Choosing Between Bi Folding Doors And a Sliding Pivot Door System

If you are considering a bi fold door as part of your home improvement or renovation, there are two main types of opening configurations. The primary design is a set of hinged bi folding doors and the more recent alternative is the sliding pivot door system. The two styles look similar when fully opened or closed but there are significant differences.

Choosing the correct configuration depends on the layout of the house and the natural pathways of the occupants.

Many people may now be familiar with bi folds, as they have become increasingly popular since the turn of the century. Frames are typically made of wood, plastic or metal (or a combination) and each of the panels are hinged in a way that enables them to fold, zig-zag fashion like an accordion or concertina, as they slide open along top and bottom rail guides to reveal a wide, walk-through space.

Similarly, the sliding pivot system is fully retractable for opening up a wide walk-through space.

Slide and turn doors were introduced in the uk five years ago as a means of reducing door frame widths – if the frames were not required to accommodate hinges for folding, they could be slimmer. Aluminium door frames are less noticeable in cool grey tones and measure less than 20cm (much less than an inch) at each side of the double-glazed panels.

More recently, the hinge and locking systems for bi fold patio doors have been better engineered to meet contemporary lifestyles and are also being manufactured with ultra slim side frames to the doors.

Although difficult to tell apart, visually, from a set of bi folds, slide and pivot (or slide and turn) doors are very different in the way they open. The panels are not hinged together, therefore each one slides and pivots open individually.

How Bi Folding Doors Work

A simple three door system will have a main door that pivots open, like most normal doors in a typical house. It may be positioned to the left or the right of the set of doors and will fold back onto the adjoining (centre) door.

If more walk-through space is required, the set of doors is pushed away from the gap which was created by opening the original pivot door, folding at the hinges, to rest at the far side of the opening.

How Sliding Pivot Doors Work

With a similar three door system, the main door (most left or most right of the set) will pivot open away from the other two doors. The adjacent (centre) door will then slide towards the gap vacated by the original opening door and will then pivot open to stack next to – and parallel with – the main door that was first opened. There is now a wider gap, a double width door space, enabling additional access.

If required, the process may be repeated with the final door panel, to maximise the walk-through space of a three door width installation.

A four door slide and pivot system works identically to the three door system but the zig zag opening combination of bi folding doors provides for other opening options. For example, there may be a two plus two centrally opening door set, similar to bi folding French doors.

An Informed Decision

It is essential to make the right choice of configuration to suit the family’s lifestyle and a good door company will have experienced sales staff to help you with the correct decision.

Good quality doors are manufactured to specific measurements to ensure an exact fit. Correct and careful installation by experienced installers will result in a door that opens and closes properly and without effort. A well fitted door system will also enhance energy efficiency in the home.

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