Bi-fold doors are becoming increasingly popular for patios, conservatories, and back doors that open out onto gardens. They are great for making your living room or conservatory a spacious looking, bright and airy place, and they’re a great choice because they don’t take up a lot of space – the doors fold in on themselves, leaving you with plenty of room once the doors are opened.
In general, these ‘patio’ bi-fold doors are easy to maintain, but there are a few things that can go wrong – if you find that you are having problems and need to replace the handles on your bi-fold doors, then these tips will help you make sure that the knobs are fitted correctly, and go in the right place.
Replacing Bi-fold Door Handles
Replacing bi-fold door handles is actually quite simple:
1) Find the Right Location
Firstly, you need to find the right location for the handle. Bad handle placement can actually break the door by putting pressure in strange places. The ‘ideal’ position for the door pull is in the horizontal centre of the leading door. This offers the best compromise between allowing the door to open and close smoothly, and avoiding putting pressure on the guide track and pins. If you don’t like how that looks (or you can’t do that, because the bifold door is made of glass), then you can put the pulls near the side of the leading door, in the area where the frame is – this makes the doors very easy to open, but can mean it is a little harder to close, and puts a bit (but not much) more pressure on the pins. Usually, it’s best to fit the handle in the place chosen by the manufacturer of the door – but you could move it to make the handle more accessible for a wheelchair user, or to make the pull easier for someone with arthritis.
2) Remove Existing Handles
Measure the ‘backset’ of the door and the size of the hole in the door to make sure that any replacement handle you buy is the right size. Once you have the replacement handle, unscrew the door handle that’s on the door now, and pull out the old handle. Make sure that the handle is compatible with your door. Most bifold door handles will have a list of common door brands that they fit on the packet. If you’re unsure if your door will take a given handle, contact the manufacturer of the door to check. It’s important that you choose the right handles for security reasons – if you choose the wrong type and it causes security issues with the door then you may find that your insurance company refuses to pay out if anything is stolen.
3) Insert the New Handle
Insert the new cyclinder, and screw it into place, making sure that the door is flush a secure. Some replacement handles come with keyholes – the locking mechanism for most bifold doors is a part of the door itself, holding it securely in place, but you can get handles that have their own ‘lock’ with spindles that are designed to snap if they are subject to any abuse (e.g. someone trying to force or pick the lock). This is a good option.
How Do Bi-Fold Doors Work?
There are two main designs for sets of bifold doors – some systems have a ‘lead door’, which contains the locking system and acts as an access door. You can use this door to get in and out of your home without having to fold back other panels in the door. Other layouts don’t have a ‘lead door’, but rather split in the middle, and both sets of doors open outwards – both of the middle doors can act as access doors in that case.
How Do You Care for the Lock?
Bi-fold doors have an undeservedly bad reputation because in the 80s and 90s patio doors (which featured a lot of glass and had a runner system) were often insecure – it was easy to break the glass or pop the doors out of the runners. That is now no longer the case, and the doors tend to lock quite securely. To keep the door and the lock running smoothly, clean the runners and seals regularly, and apply a small amount of light lubricating oil to the lock occasionally. Apply oil to both the lock and the key (making sure that the key is clean first), and then insert and remove the key a few times, before wiping the key clean again. This will ensure that the lock operates smoothly, which is essential as part of an external door.
Ensure you have the correct positioning for the handle. Bad positioning can damage or even break the door!
Bi-fold door handles are easy to fit, and you can purchase spare parts quite cheaply online. The best place to source parts is the manufacturer of the door, since they’ll be able to sell you handles that were designed for your specific door and its size and thickness.