Bi-fold doors are a fantastic way to make an interior feel more spacious. Made from a concertina of wooden panels that slide along a rail, they’ve proven exceptionally popular in recent years.
Choosing bi-fold door handles is an important part of choosing a bi-fold door. Handles play an important cosmetic role, of course - you’ll want to pick ones that you like the look of, and which complement the surrounding décor. But they also serve a function - you’ll be using them to actually open and close the door, and a poor choice might mean annoyance further along the line.
Let’s consider some of the available options, and see which will best fit with your internal bi-folding door.
Before we think about what bi-fold door handles to choose, let’s consider the options available. As we’ll see, bi-fold door handles are best placed in the middle of the leading panel – which can make otherwise impeccable-looking lever-style handles look a little bit out of place.
Knobs, on the other hand, look just as good wherever they’re placed – and since you won’t need to worry about turning them, they’re an excellent choice for folding doors. Another option comes in the form of a pull door handle, which offer an entirely different aesthetic, preferred by many. They’re the sorts of vertical handles that you might find in public buildings, and on things like kitchen drawers.
Whichever sort of door handle you choose, you’ll want to ensure that the hardware matches the rest of the door. A classic black-iron handle might look fantastic in isolation, but if it doesn’t match the hinges and locking mechanisms, the overall look might be lacking. If you’re installing a new door, you’ll have the luxury of having the rest of the door match your choice of handle, but if you’re replacing an existing handle then you’ll want to stick as close as possible to the handle you’re replacing.
Contrasts tend to work nicely. A dark handle will match a light door, while a shining brass handle will complement a dark one. Handles often come packaged as part of a kit, which will ensure that all the hardware components of your door match one another. If you’re replacing every part of your door, or installing an entirely new one, this option is well worth considering.
You’ll want to account also for the thickness of your door before you purchase your handles – this will save you a great deal of hassle that can come with a mismatch.
Once you’ve chosen your handles, you’ll need to figure out where on the door you’ll be placing them. Deciding where to fit handles on a bi-fold door isn’t quite as straightforward as it might seem; while there is definitely an ideal place, there are cosmetic considerations to account for, and you might get away with shunting the handles along for the sake of good looks.
The aforementioned ideal place is in the centre of the leading door. If you’ve opted for ‘French-fold’ doors, there will be two of these sitting right in the centre of the arrangement. Placing the handle in the centre of the panel helps minimise friction and excess pressure along the guide tracks. This will in turn extend the lifespan of the door, as the guide pins won’t need to absorb as much stress.
There are a few places that you definitely shouldn’t put your handles. The biggest no-no of the lot is placing them on any of the following doors. This will enormously reduce the leverage you’re able to exert on the door, and place considerable friction on both the guide pins and the rail.
It’s also worth considering height when deciding where to place bi-fold door handles. Ensure that the handle is reachable – and roughly in the middle of the door. Too low or high and you’ll risk placing excessive force on the guide rail. In most cases, handles are placed 36 inches from the floor.
Fitting bi-fold door handles is typically the very last phase of the installation process. You don’t, after all, want to have to paint around the handles – and sliding the door into the guide rail with a handle sticking out might cause problems.
As is often the case in these situations, the best way forward is to measure repeatedly before you start making permanent changes to the door. Measure across the door 36 inches from the bottom (or wherever your preferred installation point might be). Then mark the spot with a pencil. Drill straight through from both sides using a 1/16” drill bit. These are your pilot holes. If they’re within a hair’s breadth of the markings on either side, you’re okay to expand them using a 3/16” drill. You’ll then be able to simply slide the handles into the resulting holes.
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