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What is Lock Snapping and How Can You Prevent it?

Every front door needs a lock. It’s this essential feature that keeps your home secure while you’re out, and asleep. But not all locks are created equal. Some can be picked more easily than others, while some can be destroyed using brute force. This could mean using an angle-grinder or a power-saw, or it might mean taking a spanner and simply snapping a lock in half. 

This latter method is favoured on certain cylindrical euro-style locks. When the lock is in two pieces, the lock mechanism is exposed, and all the intruder has to do is move the lever back to open the door.

burglar snapping lock

How Common is Lock Snapping?

While lock-snapping isn’t quite as common as it once was – largely thanks to the introduction of newer, snap-resistant locks – according to police services across the country lock snapping is still a common way for intruders to enter the home.

Why is Lock Snapping Still Common?

So why is lock-snapping still such an attractive method of entry for would-be intruders? 

Lock Snapping is Fast

When you’re trying to break into the front (or rear) of a house, every second counts. The longer a burglar spends commiting a crime in full view of the street, the greater the likelihood they’ll be seen. Lock-snapping takes just a few seconds.

Lock Snapping is Easy

Another advantage of lock-snapping is that it requires no special training. You don’t have to spend hundreds of hours threading needles through practice-locks – all you need is a suitable tool and a little bit of brute-force.

Lock Snapping is Discrete

Compared with other methods of entry, like smashing in a window, lock-snapping is discrete. It won’t create much noise, or force the burglar to clamber through an awkward opening. It also doesn’t leave much in the way of forensic evidence, since clothes fibres won’t get snagged on jagged wood and glass.

How does Lock-Snapping Work?

One of the biggest advantages of a euro-cylinder is that it’s easy to replace. Changing the locks is a simple matter of sliding one lock out, and another one in. But this upside comes with a downside – it makes it easier for burglars to damage the lock, and slide the front half of it out – i.e. to snap the lock.

Is Your Door Lock at Risk of Being Snapped?

The euro cylinder is currently the most popular style of lock in the UK. It’s easy to tell whether you have one – from the outside it looks like a little metal circle, with a long section protruding from the bottom. It’s usually a single assembly with the handle. 

Note that cylinder locks are also used in nightlatch-style locks, but these aren’t usually vulnerable to lock snapping, as they offer little for the burglar to grip onto.

If you have a uPVC door, the chances are high that it’s equipped with a euro cylinder style lock. This is because it’s difficult to fit any other sort of lock into the material. uPVC can’t easily be drilled into or otherwise modified after it’s left the factory. Unfortunately this makes life pretty easy for burglars, who can see at a distance which locks they will or will not be able to snap.

However uPVC doors aren’t the only type of door to be fitted with euro cylinders. Some timber and aluminium doors also come equipped with this style of lock – specifically those found on older patio doors.

How to Prevent Lock Snapping

Worried about euro cylinder security? There are a few things to look out for to ensure your lock is snap-proof. 

The TS007 kite-mark

The first is the TS007 kite-mark, which usually sits next to the face of the cylinder and looks a little bit like a love-heart or an ice-cream-cone. It might be accompanied by one or more stars, which indicate quality. A three-star lock has been tested against snapping; a one-star lock has not. 

The SS312 diamond standard

To complicate things further, there’s another standard ensuring resistance to intruders – the SS312 diamond standard. This was launched in 2010 to deal with an epidemic of lock-snapping. The SS stands for ‘Sold Secure’, and it’ll be accompanied by an image of a diamond on the lock itself.

What makes a lock resistant to snapping?

Snap-resistant locks work in several ways. One is to simply use better materials. A manufacturer might also design the front of the lock to snap off in a separate piece, leaving the internal mechanisms of the door concealed.

Installation and lock snapping

Even the best-designed lock is vulnerable to snapping if it’s not installed properly. If the lock protrudes more than a few millimetres from the surface of the door, a would-be thief will have the opportunity to grasp it with a wrench. They’ll then have the leverage they need to force the lock apart.

Door handles and security

In addition to the lock, you should consider the door’s other hardware – especially the handle. Some handles are also kite-marked, or star-rated. If you want to treat security seriously, then fitting a two-star handle will give you close to the best possible security. At this point, a burglar will seek another point of entry – or, more likely, look for another house to target. 

For much the same reason, the police tend to recommend installing multiple locks onto the same door. That way if one of them is compromised, you have other locks as back ups. For best results, consider installing a night-latch as well.

How to Make Your Door More Secure

Your home’s front door is without doubt the most important piece of furniture you own. Without it, any burglar would be able to stroll right into your home.

But if your door is old or low quality, it might not do much to keep out intruders – so what are the best ways to make your front door more secure

door-1587863_1280

Upgrade Your Lock

Lock technology is constantly evolving, and making doors more resistant to attack. 

This is great news for homeowners – provided they’re willing to invest in an upgrade. 

Owners of older euro cylinder locks should be aware that intruders can simply snap the lock off with a tool, and open the door in five seconds flat. To avoid this, shop for a replacement high-security lock – one that comes with a TS007 kite-mark and three stars, or one which complies with the SS312 diamond standard. These should be fitted by a trained locksmith. 

Replace Your Door

If your door could potentially be kicked off its hinges, then it won’t be secure no matter how much you invest in locks. A kick-proof door is rarely made from uPVC, as those plastic panels can be easily broken with a boot (or a power-tool). If you’re worried about thieves trying to enter your home this way, you’ll need a door made from something a little more substantial.

A typical upgrade to a uPVC door would be an engineered or solid wooden door. These tend to cost more than uPVC doors, as they’re more difficult to manufacture, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Engineered doors tend to fare better than solid timber doors. That’s because an engineered door consists of a core made from many different lengths of wood, covered on both sides by a large, thin sheet of wood. This makes the door more affordable, and more resistant to warping. We’ve covered the difference between the two at length in this article.

The sturdiest doors tend to be composite doors. These are made from a mixture of woods, metals and plastics, and they strike a balance between weight and strength.That said, they’re not cheap, and they lack the distinctive finish of a real wooden door.

Fit a Deadbolt

Ideally you’ll want two locks on your front door – a spring-loaded lock, and a deadbolt. That way if one fails, you have the second lock as a backup. Adding a night latch will make your door even more secure.

Deadbolts got their name because they can only be moved by turning the key. The locks don’t contain a spring, so won’t return to their original position when you remove the pressure. The addition of a deadbolt can make a door twice as secure with minimal expenditure. Deadbolts come in a range of designs, some of which are more effective than others.

Single-Cylinder Deadbolt

The most common variety of deadbolt is the single-cylinder. From the outside the deadbolt can only be turned with a key. On the inside, there’s a latch instead. 

Double-Cylinder Deadbolt

A double cylinder deadbolt comes with two keyholes: one on either side of the door. Each can be rotated independently to move the bolt. On the downside, doors with double-cylinder deadbolts cannot be used as emergency exits when locked.

Horizontal Throw Deadbolt

A horizontal-throw deadbolt has a bolt that moves (you guessed it) horizontally. They can be either built into the door, or surface-mounted on the interior. They’re commonly used on wooden doors.

Vertical Throw Deadbolt

This type of deadbolt works a little bit differently. It comes with a small doorknob that can be worked up and down to move a vertical pin through a series of holes. They’re not the prettiest of locks, and they overlap the side of the door slightly, but they work well. 

Lengthen Your Door’s Set Screws

If you think your door is at risk of being kicked in, you can strengthen it by replacing the set screws that hold the strike-plate with something longer. 

Set screws are typically less than an inch long, but if you replace them with three-inch screws, the door becomes instantly more resilient. When a door is kicked in, the point of failure is typically the bolt ripping through its surroundings. If the strike plate is securely fastened, then this becomes impossible. 

Be Mindful of Glass

Nearby glass surfaces are vulnerable to being smashed, giving burglars a way into your home. You can strengthen these weak points by upgrading to tempered glass, or installing bars over it. 

Alternatively you could fit security film. This covers the rear of the glass so that in the event of an attempted break in, the glass remains in one piece. 

Bear in mind that this won’t prevent the glass from being shattered, but it will make it harder for a thief to gain entry through the hole.

Invest in Security Cameras

Home security cameras were once reserved for the super-wealthy, but now they’re affordable to most households. Better yet, many modern security cameras connect to your Wi-Fi and upload footage to a cloud server. 

In fact, even the sight of a front door security system provides an effective deterrent for most burglars.

Approved Document Q: What You Need to Know and How It Affects You

approved document QWhen ensuring homes and dwellings are safe and secure, many factors need to be considered. This is why building regulations exist: to maintain minimum standards within the industry.

Approved Document Q lays out a set of building regulations regarding the security of new residential dwellings. They are intended to minimise access potential for casual or opportunistic intruders.

The standards set out in this document came into force in October 2015, and apply to any new building that is going to be used as a residential dwelling. This includes buildings that have previously been used as something else and have been converted into residential properties, such as warehouses, pubs or barns.

Approved Document Q and Doors

The regulations do not only apply to doors. Approved Document Q covers anything that could provide an easy access point to a building, like low-level windows.

In this post, we’ll explain how this approved document may affect you and what features you can expect from a door that meets the standards it enforces.

What Does Part Q Compliant Mean?

Approved Document Q refers to the security of homes and dwellings.

It is intended to make sure that all entry points to a property, i.e. windows and doors, provide a certain level of security against casual intruders.

Any door that is marketed as compliant with Approved Document Part Q will have been tested to ensure it meets the requirements of PAS 24. This means it was able to withstand a cylinder and hardware attack test in line with European Standards.

If a door or window is compliant with Approved Document Q, you can be certain it will be secure enough to meet these legal requirements.

How Do Part Q Building Regulations Affect Me?

Anyone who installs a door or window in a new residential property needs to make sure that the product in question meets these regulations.

Note however that Part Q building regulations only apply to new residential dwellings. You are under no legal obligation to meet these standards when replacing doors in older, pre-existing buildings.

That said, if you are converting an existing premise into a residential dwelling for the first time, the regulations will apply. Whether you’re a large scale developer, a tradesperson, or simply converting a building independently, you are obliged to pick a door that is compliant with the standards set out in this document.

It is also important to note that these regulations cover any door or window that could provide an entrance point to a dwelling; not just the main access point or front door.

Any external door that can provide access to the building is covered. This includes garage doors. If the garage is connected to the property and has an internal access point to the house, the door installed within will need to be Part Q compliant.

For apartments or multi-occupancy buildings, this access point designation also covers any door intended to provide privacy or security to the occupant. If a door connects a communal area with a private one, then it must meet these standards.

You should also consider that this legislation applies to any easily accessible window, too. This includes all basement or ground floor windows.

This legislation may seem to apply directly to renovators and builders, but if you are purchasing a new residential property you should still enquire whether all applicable doors and windows meet this standard, since the answer may affect your insurance.

Though it is only a legal requirement for new residential properties, it is recommended that you seek to meet these standards when installing or replacing external doors. This way, you can be reassured that your door can withstand a casual attack.

What Are the Common Features of an Approved Document Q Door?

Approved Document Q sets rigid restrictions around the keeps, locks and wood that can be used in the construction of external doors for dwellings.

These features include:

  • A higher security multipoint lock that meets the standards PAS 24.
  • A viewing window in main entrance doors, or else access to a window that shows any potential entrants to the house.
  • A door chain or limiter.
  • A letter box that is no bigger than 260mmx40mm.
  • A flap across the letter box that prevents it being used to remove or retrieve keys.
  • Hinge bolts on any hinges accessible from outside the building.
  • Any glazing in or around the door must be a minimum class P1A.

Where Can I Buy Approved Document Q Doors?

Aspire Doors were proud to offer the first off-the-shelf Part Q compliant solid oak doors in the UK.

Both of our solid oak Icon Part Q doors, available in bi-fold or French styles, are Part Q compliant. View our Part Q compliant French doors here, and our Part Q compliant bi-fold doors here.

ICON PART Q COMPLIANT SOLID OAK FRENCH

Icon Part Q Compliant Solid Oak French Door

Oak is a naturally strong wood, providing a super secure frame for these doors, while the construction techniques we use maximise the stability of the base material.

All the panels in these doors are double-glazed, laminated, and fully compliant. This means that they will resist deliberate damage, and even if they shatter they should stand firm.

Finally, these doors feature PAS 24 compliant multi-point locks. These particular locks have hooked points for maximum security protection.

All Aspire doors are thermally efficient and EU compliant, as well.

We hope this post has given you a better understanding of Approved Document Q. Complying with this is a legal requirement in any new dwelling but you should consider it a moral one as well. Any house designed to meet these requirements will provide a level of security and safety that homeowners should receive as standard.

Here at Aspire Doors, we ensure that all our doors consider security as a standard feature, and you can trust our external doors will deliver peace of mind and protection, too.

Garden Ideas for French & Bifold Doors

Summer 2018 has been an unusual one for the UK.  Apart from the occasional thunderstorm, it’s been pretty much wall-to-wall sunshine, so what better time could there be to get outside and enjoy what the garden has to offer?

The good weather has inspired many of us to make changes to our garden designs – and there are few more influential features than patio doors. Choose the right set, and you’ll be able to enjoy more of your garden from the inside, and ensure that your home looks the part from the outside. Let’s take a look at a few of the best options when it comes to patio doors, and see how making changes to your garden might help you get even more out of them.

French Door Garden Ideas

icon white french doors

Icon White French Doors

While often thought of as being very traditional, French doors to the garden can actually make a great addition to contemporary homes.

A set of French doors leading to the garden make a great match for smaller properties, too.  They’re simply constructed, consisting of just two doors attached to opposite sides of the frame, which lock together where they meet in the centre.  This means fewer moving parts, which in turn means more glazing.

You’ll want to consider the direction in which your French Doors will open when planning the surrounding space.  If you’ve placed a garden table immediately outside the door, then you’ll want to allow a little extra room to avoid collisions.

It’s also worth bearing in wind speed in mind – the last thing you want is for your glass doors to be repeatedly slammed on a blustery day.

You can get around this in several ways.

You might tether your doors to the external wall using a small hook-and-chain, or you might prop them open using a rock or plant pot.

This latter option will require moving heavy objects back and forth every time you want to keep the door open, which will understandably be a little inconvenient.

We should also consider that an isolated pair of plant pots might well appear out of place.  It’s therefore worth making a feature out of it and arranging a few dozen pots around the edges of your door.

Another option is to have your doors open internally.  This will encroach on the space inside your home, but will mean you don’t need to worry about the wind.  What’s more, you’ll be able to incorporate more decorative features around your French doors, like climbing plants and other ornaments.  You don’t want to overcrowd the entranceway, as this limits how much light can enter your home; however a few subtle touches can often go a long way.

To emphasise the divide between your home and garden, you might build a set of steps from your French Doors to your patio.  You’ll be able to feel like a real Parisian aristocrat as you descend them en-route to your barbeque!

Bifold Door Garden Ideas

aspect grey bifolding doors

Aspect Grey Bifolding Doors

Bifold doors leading to your garden can look spectacular.  Their folding, sliding concertina-style design allows them to cover wall-spaces of five metres and more.  This makes them the perfect match for uninterrupted stretches of wall which adjoin the patio.

Internal bifold doors allow you to open up or divide rooms as desired.  With a little ingenuity, you can achieve the same effect in your garden.  Match your patio’s tiles with those of your kitchen-diner, and you can create a seamless living space that’s perfect for barbeques.

You might even go one step further and have the floor of your patio and kitchen align perfectly, with the rail of your bi-fold built into the ceiling rather than the floor.  This will create the ultimate harmonious living space.  This will require you to consider draughts and drainage (you don’t want water leaking beneath your door, after all), but get it right and it’ll look amazing.

If you’ve got wooden decking installed outside, then another option is to raise it to the same level as your internal flooring, and minimise the gap between the levels.

While you’re unlikely to want to match the decking with the sort of hardwood flooring you’re laying in your lounge, wooden decking allows for rainwater to drain through, and if properly cared for will last for several decades.

Bifold doors also make a great addition to conservatories and garages that have been converted into living spaces.

In the latter case, they’re particularly useful. Since garages aren’t built with light dispersal in mind, they will benefit from the glazing that a bifold door provides.  If your garage is set behind your property, then installing a large sliding door along the side of it will solve the light problem in a second, and provide you with a fantastic living area.

As with patio doors, you’ll need to think about the direction in which the bi-fold doors in your garden open.  Having them extend out from the building is a logical choice, as this will maximise interior living space.  It will, however, limit how much decoration you’re able to place immediately outside the door.  Why not counteract this by placing potted plants and raised borders on the other side of the patio?

Given the considerable size of a bi-fold door, they can dominate exterior walls; even in larger properties.  The best way to avoid this is to ensure that the room beyond is suitably varied and well-decorated, and to divide the patio with regular features.  A long dining table that runs parallel to the door will achieve this.  It’s a perfect setting for summer parties, and it’ll ensure that the eye isn’t confronted with a large empty space.

For the sake of convenience, you might wish to install a retractable canopy just above your bi-fold doors.  This will eliminate the need to clutter up your patio with parasols.  You’ll want to consider the angle at which sunlight will meet the door, however; even when retracted, your canopy might well cast a shadow over your bifold doors at certain times of day.

Window Dressing Bi-Fold Doors

Bi-fold doors are a popular choice for homeowners looking to maximise light and space in their home, but dressing them can sometimes pose a challenge.

A bi-fold door consists of several panels arranged in a row.  Each is connected to the door next to it via a set of hinges, so that the entire arrangement folds in a concertina.  This means that when opened, the doors won’t intrude on the surrounding space.  You’ll find bi-fold doors on the exterior of properties, typically opening out onto the garden and patio, but you’ll also find them in the interiors of properties, often bridging kitchens, dining rooms and lounges.

Bi-Fold Doors:  Blinds or Curtains?

The complex folding nature of the bi-fold door can mean dressing them is a little trickier than dressing a standard window, but it is easier than you might think.

Dressing bi-fold doors with curtains

Curtains are a popular choice for bi-fold doors, but they pose a few problems, most of which concern space.  If your door is very tall, there might not be enough space at the top of the door to accommodate a curtain pole, which automatically rules out the possibility of dressing your bi-fold doors with curtains.

What’s more, since bi-fold doors often cover a vast expanse of wall, you’ll need a lot of curtain to cover them, and large curtains can be very heavy.  If you’re installing curtains on bi-folds in a lounge, then you might opt for heavy, blackout-style curtains, which will emphasise the problem further.

There are two problems here.

Firstly, curtains over a certain weight tend to sag.  Secondly, the heavier the curtains the more robust a curtain rail you’re going to need to hold them in place. This can bump up costs significantly.

To help mitigate this problem you might choose to opt for a lighter fabric.  Muslin or voile curtains are unobtrusive and can look spectacular, even if they aren’t quite as effective at excluding light and sound, or retaining heat, as thicker curtains.

Dressing bi-fold doors with blinds

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For the reasons listed above, blinds are often a better choice than curtains for dressing bi-fold doors, but how suitable are blinds for bi-fold doors? That depends on their type.

Roman blinds are designed to scoop up when not in use.  This means you’ll need to leave a little bit of space at the top of the door, much like curtain rails.  Roman blinds tend to be quite heavy, which could cause a problem when lifting them to the top of the door.  You can overcome this issue however by fitting a mechanised, electric retraction device – but needless to say this will add considerably to the cost.

Roller blinds suffer from much the same problem, albeit to a lesser degree; they collapse into a cylinder which takes up a little bit of room.

They’re also much lighter and often elasticated, which makes it really easy to retract them.  Venetian blinds offer similar benefits, as well as a unique aesthetic that’s proven consistently popular over the years.

Also worth considering are vertical panel blinds. Vertical blinds function more-or-less like curtains, opening from one or both sides.  Their only downside is their appearance. They can look distinctly “office-like”, which might not be desirable, especially when contrasted with a homely interior.

A problem both curtains and blinds share when fitted to bi-fold doors is what happens when the doors fold.

As they fold, they expand, which may intersect the dressing.  This means you’ll need to draw a set of curtains or vertical blinds entirely before you’re able to open the door.

Bi-fold doors with built-in blinds solve this problem.  They’re slightly more expensive, more difficult to personalise, and there are fewer of them to choose from – but they offer a clean, elegant solution that’ll suit many interiors.

So What Should You Choose for Your Bi-Fold Doors: Curtains or Blinds?

There is no one ideal solution so before you decide, consider the following factors…

Cost

The size of your bi-fold doors will affect how much it costs to dress them – but this is true of both curtains and blinds.  Of the available options, roman blinds tend to be the cheapest, but to get the best from them, you’ll need to equip them with an expensive motor.  If you’re replacing one set of curtains with another, then sticking with what you already have will minimise the costs associated with installing new rails and other hardware.

Privacy

Few of us enjoy living in in a goldfish bowl at night-time, so the main purpose of window dressing – besides decoration – is privacy.

Both curtains and blinds should perform equally here, but if you want to be extra sure no-can see what you’re up to once the sun goes down, a thick set of blackout curtains are probably your best option.

Light

One of the best things about bi-folding doors is how much light they let into the home.  A heavy set of curtains, however, will reduce this.  Even when they’re fully open, they’ll still be covering some of the window, and limiting how much light the doors let in.

Practicality

The amount of space at the top of your doors can make-or-break your decision.  If there isn’t enough space to fit a curtain rail, you’ll need to consider blinds instead.

How to Adjust French Doors

French doors that don’t close properly can cause a number of problems.

French doors that drag along the ground can damage the floor, and the door itself.  French doors with gaps, even very small ones, will cause draughts and pose a security risk.

white external french doors

Fortunately, most issues of this sort can be corrected with the help of adjustable hinges. Your doors might already have them installed but if they don’t, they can be purchased relatively cheaply, and fitted with the help of a few tools.

You’ll need:

  • A screwdriver.
  • A spanner or Allen key.
  • The hinges.
  • Some cardboard.

You’ll also need a willing volunteer.

How to Fix Common French Door Problems

Let’s run through the process of fixing French doors that stick, step-by-step.

If you’re installing adjustable hinges

  1. Remove the hinges from your doors. There will be two of these per side.  Use your screwdriver to remove them.  Be sure that you have a friend to hand, as these doors can be heavy, and you don’t want them to fall over.
  2. Using the original screws, attach the adjustable hinges to the doors.
  3. Now comes the tricky part. Get your helper to hold the door level with the frame, and screw it into place.  To keep everything entirely level, you might need to place shims at the bottom of the door.  A few pieces of cardboard should do the job nicely.

Once the hinges are in place…

Now that you’re done, you’ll be able to make some actual adjustments.  A set of adjustable hinges will allow for several different sorts of modifications.

If your doors aren’t quite parallel with the surrounding frame, they’ll start to drag.  This is a leading cause of French doors that hit each other.  This misalignment will develop over time, thanks to gravity and the warping of the frame. You’ll need to adjust the corner bearings, which are to be found on the bottom hinge.  Remove the cover and turn the adjusting screw to lift and lower the leaf.

The gaps might well have appeared to the sides of your door, and in the middle, which will compromise thermal insulation.   Measure the gaps carefully and adjust the bearings accordingly, making small adjustments to the top and bottom alternately, to keep the door parallel to the frame.

When you’re making these adjustments, measure carefully and often.  It might only take half a turn of your Allen key to get the job done.  Once you’re done, give the door a few test swings to ensure that they’re working as they should.

It’s worth checking the alignment of your French doors every so often (twice a year or so should do it).  Once you’ve made these adjustments for the first time, regularly repeating the feat will be easy.  More importantly, it’ll save you a great deal of hassle in the long-term!

Prefinished vs. Unfinished Doors

If you’re shopping for a wooden door, you’ll need to choose between a door that’s been pre-finished at factory level, or one that arrives unfinished, so you can finish it according to your own tastes at home.  So, what’s the difference between prefinished and unfinished doors?

What are prefinished doors?

Prefinished doors come factory-finished, covered in multiple coats of paint or wood stain.  All you need to do is fit the doors – a process which takes a matter of minutes, if you know what you’re doing.

What are unfinished doors?

Unfinished doors, by contrast, are those which lack a finish, so you’ll have to apply one yourself.  This allows for maximum flexibility and helps cut costs at factory level.

What about primed doors?

If you can’t decide between prefinished or unfinished doors, it’s worth bearing in mind that there exists a happy medium between them – pre-primed doors.

Pre-primed doors arrive with a base coat of primer, onto which you can apply a layer or two of paint. Since primers don’t vary as much as top coats in colour, this eliminates some of the work without limiting your options.  Obviously, primer is only necessary if you’re painting your door – transparent wood treatments don’t require it.

Why choose a prefinished door?

Let’s consider the advantages of prefinished doors.  The most obvious is that you have very little work to do once the door (or doors) arrive.  Simply attach the hinges and screw it into the frame.  You’ll need just a handful of tools, and the help of a volunteer.

Why choose an unfinished door?

So what about the benefits of unfinished doors?

As we’ve mentioned, your doors will arrive sanded smooth, but without a final coat.  This approach will allow you the freedom to choose whatever finish you’d like – however outlandish it might be.  If you think that your living room will benefit from a bright-yellow matt-finished door, then you’ll want to start from a blank, unfinished canvas.  Similarly, if there are other doors in your home you’d like to match your new door to, unfinished is the way to go.

For those in search of a new DIY project to sink their teeth into, an unfinished door is probably the optimal choice.

So, should you choose a prefinished or unfinished door?

white prefinished door

Cost

You might assume that an unfinished door would be a wonderful way to cut costs.  Up front, this is the case; unfinished doors are indeed less expensive than finished doors – but that’s not the end of the story.

Factor in the time investment you’ll need to make, as well as the price of the paint itself, and the costs begin to mount (and that’s before you even contemplate any additional tools you might need, like belt-sanders and sawhorses).

You’ll also need to secure some old blankets to control the mess.

Prefinished hardwood requires that more money be spent on the actual door, and less on the labour involved in installing it.  In the case of unfinished hardwood, the opposite is true.  If you’re bringing in outside help, bear their motives in mind.  Since they make their money from the labour, the job will be more profitable for them, even if the cost to you is the same.  They might therefore advise you to go down the unfinished route, simply to create more work for themselves.

If you’re going to follow the DIY route, then it’s worth considering what might happen if you botch the job entirely.  You’ll probably need to start again from scratch – and that’s going to cost you.  As such, DIYers should probably stick to prefinished doors.

Durability

Prefinished hardwood tends to be far more resilient than unfinished hardwood.  While you might apply just two or three coats of paint at home, at the factory level they’re able to apply more than twice that, which will increase the durability of the door.

Ease

It should probably go without saying that a pre-finished door just makes life easier.

One factor that few consider is the mess that finishing a door will create.  To achieve a smooth finish, you’ll need to apply several layers of paint.  Each of these will need time to dry, so you’ll need to clear a space in your home for the doors to lay flat.  You’ll also need to sand the doors down slightly before each coat of paint is applied. This will invariably create quite a lot of sawdust.

Colour matching

If you’d like your door to precisely match the décor around it, you have very little choice – you’re probably going to need an unfinished door.  You’ll be able to choose any colour you like, so getting one that fits isn’t such a big ask.

So what’s best: a prefinished or unfinished door?

While it might seem like a cop out, there’s no set answer to the question of which is best – it’ll depend on your circumstances and personal preferences.

Customers with little DIY experience tend to underestimate the work involved in painting a door at home (or the cost of getting someone else to), as well as the upheaval such an undertaking will cause.  This is especially so if you’re painting several doors at once.  On the other hand, if you have your heart set on a particular colour or style that door-makers simply haven’t yet made available, an unfinished door might be the only way to proceed!

white internal bifold door

The Cost of Internal Bifold Doors

Internal bi-fold doors allow you to inject a little extra space and light into your interior.  They make excellent room-dividers, whether it’s to separate kitchens, livings rooms or dining areas.  One of their chief advantages is their tremendous size; they can be anywhere up to seven or eight metres long.  Naturally, this means that they vary considerably in price!

How Much Do Internal Bi-fold Doors Cost?

There are many factors which influence the price of internal bi-fold doors.

Size

Needless to say, the bigger the door, the more it will cost – both from the cost of the extra materials, and the cost of the labour involved in producing and installing the door.

Bi-folding doors are complex things.  While a traditional French door might consist of just two panels attached to a frame via hinges, a bi-fold door might contain six or more; each of which tether not only to their neighbours but also to a long rail, along which a carriage runs.

Size matters.  3-metre bi-fold doors cost, on average, around £800.  However, the number of panels will typically influence the cost of the door more than its actual size due to the cost of the bi-folding hardware.  For example, our 5+0 panel doors vary in size by almost two metres, but they each cost the same.

That’s the cost of the door itself covered – but what about the cost of installation?  If you need to enlarge or shrink the opening in your wall to accommodate your door, this can get expensive quickly, as skilled labourers will be required to complete the job.

Materials

Most quality internal bi-folds are made from timber, with aluminium and uPVC generally being the preserve of external bi-fold doors.  The cost of timber bi-fold doors will vary.  Engineered timber doors, which combine several different lengths of timber into a warp-resistant whole, are the standard – but you might cut costs by going for something less prestigious.  When considering materials, bear in mind that inferior materials will not hold their shape, nor their value, and they’ll require more regular maintenance.

Glazing

Part of the charm of a large, folding door, is that it’ll introduce more glass into the room.  More glass leads to a greater sense of space, and more light dispersal through your home.  The more glazing you use, the more the door will cost – though other factors tend to be more influential.

Finish

Getting the door fully-finished at factory level will cost a little bit more, but it’ll save you the trouble of having to finish the door yourself.  Factory finishes tend to be more resilient than those you might apply at home, so they’ll save you the long-term cost of touching up your door each time something knocks against it.  On the other hand, if you’d like to get the job done yourself in a particular way, applying the finish yourself is the only way to proceed!

Timber, Aluminium or PVC bifold doors?

Timber, Aluminium or PVC Bifolds

What material bifolding doors should you choose?

If you’re buying a set of bifolding patio doors for the first time, knowing how to decide which material to go for can seem like a bit of a mystery. The three options of timber, aluminium and PVC are all very different from each other, but no material ticks every single box so it’s a case of weighing up the pros and cons to find the best fit for your home. Luckily, we’re here to talk you through each potential material for your bifolds to help you make the right decision.

 

PVC Bifold Doors

PVC – or polyvinyl chloride if you’re feeling fancy – is a widely produced plastic that’s used to make a broad range of products from waste pipes to window frames. PVC is very cheap to manufacture and highly versatile, allowing it to be shaped into cross-sectional profiles with large air chambers that improve the insulation of your doors. Although most commonly supplied in white, it is possible to source PVC bifolds in almost any colour. While PVC is very easy to maintain, the plastic can unavoidably make the doors look like a budget option. It’s not a particularly strong material either, resulting in bifolding doors that can feel flimsy, which isn’t ideal in situations where structural stability is highly important.

PVC Pros:

  • Very cost effective
  • Decent thermal insulator
  • Low maintenance

PVC Cons:

  • Budget appearance
  • Low structural strength

 

Timber Bifold Doors

Wooden bifolds are the classic option amongst the three, and for good reason. Timber bifolds will look beautiful on any property, whether they’re finished with a stain to display the natural grain or painted a feature colour to compliment the rest of the house. Wood is also a fantastic natural insulator, while also being inherently strong. There are also options on the specific species used – Oak and Pine for example – to accommodate pretty much any budget. Old manufacturing methods used to leave the doors vulnerable to warping or bowing, but modern constructions are designed to resist these problems providing the doors are looked after. Maintenance is the main downside of timber bifolds, requiring a check over every 6 months or so and a quick touch up in the event of any finish deterioration.

Timber Pros:

  • Versatile appearance, premium feel
  • Options for all budgets
  • Good thermal insulator

Timber Cons:

  • Finish maintenance required
  • Failing to maintain the finish can result in problems such as bowing and splitting

 

Aluminium Bifold Doors

While aluminium bifolds are the newest option for homeowners, they’ve quickly established themselves and their presence continues to grow. Aluminium is both incredibly strong and relatively lightweight, making it a superb material for constructing bifolding doors out of. Its characteristic strength allows the framing around each pane of glass to be very slim, creating a sleek minimalist effect that had, up until recently, been reserved for bespoke architectural projects. It is also highly durable, requiring no maintenance of the finish and minimal upkeep needed for the rest of set. Aluminium bifolds tend to be supplied power coated in your choice of finish from RAL colour charts, giving you almost endless options. This all comes at a cost though; aluminium is by far the most expensive material out of the three due to the high costs involved in producing the metal itself. Also, being a metal, aluminium is a very poor insulator. Manufacturers limit the effects of this by incorporating thermal breaks – sections of a better insulating material – into the structure, but aluminium sets still depend heavily on the glass used to achieve acceptable insulation performance.

Aluminium Pros:

  • Structural strength
  • Slim sightlines
  • Wide range of finish options
  • Low maintenance

Aluminium Cons:

  • Most expensive option
  • Poor insulator

 

Conclusion

As you can see from our breakdown, each option definitely has its place. Although the positives and negatives of each material vary quite widely, this does mean that you should be able to find an ideal match, whatever your budget or the style of your project. Head over to our external bifold doors page to view the ranges we’ve currently got for sale, or give our office a call on 020 3744 0704 if you’d like any further advice.

Superheroes’ Super-Useful Washing Tips

What do washing symbols mean?

Unmasking the Illusive Washing Symbols

Fighting crime, saving the day and just generally being around to do some good is what being a superhero is all about, and of course, having an awesome costume to keep their top-secret identity hidden is essential.

So who better to save us from those pesky washing advice labels that are impossible to understand and tell you what washing symbols mean than our favourite ‘grime’ fighting superheroes?! Apart from our mums…

Do not iron washing symbol label

colour mixing washing symbol

wash at low temperatures washing label

Dry clean only washing symbol

Washing symbol meaning: check pockets before washing

Wash clothes inside-out washing symbol

hand-wash washing label symbol  mesh bag wash symbol

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What Do Washing Symbols Mean?

This is a question that has gone unanswered since the start of time. Although it probably hasn’t been that long and we’re sure it might’ve been answered several times before, but we’ve all been there when we’re looking at the washing label and wondering to ourselves what they actually mean!

So we thought we’d pull in some help from our superhero friends to tell us what washing symbols mean… After all, that’s what superheroes are all about, right? Helping people out.

Aside from the ‘do not iron’ symbol, the rest of the laundry symbol meanings are pretty hard to figure out without a bit of help from a more experienced and better informed washer.

We hope that our superhero translations have helped you figure out what your washing symbols mean and next time you come to facing your arch-nemesis, the dreaded laundry pile, that you’ll have everything you need to save the day.