They are easy to open and then to leave secured in place. They are simply unparalleled on a bright warm day when you want to welcome the fresh air indoors and allow your family to move in and out without obstruction.

With bi-fold or sliding folding doors, there will inevitably be a considerable amount of manoeuvring of the system, as you choose to open up or close your home to the elements. It is crucial that you check with your chosen supplier that they use robust stainless steel runners for the glazing system, rather than the cheaper nylon alternatives which are simply not durable. Likewise, you will not want a cheaper system that rattles in heavy traffic or inclement weather. Make sure to ask for certificates to demonstrate the system’s performance – protection against driving rain, resistance to wind load and air permeability.

And, finally, where there is so much glass on display, inevitably security is an issue. Three-point locking systems are an absolute must and five points are even better. It goes without saying that glass should be toughened, and a minimum of 4mm thick.

Sliding doors

You will no doubt have seen sliding doors on modern architectural TV programmes, where they are very much on-trend for their ability to partition spaces and create flexible living zones. They tend to come in aluminium because it offers lightweight construction and exceptional strength.

Windows ODC 50 and aluminium sliding glass door ODC 300 installed in Radlett, Hertfordshire
A sliding door system

Why might you choose sliding doors? Because they offer large panel spaces that can each accommodate up to 4000mm, depending on the product specification. This means that you can keep the amount of visible frame to a minimum and really maximise the expanse of beautiful glass, creating an unobstructed view of your garden or landscape beyond. It’s important to note, however, that sliding doors will not typically offer a complete opening unless they can be engineered to slide into an integral pocket. Most installations will offer half to three-quarter opening space.

This type of glazed system is ideal if you want to be able to let in plenty of natural light or facilitate the view of outside. In our experience, customers who have attractive gardens or views from their home tend to opt for sliding doors, and they love the contemporary finish that they provide to the living space. They are also easy to open and offer fantastic access where this needs to be prioritised. Some of our customers with mobility issues love the ability to move seamlessly from home to outdoor space especially where pathways and access points are balanced for a smooth transition. Many of our customers also love to use their sliding doors in the colder months; simply allowing a little fresh air to circulate indoors and enjoying that sense of being connected with nature.

Modern systems can also be very slim indeed – even as slim as 34mm – so that your new doors are as unobtrusive as possible. Generally speaking, these door systems will be best placed for bigger spaces, where you want to create a modern finish and sweeping drama. For example, a suitable aperture would be perhaps five metres or more, and offer a two-third opening, in order to minimise sightlines when the door was closed and a clear, unobstructed view of the exterior when opened.

The next steps.

Contact us at ODC Door & Glass to find out more about the different door options available and your own particular needs. We can assess your space and your requirements in order to make an expert recommendation and to ensure that you will be delighted with your resulting glazed modern door system.