A Buyers guide to Bi-folding doors and Windows

A Buyers guide to Bi folding doors and Windows

When choosing the right bi-fold doors or windows for your home, there’s a lot to think about; ranging from sightline considerations through to thermal efficiency and security features. Neil Ginger, CEO of Origin, a UK specialist manufacturer of bi-folding doors and windows, identifies and highlights the things to look out for and the questions to ask.

What material should I go for - wood, metal or uPVC?
uPVC is usually the cheaper option and has thicker sightlines than aluminium, due to the material not being as innately strong. For bi-folding doors, this can affect how many panels are needed, which in turn, means less glass and consequently, less light. It also has a tendency to flex and warp in differing weather conditions, which can limit operation and reduce longevity.
Timber can look great in certain types of property and offer a warm feel. Like uPVC, it tends to have wide sightlines, which can restrict your view. Regular maintenance is also required to keep timber looking good and working well, especially when in direct sunlight.
Aluminium offers the right combination of strength and weight, allowing for narrow, more aesthetically pleasing frames and better sight lines. It is extremely low maintenance and tends to come with longer guarantees, as it is resilient to flexing, expanding or contracting.

Budget required?
The prices can range drastically, from cheaper uPVC systems, to value for money aluminium or ultra-expensive timber options. A high quality, bespoke aluminium bi-fold door, glazed and installed will normally cost around £1,200 - £1,500 per door. The price for an aluminium window with an internal and external flush casement would be approximately £300 for 1200mm x 1200mm, without glazing or installation.

What type of guarantee?
The standard industry guarantee is 10 years, but make sure you find out what’s included in this. Some manufacturers will offer different warranties on the paint and components. For example, the Origin guarantee is for 20 years on its bi-fold door and window systems. This covers all manufactured parts and paint.

How do I ensure my bi-folding doors and windows are thermally efficient?
The best indicators of thermal efficiency are U-Values. U-Values show the amount of heat lost in watts (W) per square metre of material, so, the lower the number, the better the thermal efficiency.

The required U-Values for bi-fold doors within the UK must be 1.8W/(m2K) for replacements or 2.0 W/(m2K) for new builds and extensions. For windows, the U-Values in the UK must be 1.6 W/(m2K) for replacements and up to 2.0 W/(m2K) for new builds and extensions.

For superior thermal efficiency, the Origin Window is the only window in the UK that can be upgraded to Aerogel, which has the lowest thermal conductivity of any solid known material. When Aerogel is used, it can boost the window’s thermal efficiency by up to 67%, combining with the Origin Window to deliver a ground-breaking A++ energy rating and certified 0.9 U-Value.

Should I be worried about privacy?
Large expanses of glass in your home needn’t be a concern as the best manufacturers will offer bespoke blinds in a range of styles, colours and finishes to add the perfect finishing touch to your doors and windows.

How quickly will the products be delivered?
Standard industry lead time for bi-folding doors is normally six weeks, but nobody wants a hole in their wall for that long, leaving it exposed and often void of insurance for that amount of time. Some companies, such as Origin, can deliver your doors much sooner, even within 48 hours of placing the order, which will really shorten your build schedule.

The Origin Window is available on an industry-first one week lead time in eleven popular colours, and a three week lead time for the further 150 shades.

What security requirements should I look for?
As with any external door, you will want to ensure it is as secure as possible. There are a few easy ways to check the security of the bi-fold door: 

  • That the whole system conforms to PAS 23/24 security standards.
  • It has a multi-point locking system on the lead door.
  • The locking cylinder/barrel is anti-pick, snap, lift and drill.
  • Hinges should also be made of a strong material, such as zinc.

Choose a window installed with Yale’s highly renowned and dependable Encloser Lock, which features bi-directional locking technology. The most secure window will also make use of the highest grade stainless steel hinges, capable of carrying heavy loads, to exceed the standardised 50,000 cycle test required for residential windows.
Glass is also a major factor of bi-folding doors and windows. Double and triple glazed panes are reasonably strong, however, if you did want to increase the security further, you could opt for laminated glass, but it does come at a premium.

How can I be sure the windows and bi-fold doors will suit my style of home?
Your home is a personal statement, so choose doors and windows that fit your style and taste. Manufacturers should offer a choice of finishes, colours and styling, allowing full customisation to create a perfectly integrated look. Unlike uPVC and timber, aluminium frames are available in a virtually unlimited amount of colours, including realistic wood grain effects, metallic shades and a dual colour option.

For bi-folding doors, what configurations are available?
This will depend on the size of your opening and the layout of your home, but it is best to always think in odd numbers, so doors can fold/ slide in the same direction with a multi-point locking system. Larger individual panels are recommended, as it means there will be less aluminium to obstruct the view, allowing more glass and therefore light into your home. Opting for fewer door panels will also keep costs down due to the majority of material costs coming from the door profiles. Choosing a configuration with a lead door is also recommended as this can be used as an everyday access door. Doors can be made to different widths to suit the space you have and achieve the look that you want, and can be manufactured to open in or open out to maximise space.

Do I want a low threshold on my doors?
Thresholds are what the bottom trollies run along, and the trend is to make them as low as possible for aesthetic appeal, but be wary of suppliers stating that their flush or low thresholds are completely weather proof - they’re not. Weather rated thresholds are always advisable for a set of doors that lead from the internal space to an external one (kitchen to garden for example). Our recommendation would be to ask your builder to either raise the floor level to create a flush look or drop the track to the level of your floors. For internal doors, a low threshold is perfect as it will not be exposed to the elements.

For further information on Origin, please visit www.origin-global.com

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