Internal bi-fold doors offer homeowners a means of diving one room from another in style. But when choosing such a door, it’s easy to be disorientated by the sheer number of options available. Let’s take a look at some of them, compare their various merits and drawbacks, and help you to see which might best fit your home.
What is an internal bi-fold door?
A bi-folding door is one which comprises at least two (and often more) wooden panels, each of which is connected to the last via a hinge, so that the whole arrangement is able to collapse in on itself in a concertina arrangement. Smaller bi-fold doors are often found on the front of storage cupboards, but now larger ones are becoming increasingly popular; at several metres wide, they can provide a means of opening out a space and giving a home the instant impression of roominess. As we’ll see, however, bi-fold doors differ tremendously in ways other than sheer size.
What’s the door made from?
Interior bi-fold doors can be made from as many different materials as any other door you might find in your home. In commercial and industrial premises, they’re often made from aluminium – you might find one in your local mechanic’s premises.
In the home, however, wood is the undisputed king – as it gives a classically attractive look, and can be easily painted. In order to give a pleasing finish at a lesser cost, you might opt for a veneer finish on your door. This involves covering the door with a thin layer of softwood, in order to give the impression that the door is made from solid oak. Since doors aren’t expected to endure the same amount of abrasion as tables and flooring, we can safely use veneer without fear that it will prematurely fade.
Where is the track?
In order that bi-fold doors are only able to fold along a single axis, and that their entire weight is not borne by the hinges on one side, it’s vital that they’re tied into position via a rail and a series of rollers, attached to either the floor, ceiling, or both. This means that you’ll need to select where you’d like the rail installed.
Floor mounted rails will either sit within the floor, or protrude from just above it. The former sort will require modifying the floor a little bit, but they’ll reduce the chance that you’ll trip up on or stand on the rail. If you’re going to be treating the two rooms being adjoined as one while the door is open, walking frequently back and forth between them (perhaps while carrying hot plates back-and-forth between a kitchen and dining room), then you’ll want to avoid this tripping hazard by setting the track flush into the floor.
Ceiling-mounted tracks help to avoid these problems altogether. As they sit above your head, there is barely any chance that they’ll interfere with your day-to-day life. What’s more, they’ll help to create a seamless transition from one room to the other, since we tend to spend more of our time looking at things on the floor than we do things on the ceiling.
How many panels are there?
One of the most obvious ways in which bi-fold doors differ from one another concerns the number of panels they contain. While you might reasonably assume that a bi-fold door can only have two folds, there’s no reason that one can’t have three, four, or even five if the situation demands it. If you’re covering a larger area, then you might need to choose between many smaller panels and a few larger ones. When you’re considering this, be sure to consider the impact that the folded doors will have once they’ve been folded away; if you’ve got furniture on either side of the area where the doors will be stowed, then you might find larger doors consume a little bit too much space. On the other hand, a large amount of smaller ones will protrude further from the wall.
What is the door’s U-value?
When we’re making choices for our home, we need to consider their thermal efficiency as well as their look. This thermal efficiency tends to be listed in terms of the U-value, which describes the speed at which energy will pass from one side of the door to the other. Lower u-values are assigned to more efficient doors. On the other hand, you might find doors described on a graded lettered scale, with ‘A’ rating being the best and ‘G’ rating being the worst. All other things being equal, it’s best to select doors with higher ratings.
Does the door contain glass?
Many internal bi-fold doors come with glass panels installed. This allows light to flow between one room and another, and helps to create the impression of space even when the door is closed. Naturally, the amount of glass you want in your door will depend on where it’s being used: if privacy is important when the door is closed, you’ll want minimal glass; if it isn’t, then a few glass panels can make a valuable difference to the impact the door has on your home. In exterior doors, you’ll want to ensure that these panels are double-glazed – but this is less of a concern for those on the inside of the property.
What sort of accessories does the door include?
Finally, you’ll want to pair your door with handles that match its look, and that of the surrounding interior. Fortunately, there are a myriad of options available on this front. Dark metal handles and hinges on a pale door can help to provide contrast, as can gleaming brass ones on a dark door.
As we’ve seen, if you’re shopping for folding internal doors, there is enormous scope for tailoring and customisation. There’s no need to make compromises on the overall theme of the room when you come to install the door – just take a look through the different categories available on this very website, and pick out something that works for your room of choice.