Did you know that us Brits are now twice as likely to tackle DIY projects in the summer than head abroad for a summer holiday in the sun? After redecorating, the garden is the most popular home improvement project for homeowners to undertake, with 23% of us planning a garden landscape and 12% investing in an extra dining area outside*.
With the ‘staycation’ booming, many of us want to seamlessly blend our garden with our homes so we can really enjoy summer living at its best. The easiest way to connect these spaces is by installing wide-span glazed doors – like bifold doors or glass sliding doors – but which option is better?
In this blog, we talk about the pros and cons of each to help you decide what’s right for you.
Large glass doors are meant to fill your living space with light and create a flow to the garden, so let’s look first at how they score on aesthetics.
Sliding doors have a higher glass to frame ratio which gives the best uninterrupted views when they’re closed. They’re perfect for very wide openings and, because they can accommodate larger panes of glass than folding doors and have less obtrusive framework, they maximise the amount of light in a room. With sliding doors however, you can only open one door, meaning there will still be a barrier between outside.
Bifold doors are ideal for openings up to 4 metres wide and can be fitted along a straight length, into a corner or around a curve. They require slightly more frame, which can break the view when the doors are closed, but they can be completely pulled back to create a sense of openness on warm, sunny days. They look really impressive when open and bring a real ‘wow’ factor to a space.
Bi-fold doors are a very flexible option; a single traffic door in the set can provide easy access to the garden and it can be configured to open either internally or externally.
Folding door sets usually consist of three or more individual leaves that can be up to 3.5m high and 1.2m wide. The panels glide along a track to concertina at one end and they can be either top or bottom hung to suit your home. Bi-folds generally come with flush tracks to give you a level threshold, which is ideal for wheelchair users, older people or families with young children.
The doors can be arranged so that they either fold to one side or are split to fold back on both sides, so you’ll need to think carefully about how you want your doors to stack. You’ll also need to consider if you want them to fold outwards into your garden, inwards into the room or a mixture of both. Bear in mind that you won’t want to position furniture or garden pots in front of them.
No longer heavy to pull and push into position, sliding doors are easy to manoeuvre along their tracks as long as they are kept clean. Most sliding door options are not available on flush tracks, which means that a small lip or step down would be created.
An advantage of sliding doors is that they don’t take up any space when pulled back, but this does however mean that around half of the opening will always be covered with glazing.
There are lots of configurations to choose from with sliding doors: the basic one fixed panel/one sliding panel option, two panes on a double track that slide and open at either end, two sliding centre panels that glide over fixed end panes and multiple track systems with sliding panes that stack one on top of the other. Sliding doors can even be used for corner designs with two sets of doors meeting at a 90⁰ angle.
Bi-folding doors are generally the more expensive option and prices depend on the quantity of door leaves required and the size required. Sliding doors are more cost effective and more straightforward to customise to suit your individual needs.
The most popular frame materials are PVCu, timber and aluminium.
• PVCu is low maintenance and the most affordable option but the frames are bulkier, which may be a drawback if you want to achieve a seamless transition with your garden. • Timber is warm and traditional, but less versatile than aluminium and it can often be expensive. • Aluminium offers the slimmest profile which equals virtually uninterrupted views. An investment purchase that will add value to your home, aluminium is sleek, durable and thermally efficient. Its strength means that it can typically achieve wider spans that timber and it can comfortably hold large panes of glass.
Don’t miss our blog next month where we’ll tell you all about how to maintain and care for your glazed doors.
With a range of aluminium products for all home improvers, REAL Aluminium can help you transform the way you live. Find your nearest retailer here.
* Research by AA Financial Services