[SHORT GUIDE] UK Aluminium Bifold Doors vs Aluminium Sliding Doors - Which is best?
For much of the last 10-15 years, aluminium bifold doors have been the popular choice with consumers choosing doors and glazing for their new home extension. In the last 5 years there's been a resurgence of aluminium sliding patio doors, and for good reason.
Advantages of Aluminium Bifold Doors
- Aluminium is a premium quality material - it's by far the most popular material for bifold doors.
- Aesthetically pleasing. Bi-fold doors make your home look modern and slick on the outside and provide a luxurious addition overall. You can choose from a range of styles and over 200 colours to either match the rest of your home or stand out to make a statement.
- Flexibility allows you to open your bifolds to any width within the frame and customise where the leaves/panels are split. The doors can be designed to be folded away to the left or right.
- Flood your home with natural light. When open, your bifolds allow maximum sunlight into your home turning a normally dark room into a space full of life where you want to spend more time.
- Outside/Inside living. With bi-fold doors you don’t need to physically be outside to feel that sense of freedom, as unlike conventional sliding doors they fold right back meaning there is greater space. You experience the comfort of being indoors while being able to enjoy your outdoor space.
- Low maintenance. Like most other windows and glass doors, bifold doors require cleaning regularly with detergent to ensure they stay looking spotless. But as they don’t have multiple panes or frames they’re generally easier to clean than most, and other than that you can just sit back and enjoy them.
- Security. A greater level of security is offered with bi-fold doors as they feature multi-point locking systems, internally beaded frames and high-security hinges.
- Take up little space. When bi-fold doors are open they take up very little space meaning they cause virtually no disturbance to your home’s natural flow. Unlike sliding patio doors which must slide behind another window or door; bi-fold doors collapse to 90 degrees stacking on themselves offering the benefit of opening up your wall completely.
- Integral bifold door blinds - glass size is smaller so can have integrated blinds between the glass of the double glazed sealed units.
- Up to 1200mm width - Depending on the manufacturer, Origin for example, you can go 1200mm wide per door.
- Cheaper - Bifold doors are usually cheaper than sliding doors.
- Can provide a better wind rating in some cases in large doors in exposed areas
Disadvantages of Aluminium Bifold Doors
- Wider frames - When they are closed you will get lots of frame as each pane of glass has its own frame, this can cause a slightly obstructed view. This can be minimised by choosing a thin frame.
- Door stack could be intrusive - Creates a stack to one side when open, this could be intrusive and limit space dependant on location.
- Not as energy-efficient - More frame can sometimes negatively affect U-value.
Let's take a look at how bifolds compare to sliding doors.
Advantages of Aluminium Sliding Doors
- An illusion of space. If you’re looking to open up your home, then sliding doors could be the perfect answer.
- Uninterrupted views - Choosing sliding doors allows you to have bigger doors, meaning bigger panes of glass to bring 'more of the outside in' when the doors are closed.
- Take up less space - Sliding doors don't take up any space inside or outside your home when they're open - unlike bifold doors which open inward or outward. Bifold doors can temporarily block off small parts of your patio when open, or act as an obstacle for young children.
- More glass with thinner frames - Sliding patio doors usually have a thinner frame than bifold doors (depending on the product manufacturer).
- Easy to operate. High tech rolling systems mean even the biggest doors glide using one hand.
- Manoeuvrable - If you go for a 'Lift and Slide' sliding door system you can open the door partially and lock it in place to give you ventilation whilst being in the home.
- Energy-efficient - Sliding doors will often achieve a better U-value as there is more glass and less frame.
- Low maintenance. Like most other windows and glass doors, sliding doors require cleaning regularly with detergent to ensure they stay looking spotless. But as they don’t have multiple panes or frames they’re generally easier to clean than most, and other than that, you can just sit back and enjoy them. There is very little that can go wrong with a sliding door.
Disadvantages of Aluminium Sliding Doors
- Triple track sliding doors allow you to open two-thirds of the door, but there will always be at least one panel that can’t open.
- There isn’t the option of having a lead door or traffic door with sliding doors. Some people like to have a door that will swing open if needed.
- Track width can be quite large
- The largest sliding doors in exposed areas may need a strengthening bar which can add to the sightlines.