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Fitting new thermally efficient double glazed bi-folding and sliding doors in the UK is certainly a gamble when it comes to the weather, but there are some configurations that are operationally better than others. The clue is in the name “bi-fold”. The key thing with bi-folding doors is to remember that each “pair” of bi-folds, opens and closes in tandem, so each section cannot operate individually, as each bi-fold section (2 panes) are in-effect one. As these two folding door sections are permanently linked together (folding up flat against one another) they cannot accommodate a normal door handle, nor can one of these two pane sections operate as a travel door without the other section opening or closing at the same time.
As a result, if a property owner wants to have a single travel door as part of their bi-folding door configuration, they really need to have an odd number of sections, namely 3, 5 or 7 panes etc.
Due to the nature of their operation only high quality bi-folding doors will last the course, as they are highly technical bits of kit, so it is vital when purchasing double glazed bi-folding doors, to invest in products robust enough to still be fully operational in ten years time when the guarantee runs out and the homeowner is left to foot the bills for all the call-out charges, parts and labour to get the folding doors operational again.
Consequently, it is worth asking why some established UK independent double glazing manufacturers and installers who supply and fit front doors, back doors, French doors and sliding patio doors in both aluminium and UPVC, refuse to touch PVCU bi-folding doors. Could it be they are not fit for purpose? As a material UPVC (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) flexes, so is not an ideal product to use for bi-folding doors that need to operate rigidly as one, and not be in any danger of slipping out of alignment. High quality double glazed aluminium bi-folding doors not only offer better security than PVCU folding doors, but tend to have slimmer profiles, so are aesthetically more pleasing and enable more glass and daylight.
The ideal number of sections for a bi-folding door for each particular property is really determined by the size of the aperture concerned or required and how often these folding and sliding double glazed doors will be used. For those looking for all the sections to slide in one direction, then a 3, 5 or 7 section door will permit a travel door with a normal door handle. The problem with 2, 4 or 6 section section bi-folds doors is that if they had a normal door handle, they would be unable to fold up properly, and therefore are limited in operation.
Some bespoke aluminium bi-folding door systems allow for one single section at one end to pivot open on side hinges, allowing say a 3 section sliding and folding door to butt up to this section, enabling the property to have a travel door, pair of French door and bi-folding doors all in one configuration of three inter-linked sections and one independent swinging open section. Carefully consider whether you want your bi-folding doors to a) open to the left or to the right, b) fold inwardly or outwardly and c) have a standard or low threshold. It is worth taking your time and asking an experienced folding door company for a demonstration of whichever bi-folding double glazed product you are considering before committing to a purchase, as not getting it right could be a very costly error to rectify.