Large glass patio doors are a highly sought after feature – now more than ever. But looking for a way to seamlessly connect your indoor and outdoor spaces, there’s by no means a one size fits all solution, and deciding which style to go for can be difficult.
As two of the most popular options, bifold and sliding doors offer many of the same benefits. They improve the flow between indoor and outdoor spaces, bring in lots of natural light, and are wonderfully versatile, with plenty of styles and configurations to choose from. They’re also both fantastic investments, adding a considerable amount of value to homes.
But what are their differences, and how do they compare? These are the main pros and cons you should note when shopping for bifold and sliding doors.
Opening sliding doors, you essentially move the panels to one side or the other, whereas bi-folding doors open concertina style, folding back on themselves. This type of opening is the main difference between the two.
When open both create a large opening, seamlessly connecting indoor and outdoor spaces. But bi-fold doors have the edge. They make the most of the full opening, removing any barrier between the home and garden.
Most of the time, sliding doors slide need to back on one another, unless they’re pocket doors, which slide into the external walls.
Both deliver equally in the way they can enhance the elegance of a space, and the desired aesthetic will largely come down to personal preference, but it’s worth noting which styles each type of door naturally lend themselves to.
Generally, bi-fold doors have a more contemporary look, and will complement most modern interiors. On the other hand, sliding doors may be better suited to period properties, or houses of a more traditional style.
Firstly, note that glass is more thermally efficient than aluminium window frames. As bi-fold doors typically have between 5 to 7 panels, they have a lot more aluminium than sliding doors, which usually have 2 panels. This could affect the amount of heat retention in the winter months. Sliding doors also tend to be thicker.
This can vary – for a clearer idea of energy efficiency it’s best to check the specific door’s U value.
While both bring in an abundance of natural light in comparison to solid wood doors, there is a difference – and again, it’s decided by the amount of space the aluminium frames take up.
With more glass, sliding doors let in more light. And without the extra partitions, you’ll enjoy the added benefit of uninterrupted views when the doors are closed.
It’s not every day in the UK where patio doors are flung open wide, thanks to the colder weather through much of the year. A lot of the time, you might just want doors open ajar to let some cool air in, or simply use the door for access.
Sliding doors offer much more control on this front. While bi-fold doors have a real wow-factor when they’re opened properly, with sliding doors you can more easily control temperature and breeze indoors.
Elderly homeowners and families with younger children may find bi-fold doors are easier to adapt to their safety needs. While there’ll always be a frame along the bottom of sliding doors, bi-folds can be installed with flush treshold openings for a smoother transition on the ground. This is also preferable if wheelchair access is required.
Bi-fold doors certainly maximise the space of the opening, but to do this, they require additional space to stack on the inside or outside. If the living space is a little tight and it’s a smaller patio, this may be impractical or simply not possible – in which case, sliding doors would be a more sensible option.
Bi-fold or sliding – choosing the best doors for your property
Both bi-fold and sliding doors make a great addition to any home and, ultimately, the style you opt for is down to personal preference. When choosing your patio doors, take your accessibility, property type, and aesthetics into account.