The open and shut case for bi-folds

Homeowners are increasingly looking for glazed extensions, light-filled rooms and the additional space needed for versatile living. Steve Bromberg of Express Bi-folding Doors discusses why aluminium glazing products are the answer for opening up conservatory build plans

Providing that it’s in keeping with the style of the build, installing a conservatory or orangery can dramatically improve the layout of a home – and add value. Conservatories can incorporate a choice of glazing fixtures, including roof lanterns, a fully glazed roof, and be framed with either bi-folding or sliding doors.

From a dining room to a sun room, the possibilities are endless. Adding another room in the form of a conservatory or orangery can add up to 10 per cent onto the value of a property, as well as creating a versatile living space.

Aluminium bi-folding doors are a strong choice to incorporate as part of a conservatory or orangery. They’re renowned for their durability and functionality and even small or simple conservatories can benefit from bi-folding doors, completely transforming
their appeal and increasing light and perceived space.

Why aluminium?

Aluminium is one of the most durable options for conservatory glazing. It’s worth checking the products you choose have Secured By Design accreditation, which means they have been rigorously tested to comply with police standards against break-ins.

One of the most eco-friendly metals, thermally broken aluminium is also incredibly durable, lightweight and versatile. Aluminium can also be powder coated in a choice of over 200 RAL colours to achieve the effect of timber or other materials, meaning you gain the benefits of a resilient, eco-friendly material but without the maintenance problems of natural materials like wood.

Why choose bi-folding or sliding doors?

There are many benefits to using bi-folding or sliding doors on a conservatory, as opposed to more traditional choices like French doors. For starters, bi-folding doors open up to 90 per cent of the aperture they’re in, completely transforming how a conservatory is used during the warmer months. Recent advances in door design have also led to some options having frame sightlines of less than 40 mm, creating near-panoramic views between the indoors and out.

In terms of sliding options, lift and slide mechanisms are heavy-duty yet effortless to operate, as the door glides on lifted ball bearings. Some designs can also drop down into the track, so it locks in any open position – ideal for family gatherings.

Choosing between bi-folding and sliding door options

First consider the amount of space you have to work with. If the space you have is less than four metres wide, then bi-folds might be the best option. With spaces of this size, bi-folds look much more impressive than sliding doors when open, creating a real wow- factor and transforming the space completely. This helps open up the indoors to the garden or outdoor space, bridging the gap between the two.

However, it’s important to remember that with bi-folding doors comes additional framework which may detract from a seamless view.

Sliding doors often look better when they’re closed, because the large panels and minimal framework facilitate virtually uninterrupted views and a flood of light to enter the room. If the aperture that you have to work with is over four metres wide, sliding doors may be the smarter option, although both do work well.

Glazing designed with a purpose

Installing an aluminium conservatory means you will not only enjoy the outdoors a little longer in the winter, but also throughout the summer, with specialist thermal glazing technology in the form of solar glass. The heat is kept inside the conservatory in the winter, and reflected away in the summer.

Self-cleaning glass is also a great option as it’s virtually maintenance free. The permanent self-cleaning coating uses UV light and rain to actively break down dirt that builds up on the surface of the glass, keeping the panels cleaner for longer. With the wealth of options available, it’s easy to create a solution that suits your build. The beauty of aluminium is not only its eco-friendly qualities, but also that you can fully customise the colour to suit the design requirements with over 200 RAL colours available.

Steve Bromberg is managing director of Express Bi-folding Doors