Aluminium Bifold vs Slider Door - which is more robust? Which will last the longest?

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Krome10

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Hi all

We're looking to have new doors put in soon. The opening is 2.1m wide x 2.05m tall. I've been reading and thinking lots about it these last few days and I've got all the usual pros and cons covered, i.e. being able to open the whole thing up with bifolds (but needing space for the concertina'd folds), smaller sight lines of sliders, etc. etc.

For my situation both could potentially work. If going for sliders I would look for something with 2 panels and a sightline of around 35-45mm. If going for bifolds I would only consider 3 panels, and models with the smallest sightlines. So the Smarts Visofold 6000 would be the pick of the bunch at 94mm, though I might consider the Origin OB-49 at 110mm (and there's a couple of others in between).

The thing I'm not finding much info on - and what could end up being a deciding factor - is how robust they are. A local supplier / fitter recently said he would choose sliders every time. He said they are often going back to repair bifolds put in years ago and some customers are opting to have them changed for sliders because they just keep having problems. Would anyone agree / disagree with this.

If there is some truth in it, could it also be the case that having bifolds with smaller frames could mean they're even less robust?

Or in our case, would a triple pane in a 2.1m opening means the leafs are small enough to be ok even of the frames are thin?

Any thoughts most welcomed :)

Many thanks

PS - Definitely don't want french doors.
 

Richard_C

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We went through the same thinking last year, 2 doors one c 2m one c 2.8m. We ended up with sliders. The channels are inside, in other words the moving half travels inside the fixed half. We have friends with the channel outside so it needs to be cleaned out occasionally or it gets a bit rough to slide.

The main determinant was the space needed for bifolds to stick in or out, it would have been awkward on one door and we wanted a pair. Other things included the overall style and location, had it been a contemporary house with a big flat patio bifold with coloured frames would have been the answer but ours isn't like that. Few houses look like the ones in the brochures. I wanted to be able to open it a crack for ventilation, or a lot and sliders stay where they are put. Almost half the width open is plenty in our situation. I wanted something simple to use, I'm 70 and in 10 or 15 years time having a big handle to tug on and slide the door with no complication might be an asset.

They replaced some truly dreadful doors that we lived with for 25 years, not even proper French but single doors in single door frames, 2 and 3 respectively, so you always had a pillar.

They made a huge difference in winter, rooms felt much cosier with no drafts and thick double glazing. They were fitted in Autumn so this is the first summer. On sunny days I can make my mug of tea and mug in one hand open the house up to the garden with the other. Very happy.

We all have different needs though, function and overall style are important.
 

Lazurus

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I have a 3m bifold in the workshop, apart from cleaning the channel out once in a while its fine. I would suggest getting a good quality bi fold as some of the cheaper ones are shocking.
 

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RobinBHM

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I have an old sliding patio door set in my house, personally I really like the versatility of a slider.

we have a dog and having a slider means we can open it 8” for our dog to go in and out or have it fully open.

Ive never even thought only being able to open up half way to be a negative.

in your situation you would get a clear opening of say 1 metre with sliders and say 1.7m with bifolds, I’m not sure the extra is worth it.

also a slider has a less interrupted view
 

Terry - Somerset

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Just thinking about the "mechanics".

A slider has a track with (probably) 2 wheels on (probably) just one door. The seal needs to fit a door/frame gap which remains constant.

A bifold has a track, with (probably) one wheel per fold - (probably 3). The frames need to rotate with respect to the wheels. The doors are hinged - (probably) 2 or 3 per fold). Seals need to compress across the door/frame gap which is variable.

Add more mechanical linkages into any device and the potential for failure increases. Not remotely suggesting bifolds don't work - but they do need to be engineered to higher quality and precision with cost consequences.
 

gcusick

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We have two bifolds, one 3.6m in 4 panels, the other 4.5m in 5. They’ve been in for a bit over 9 years, and aside from some adjustments over the first year (as the house settled), they’ve worked well, only needing an annual clean of the track and gaskets. The smaller one is arranged as 1+3, so we can open 1, 2 or all 4 panels. The larger is 1+4, so it’s really 1, 3 or all 5 open. Can’t overemphasise how good it is to be able to open the whole wall on summer days.
 

Stevekane

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Hi all

We're looking to have new doors put in soon. The opening is 2.1m wide x 2.05m tall. I've been reading and thinking lots about it these last few days and I've got all the usual pros and cons covered, i.e. being able to open the whole thing up with bifolds (but needing space for the concertina'd folds), smaller sight lines of sliders, etc. etc.

For my situation both could potentially work. If going for sliders I would look for something with 2 panels and a sightline of around 35-45mm. If going for bifolds I would only consider 3 panels, and models with the smallest sightlines. So the Smarts Visofold 6000 would be the pick of the bunch at 94mm, though I might consider the Origin OB-49 at 110mm (and there's a couple of others in between).

The thing I'm not finding much info on - and what could end up being a deciding factor - is how robust they are. A local supplier / fitter recently said he would choose sliders every time. He said they are often going back to repair bifolds put in years ago and some customers are opting to have them changed for sliders because they just keep having problems. Would anyone agree / disagree with this.

If there is some truth in it, could it also be the case that having bifolds with smaller frames could mean they're even less robust?

Or in our case, would a triple pane in a 2.1m opening means the leafs are small enough to be ok even of the frames are thin?

Any thoughts most welcomed :)

Many thanks

PS - Definitely don't want french doors.
When you say that “PS - Definitely don't want french doors.” Is that because of the bulk of two doors closed? If so we had a pair of upvc french doors made by a regular DG company where they used window profile sections, the result has been good and weve had no issues with it. It uses regular locksets on both doors. The doors are our back door into the garden so they have had considerable use over more than 20yrs. I would guess that a lot of DG people would tell you its not possible and I think you might need to find one who is prepared to be a bit creative. Our neighbours have Sliders and they are hard work to open and getting stiffer!
Steve.
 

TomGW

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We are currently in the middle of a living room/kitchen extension with a glazed corner consisting of a 4.6m slider and a 1.9m fixed panel. The company supplying the window and door is considered to be the best local (NI) supplier, with uPVC and aluminium options for both sliding and bifold.
I am friendly with the owner and his unequivocal advice was uPVC slider - no contest. This is coming from an established supplier of 30+ years standing, widely regarded as the best in the business.
 

Spectric

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I would have question that because having seen aluminium bifolds from the company I mentioned you would be hard pressed to compete with anything made from plastic, these bi folds are an engineering wonder that just glide but do not come cheap as they are closer to commercial grade than home.
 

TomGW

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I would have question that because having seen aluminium bifolds from the company I mentioned you would be hard pressed to compete with anything made from plastic, these bi folds are an engineering wonder that just glide but do not come cheap as they are closer to commercial grade than home.

The original question was, “which will last the longest?”.
That was similar to my question, “which door will operate as smoothly as day one, after 10 or 20 years?”. The answer I got was unequivocal and totally gelled with my gut feeling.
 

Spectric

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The original question was, “which will last the longest?”.
So comparing plastic to anodised aluminium, I would say that the plastic sliding patio doors would be hard pushed to last 20 years and still operate smoothly without issues, but then you could possibly replace at ten years and it would still be less expensive than the bi folds.
 

ian33a

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Bi-fold, over that opening will generally be uncomplicated. The more sections you add the more the opportunity for misalignment and mechanical breakages you introduce.

When we were in the window repair business we avoided repairing bifold doors as they were generally of poor quality and replacement parts were hard to obtain.

A slider is easier. Generally one fixed pane and one slider. The frames are introduced into the void and a subframe is made around each glazing unit and inserted in the fixed frame. The slider has rollers, which last for at least 15 years (and are cheap to replace) and the locking systems generally remain in alignment as their position is set at the point of manufacture and cannot drop because the rollers don't sag. The downside is that you cannot completely open the windows and enjoy the whole space.

Both window systems have glazing units which can fail over time. The more units there are in the window system, the higher the risk that any one of the units will fail.

An aluminium frame is generally slimmer in profile and wont suffer uv damage over time. Units of the size stated by the OP will be absolutely fine in upvc if correctly specified and the framework is generally cheaper.

Personally, for longevity, I would pick the sliding window system, ideally in aluminium, and accept that the whole void cannot be opened up.
 

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