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Bifold door ideas can boost the light inside the room in which they’re fitted and provide great views to the yard.
What’s more, because they can be drawn fully back from the opening, of all the patio door ideas you might consider, bifold – or folding – doors could top the list if you want to be able to open the interior of your home to the outside to space-stretching effect.
Be inspired by these bifold door ideas, and get the lowdown on the benefits here.
Bifold door ideas
Consider bifold doors alongside French door ideas and sliding doors to discover the best option for your needs as well as to complement your home’s architecture. These bifold door ideas will show you what a good choice they can be.
1. Double up
If you're fortunate enough to have a large, wide backyard, make the most of the space by installing more than one set of bifold patio doors. This property features two sets of folding doors, each one folding back to the outer edge, keeping the sightlines clear while opening out the majority of the first floor to the yard.
‘Match the frame color of bifold doors to that of existing windows when you’re selecting,’ says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens. ‘In this home both windows and folding doors match the wood siding, keeping the focus on the architecture.’
2. Keep a balanced connection
Not everyone is keen to have an entire length of their home open out to the yard when installing patio doors, particularly in colder climates.
Combining full length, fixed glazing with relatively small bifold doors has given this property a strong connection with the outdoors while allowing ample access to the yard when required.
3. Retain a (country) classic look
Bifold doors are often thought of as a very contemporary choice not best suited to traditional schemes. But a multipaned French door look can be easily recreated using either wood or manmade framing for a more traditional look.
4. Choose wood for a softer finish
Wood frames are an excellent choice for bifold door ideas to maximize the connection between indoors and out, and can be a top choice for older homes.
'While timber sometimes is chunkier, its traditional connotations make the size feel more acceptable,' says architect Rodrigo Moreno Masey, director of MorenoMasey.
Consider bifold door ideas like this for sun rooms where installing them can make the space feel as transparent as possible and completely at one with the exterior.
5. Go for a wraparound effect
Bifold doors aren't just for flat fronted properties. They can be installed at angles joined together via a mullion (a rigid section of frame) to create an almost uninterrupted view out into the backyard.
‘I often recommend choosing the same floor finish for indoors and out to connect them further,’ says Jennifer Ebert, digital editor of Homes & Gardens. ‘You may be able to use the same tile if it’s specified for exterior use, or a version that matches but is more slip-proof to cope with the conditions outside.’
6. Pick colored frames
Aluminium bifold doors are available in a wide range of colors. These subtle frames coordinate well with the property's exterior decor, echoing the soft green shade on the wooden bench and the warm tones of the stone paving.
7. Use the width
Larger kitchens can afford to sacrifice an entire outer wall to glazing as there's ample space in the rest of the room to house cabinetry, appliances and furniture.
Bifold doors, like this black framed aluminum set, are an excellent choice for modern kitchens. Their clean and simple design blends well with the contemporary handleless kitchen and sleek tile flooring.
8. Invest in extra wide panels
Custom bifold doors can be made with wide panels to spectacular effect. In this project by MorenoMasey, a stretch of wide paneled bifolds has been combined with a similarly sized pivot door.
The extra wide panels of glass will naturally be a more expensive choice as bifold door ideas than standard sizes but will ensure views are unimpeded when the doors are closed.
9. Open up a small space
In this project by IQ Glass, aluminum bifold doors are an excellent choice across a relatively small opening, extending the inside living space.
The three-panel door set up – odd numbers usually work best – also has a flush threshold that provides an easier transition between the interior and exterior living spaces.
10. Frame the view
In a linear, ultra modern scheme like this, bifolds create a frame to the backyard, putting the focus on the view and contrasting the soft shapes and greenery with the sleek horizontal and vertical lines of the pared-back kitchen design.
11. Open in or out
Bifold doors can fold inwards or outwards so that the panels sit inside the room when they are folded back to open out the room, or they’re in the space outside.
Consider which will function best in terms of the room design, but also the dimensions of the patio outside. ‘If they’re fitted in a kitchen, outward opening doors can be a boon to maximize circulation space,’ says Jennifer Ebert. ‘But, conversely, if your patio is narrow, inwards opening could be preferable.’
What are bifold doors?
With sliding, pivot or French doors, a panel or section of frame will inevitably obstruct your view to the outside when open. In contrast, bifold doors concertina back upon one other to one side – or both – creating a large, unobstructed opening to a patio or balcony.
Their disadvantage is that, because these doors consist of panels, each one requires a strong frame and when the doors are closed, the sightlines (or amount of frame that obstructs your view to the exterior) can be disappointing.
The obvious solution is to choose the thinnest frames available. Do bear in mind, though, that as a rule, the thinner they are, the costlier they become.
'Typically, there is a correlation between how much you spend and how much frame you get in your doors, the more expensive systems can have very thin frames,' says architect Rodrigo Moreno Masey. ‘But bifold will always have a double frame compared to sliding.
‘One pet hate I have of bifolds is how hard it is to open them “just a bit” to let some air in. Many systems don’t lend themselves to ventilating a room easily so it is worth checking for a kitchen or if you have a dog.'
One straightforward way around this issue is to install a traffic or master door. This is a single traditional hinged door that sits alongside the bifolds that can be opened independently.
What is the best material for bifold doors?
Wood, aluminium, vinyl, and steel are options as frame material. ‘Timber is very strong, secure, thermally efficient and cost effective, whilst aluminium is low maintenance and has slim sightlines,’ says Matt Higgs, director and co-owner, Kloeber UK.
Steel is growing in popularity. 'This adds a crisp industrial aesthetic to a design without being too modern and hard,' says Rodrigo Moreno Masey.
Timber will require regular maintenance as wood naturally warps when left untreated.
Meanwhile, if you prefer the look of aluminum, it's always advisable to choose a frame with a thermal break to reduce any heat loss between the inner and outer frame.
As most bifolds add large expanse of glass to a property, heat loss is a consideration. 'Go for glass that has a good U-value,' says Matt. 'It’s also important to consider solar gain and controlling the amount of UV light and heat that comes into the house – there are various different glass types that can manage this issue.'
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Ginevra Benedetti is Associate Editor on the Homes Content Team at Future. She has been writing about interiors for the past 16 years on the majority of Britain’s monthly interiors titles, such as Ideal Home, Country Homes & Interiors and Style at Home, as well as Livingetc and of course, Homes & Gardens. This naturally lead her into writing for websites like HomesandGardens.com.
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