Sliders vs Bi-folds

October 26 2022

The decision between bi-fold doors and sliding doors can be a tricky one. For many people, it ultimately boils down to personal preference or budget. Both sets of doors go the extra mile to create a connection between inside and outside space, provide lots of natural light and create a modern look.

This impartial comparison, which highlights the strengths and weaknesses of both sets of doors.

What is the difference between bi-fold and sliding doors?

To make the decision between installing a folding door or a sliding door in your home, it’s important to understand the differences between them, as well as the key benefits and disadvantages of each door system.

Bi-fold doors and sliding doors both offer a huge range of benefits, but the doors you choose will mainly be based on your needs and the space you have available.

Bi-fold Doors

Bi-fold doors are made up of a minimum of two door leaves which, when opened, fold back against themselves in a concertina style. The panels are connected by hinges and run back and forth along a top and bottom track using a carriage system.

Bi-fold doors have the ability to open up an entire opening, helping connect the inside of your home seamlessly with your outdoor space and create a more open plan home. They can also include an access or traffic door to allow ease of access between the garden or patio and your home without having to slide back all of the doors.

Pros of bi-fold doors

  • Can be fully opened to connect indoors and outdoors seamlessly
  • Traffic door option available
  • Wide range of options and configurations
  • Can open inwards or outwards
  • Aluminium frames are lightweight
  • Increase home value
  • Available with a low threshold
  • Work in a large or small opening

Cons of bi-fold doors

  • Require space to stack inside or outside the home
  • High number of frames can obstruct the view

Sliding Doors

Sliding doors are made up of two or more large panes of glass which move to the side and the panes sit behind one another.

These doors provide almost completely uninterrupted views and are ideal for large openings where you want to enjoy the natural light and views they provide as much as possible. However, unlike a bi-folding door, they don’t usually provide a 100% opening as the doors must slide back against each other, so one pane is always visible.

A sliding door system can also be a popular choice for homeowners with limited space as they do not require as much space to open as bi-fold doors.

Pros of sliding doors

  • Take up least amount of space when open when compared to bi-fold doors and French doors
  • Slim sightlines
  • Lightweight aluminium makes doors easy to slide
  • Large glass panels provide an unobstructed view whether doors are open or closed

Cons of sliding doors

  • Less convenient for quick access when compared to a French door or bi-fold door with a traffic door

Depending on the system, it can be more expensive than bi-fold or French doors

  • Flush track cannot be achieved due to space required for roller mechanism, but the track can be sunk into the floor
 

Bi-fold Doors

Sliding Doors

View when closed

Very good

Excellent

View when open

Excellent

Very good

Thermal efficiency

Very good

Very good

Ease of access

Excellent

Very good

Configuration variety

Excellent

Good

Space saving

Good

Excellent

Visual appearance

Excellent

Excellent

Affordability*

More affordable

Less affordable

 

Factors to consider: bi-fold vs sliding doors

This table offers a quick comparison of the factors to consider when choosing between bi-fold or sliding doors and how the two types of doors measure up against each other.

*depending on the system chosen

Outdoor views when doors are closed

Winner: Sliding doors

Sliding doors tend to offer the best views of your outdoor area as the panel sizes are often much bigger individually. With large maximum panel sizes, they are typically made up of more glass and less frame than bi-fold doors. With that said, high strength aluminium bi-folds can now be up to 1.2m wide, per panel, with an extremely slim frame.

Outdoor views when doors are open

Winner: Bi-fold doors

There is very little that competes with bi-fold doors when it comes to the panoramic views they can provide, as they allow you to completely remove any obstruction from inside to outside.

However, depending on the sliding doors you choose, you may still be able to benefit from a widescreen view into your world. For example, some Sliding Doors feature impressively large panels of glass that can be configured to work the way you want: slide all the way to the left, all the way right, or be staged intermittently.

Thermal efficiency

Winner: Both

As mentioned above, sliding doors are manufactured using more glass than door profile, meaning that they are very thermally efficient.

Bi-fold doors require more door profile, which can lower the thermal efficiency of the doors. However, many high quality bi-fold doors feature a polyamide break in the door profile, which goes lengths to ensure the doors exceed thermal efficiency regulations. In addition, whether you choose double glazing or triple glazing will also have an impact on the thermal efficiency of your home. Bi-fold Doors can achieve a U-Value of 1.1 and Sliding Doors can achieve a U-Value of 0.8 when using triple glazing.

Ease of access

Winner: Bi-fold doors

Bi-fold doors can completely open up by folding back on itself, so they offer a greater ease of access between the indoors and outdoors. Bi-fold doors are available with a lead door, which can be easily opened and closed like a regular single door. Sliding doors must always slide open. For quick access, you can open one door and open it as much or as little as you want.

Configuration variety

Winner: Bi-fold doors

It’s simple: sliding doors only come in 2, 4 or 6 door configurations. Whereas bi-fold doors can be configured in any number of panels, with some doors having over 10 panels, and the opening can be wherever you want, and doors can fold which way you’d prefer.

Space saving

Winner: Sliding doors

If your home is a more modest size, then sliding doors can be beneficial because they won’t take up any additional room like bi-fold doors do; they simply slide horizontally down the track. Because bi-fold doors require space to fold onto itself, you will need the required space either internally or externally to accommodate this.

Visual appearance

DRAW

This is really down to personal preference. Some people may prefer the completely unobstructed view that bi-fold doors can create when folded back, whereas others prefer the view sliding doors offer when closed.

Low threshold

DRAW

Bi-fold doors can achieve a seamless transition, as the threshold can be recessed into the floor, leaving roughly a 14mm lip when using a weathered threshold option, which will protect your home from water, wind and air. On the slider, the track can also be sunk into the floor, but allowances will need to be made for drainage.

Affordability

Winner: Bi-fold doors

Depending on the configuration and size, bi-fold doors can be more affordable than sliding doors.

Source: Alexandra Giles (www.origin-global.com)

Blog gallery:

Bi-fold
Bi-fold
Sliding door
Sliding door
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