Which is better for your extension, sliding or bifolding doors?

Which is better for your extension - sliding or bifolding doors?

We’ve all seen them on many episodes of Grand Designs – those impressive sliding or bifolding doors which allow the proud self-builders to open up their main living space to the greenery and patio outside.
So it’s unsurprising they’ve become pretty popular for people planning an extension too.
But what exactly are they and what are the pros and cons of each?


Bifolding doors

Bifolding doors, also known as folding-sliding doors, slide and concertina together the open door panels. They can also include a standard door at one end, so you can go in and out without having to fold any of the panels.

Bifolding doors can open leaving the folded doors either inside or outside the room. Most people choose the latter to make best use of the space inside and avoid having to keep furniture inside clear of the folded doors.

Half-in, half-out is also possible to fit your space, but get in the way inside and outside.
Bifolding doors are very easy to install, even in small openings and are also very secure, as most feature multiple locking points and enclosed tracks to make breaking in more difficult.



Sliding doors

In contrast to bifolding doors, sliding doors open by moving to the side and, as the name suggests, simply sliding – leaving the panes behind one another.

Sliding doors don’t allow you to fully open the room to the outside but ‘pocket’ versions are available - which see the sliding doors go into the wall. They’re good when space is limited because they don’t need room to manoeuvre inside or outside, but can mean more solid wall in the room than you’d want.

Typical configurations provide a half, two-thirds and three-quarters opening, which are ideal for larger openings.


Sliding and bifolding doors compared

Both sliding and bifolding doors offer great benefits., Here are the factors to consider when deciding which is best for your extension:

  •  The view: sliding doors will offer the most unrestricted view of the outside most of the time, especially with just two large panels, one sliding over the other. By contrast, bifolding doors will only offer a full view when completely open.
  • Access: If access versatility is your priority, bifolding doors are best as they can open the whole space or as many panels as you want or need. Bifolding doors are also better for creating a level threshold for wheelchair users to cross and no lip for others to trip on.
  • Thermal performance: thermal bridging, so some sliding doors can be better at keeping your previous and pricey heat in. But performance varies with materials used.
  • Installation cost: Bifolding doors can work out more expensive than sliding doors, but cost depends on a number of factors including the manufacturer and the materials used, so speak to the designer about all the options and their cost implications.


Confused? Contact us to discuss your space and which option would suit it best.


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All Design is a dedicated, friendly team of architectural designers who work alongside external associates and consultants to help people across Scotland find property solutions through carefully-considered designs which respond to their needs, the site, budget and planning policy.

We have more than 30 years of experience in the industry and thrive on using a creative yet practical approach to design to improve space for people.

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