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Bi-folding doors versus sliding patio doors

Determining the types of doors for an extension is a common quandary amongst people choosing to renovate their homes. While bi-folding doors (also known as folding-sliding doors) are all the rage at the moment, and they are undoubtedly stylish, you must pick the right type of door depending on your personal requirements, irrespective of popular trends.


The main advantage of bi-folding doors is that when open, you will get approximately a 90% clear opening with which to view and walk through to the outside of your home, whereas conventional sliding doors will usually provide somewhere in the region of 50-65% opening. If your main objective is to create a seamless transition between the interior and exterior of your home, bi-folding doors might be the correct choice for you. However, British weather is notoriously gloomy and you must factor in that the doors will be closed the majority of the time. When the doors are closed, bi-folding doors have more framework and less glass than conventional sliding doors, so this may be detrimental to the aesthetic view (if this is one of your requirements).

The traffic door

Many bi-folding doors are fitted with an access leaf, which allows one of the panels to function as a regular swing door, meaning you don’t have to fold away the entire system every time you want to dash in and out of the house. Sliding doors do not have this feature so take more effort to slide open and close every time you want to walk outside. If you are disabled or are a wheelchair user, the ease of use with bi-folding doors may be a deciding factor, as well as the extra width of the opening provided.


When open, bi-folding doors do need to be folded away somewhere, which means that extra space on either the interior or exterior of the home will be required. For example, if you have a small patio with restricted space, sliding doors might be the better option since they can be fitted on a double, triple or even quadruple rack for sliding the panels away. If lack of space is not an issue and you prefer the aesthetics of the bi-folding door, then they are probably the right choice for you.


While bi-folding doors are generally more expensive, there are such a vast range of different options throughout the industry, both in terms of materials and designs, that each option must be investigated individually. Every expensive new purchase warrants a significant amount of research, whether it is a new laptop computer, a car or the right selection of doors for your patio. As a rule of thumb, aluminium is at the higher end of the price spectrum whereas PVC is typically on the lower end, but the choice is normally dictated by the style of the property as well as the cost. For instance, a period property may work perfectly with wooden framework for the patio doors, whereas this material may look highly inappropriate for a more contemporary building.

The choice is yours

Ultimately, the key advantage of sliding doors is that they contain more glass and less framework, whereas bi-folding doors feature a wider opening but take up more space. Whichever direction you choose to go, remember to do the appropriate research and contact your local specialist for some valuable advice.