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Our complete guide to bi-fold and sliding patio doors

Image of bi-fold patio doors in the home of @heneddyhouse

Our complete guide to bi-fold and sliding patio doors

If you want to create an airy, light-filled home, add glazing – and plenty of it! Not only does glass connect indoor and outdoor space, but it’s also a fantastic way to open up your home, increasing the sense of space and making it feel bigger than it actually is. Read on to find out more about two of the most popular types of patio doors – bi-folding and sliding.

What are bi-fold doors?

Made of multiple leaves or panels, bi-fold doors slide open, folding as they do, and stack neatly to one side. They open up about 90 per cent of the aperture (cue a great view) as a result. The beauty of bi-fold patio doors is that they can be designed to open inwards or outwards, so consider which would make most sense for your home. If square inches are at a premium for instance, think about doors that open outwards and don’t take up your living space.

I’m sold on bi-fold doors. What do I do first?

Your first step is to work out how many panels you’ll need to fit the opening. If you’ve sourced a company to install the doors for you, they’ll usually take measurements and make recommendations on the different configurations available to you. On a budget? You can save money by installing the doors yourself, but you’ll need to be confident with your DIY skills.

What is a traffic door?

If you go for bi-folds, consider integrating a traffic door that can be opened independently and both internally and externally. A traffic door makes it easy to come and go without the hassle of having to open the whole set of doors.

What do I need to consider if I want to create step-free access between my garden and home using bi-folding doors?

A rebated threshold is best for hinged patio doors such as bi-fold doors. This comprises a small lip on the edge of the base track (usually 12mm to 15mm) that creates a weather-tight seal against the bottom of the door. This means you can keep the rain out and still have step-free access.

What are sliding doors?

Sliding patio doors comprise two or more large panes of glass that slide to one side of the frame where they stack one behind the other. The downside is that when they’re open, the panes will block part of the opening. On the plus side, the frames tend to be slimmer than those of bi-folds so they’re less obtrusive when closed.

What do I need to think about when buying sliding doors?

Sliding doors usually comprise two, three or four panels. When you look at the options for your home, you’ll need to think about safety as well as space. Each sliding door system will have its own safety guidelines that are dictated by width, height and weight. A quality supplier will be able to advise on what’s right for you. 

How can I use sliding doors to create a continuous connection between the inside and outside of my home?

Sliding doors are ideal if you want a flush threshold for a smooth transition from inside to outside – just make sure you specify this at the start of the project. You can also opt for a sliding door system with built-in drainage to stop rain seeping in. Either way, use a professional installer who will ensure you have adequate drainage to make sure water drains away quickly.

Featured image: Bi-fold patio doors help create a seamless link between indoors and outdoors, as can be seen in the home of Tilly Hugs (@heneddyhouse).

Want more? This blog is just one in a whole series on home renovation. So, if you found it useful head over to the home renovation page to read more.