The Basics of Bifold Doors
- September 22, 2020
- Posted by LaCantina Doors
You’ve seen them in high-end magazine ads, at your favorite fusion restaurant, inside big conference hotels, maybe even at a friend’s house: bifold doors. Also called folding doors or accordion doors, bifold doors create open spaces in a way that’s visually intriguing and, let’s be honest, a lot of fun to operate.
Thinking about adding bifolding glass doors to your new or existing home? Here are some basic things to know and to consider as you make your decision.
WHAT IS A BIFOLD DOOR?
A bifold door features two or more panels hinged together at the ends so that, as they slide open, they easily “fold” or stack together and come to rest off to one side. To close, the panels slide from the stack and begin to straighten out again, finishing end to end.
Bifold sliding glass doors can add practical and aesthetic benefits to both commercial and residential spaces. On the commercial side, think of a hotel ballroom where a glass-paneled wall is pulled back to create a larger meeting space, or a restaurant that connects an indoor dining area with fresh air and patio seating by stacking the glass panels that separate them to one side.
Glass bifold doors can be used to elevate a multitude of residential spaces, from countertop servery windows that glide to one side to let you serve drinks to your guests to multi-panel glass door systems that open up an entire wall for access and fresh air. They can also serve as dividers for larger interior rooms, with opaque or translucent glass panels to help create visual privacy.
BIFOLD DOOR SIZES - SMALLEST TO LARGEST OPENING, CUSTOM VS. STANDARD
What’s the smallest opening for bifold doors with glass?
A bifold door system requires at least two panels to allow it to fold. So the smallest opening will equal approximately two of the smallest panels the system’s manufacturer produces. Here at LaCantina, our minimum size standard two-panel bifold patio doors can fit an opening of 6’ wide by 7’ tall (numbers are rounded slightly). Custom sizes may also be produced.
What’s the largest opening for a bifold door system with glass?
If you’re looking to go big, well, these systems can get pretty big. A standard LaCantina folding door system features up to six panels for an opening width of 17.5’ and a height of 8’. A custom LaCantina bifold door system can include as many as 20 panels (opening from the center, with 10 panels moving in either direction), with a system height up to 10’+ and a maximum opening width of 65’.
Custom bifold system vs. standard size – what’s right for my home?
Custom bifold doors will let you get exactly what you want – any panel configuration, any size. But consider choosing a standard size bifold door system if you want to receive the system more quickly (they require less lead time) and/or are on a budget.
If you’re thinking about replacing an existing door system and want an idea of what size bifold doors will work, check out our blog post on how to measure for bifold doors in three easy steps.
BENEFITS AND ADVANTAGES OF BIFOLD DOORS
Bifold doors create a large, unobstructed opening. A folding door system offers a much larger opening than a swing door can. And, unless your sliding door system disappears into a wall pocket, the operational panels will all come to rest next to a fixed panel still in place at the far end. The glass panels in a bifold system, on the other hand, stack open neatly out of the way. (Typically, only multi slide systems can get big enough to create larger openings than folding systems.)
They are easy, elegant, and fun to operate. Undo the lock and pull the handle. Bifold doors move smoothly on a top or bottom track and “accordion” together with little effort. (We recommend a system hung at the top for lasting performance, as you’ll never have to worry about your bifold doors getting “hung up” on debris that’s fallen into the bottom track.) Plus, it’s sort of relaxing to watch them fold in on each other. Your bifold door system can also include an optional swing door at one end, which allows quick, easy in/out access without having to open the full door system.
Folding doors still offer plenty of light and views when they’re closed. Especially the ones we make. Our bifold door glass panels can be 39” wide and 120” tall without the need for horizontal mullions interrupting the view. That’s because our frames and panels are so highly engineered that they don’t require additional support. So you see more glass – and welcome in more light.
THINGS TO CONSIDER AS YOU SELECT YOUR BIFOLD DOORS
Consider the surrounding space before you decide on accordion doors. Since the panels in a bifold wall system extend outward or inward and stack together at the end, be sure that your home exterior or interior has ample space for the panels to operate. Can the panels fold outward without bumping into fencing or permanent features such as a built-in seating or planters? Can they fold inward without crowding a seating area or grazing light fixtures? Is there enough room for them to stack together without blocking walkways or hallways? If you’re short on space, a sliding system might be a better choice.
Bifold doors, even large systems, can be surprisingly energy efficient. LaCantina folding door systems offer a choice of energy-efficient glass packages for a variety of climates. Exceptional engineering means we can also add thermal breaks that help maintain comfortable temperatures inside homes located in more extreme climates. But the biggest difference in creating an energy-efficient bifold door system comes down to constructing it from a material best suited for that geographic area. For example, LaCantina offers bifold door systems in Aluminum, Aluminum Thermally Controlled, Aluminum Wood, Contemporary Clad, Wood, and Vinyl. Each one offers the right level of performance for a particular climate, from moderate to extreme.
Bifold doors can work beautifully in coastal homes and businesses. Worried about a wall of glass between you and coastal storms? Don’t be. LaCantina folding door systems include Wind Zone certified and high velocity hurricane zone (HVHZ) options.
Worried about bugs? We offer screen options that complement our bifold exterior patio doors. The screen is mounted inside, so you can open the bifold door system and then pull the screen shut. Select screens can include a blind option that adds privacy while the door system remains open.
It’s time to Live the LaCantina Life! Learn more about our bifold door systems here.
Browse our gallery to find bifold door ideas.
For expert assistance with choosing the right system and calculating the most accurate cost estimate for the results you want, please request a quote online or call us at 888.221.0141. A LaCantina representative will help you compare the systems and materials that work best with your local climate and answer specific questions about your home or business.