AG MILLWORKS BLOG
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Tuesday, November 05 2019
If you’re beginning your home remodel or new construction project and plan to use a bi-fold door system to open your home to the outside and create a seamless indoor-outdoor living space, there are some things you need to know about ordering a bi-fold door. The ordering process for a 100% custom, handcrafted bi-fold door can be daunting because there are so many design options to choose from. Here is a guide to help you buy the perfect bi-fold door that will complement your space and create the outdoor living room of your dreams.
What Size Should Your Bi-Fold Door Be?
One important factor to consider when buying a bi-fold door is the size of the system. Unless you are building a new home, you are probably working with an existing space that needs to be reconfigured to accommodate a large opening for your bi-fold door.
How big do you want your opening to be? Do you want a standard 12’ opening, or something more dramatic? Bi-fold doors can be made with panel sizes as large as 4’ wide and 13’ tall.
The size of your opening depends on the space you’re working with; your bi-fold door is custom-made to fit your specific design needs with no upcharge for odd sizes.
What Bi-Fold Configuration is Best?
Another important decision to make when buying a bi-fold door is the system configuration. The bi-fold door configuration is the direction the doors fold when viewing the system from the exterior. Your door configuration will be based on the size and number of panels on your bi-fold door.
A standard 12’ bi-fold door system typically has four door panels, which can open in the following configurations: 4L (four left), 1L3R (one left, three right), 2L2R (two left, two right), 3L1R (three left, one right), or 4R (four right). Click here to see a full list of available configurations.
Odd Configurations are Best
It is best to choose an odd configuration for your bi-fold door if you want to have easy access to your outdoor space—only odd configurations have “daily doors” which allow you to operate a single door without opening the entire bi-fold system.
Odd configurations also allow for exterior access through your bi-fold. Odd configurations of a standard four panel bi-fold include: 1L3R or 3L1R. These two configurations provide a daily door with exterior access.
Special Configurations to Consider
Bi-fold doors have several special configurations that might be perfect for your space.
Zero-Corner | If you want to open an entire corner of your room to the outdoors, you may want to consider a zero-corner bi-fold door. This configuration features two bi-fold doors that meet at a 90-degree angle and have no supporting post at the corner. When doors are open, walls literally disappear.
Window-Door Combo | Another special bi-fold configuration available is the bi-fold window-door combination. This configuration features a bi-fold window and bi-fold door which connect at the center and can fold open to create open spaces and a kitchen passthrough window.
Don’t Forget Your Floorplan When Picking a Configuration
When deciding on the best bi-fold configuration for your new door system, be sure to take your floor plan and indoor and outdoor layouts into consideration. You want to make sure the configuration will work well with your furniture placement and layouts, and that your doors, when stacked open, won’t be in the way of any paths, furniture, or views.
Should Your Bi-Fold Door Be Energy Efficient?
Energy performance of your bi-fold is a big deal—especially in California. With new building energy standards going into effect under California’s Title 24 law in 2020, it is recommended that you choose an energy efficient bi-fold door with NFRC ratings that will meet the new requirements.
The benefits of choosing an energy efficient bi-fold door are as follows: less heat gain in the summer, less heat loss in the winter, more natural light, and more airflow. All of these translate to less overall energy consumption, lower electric bills, and better quality of life for you and your community.
What are the Most Durable and Quality Materials for Bi-Fold Doors?
Aluminum Clad/Wood Bi-Folds
Only the best, highest-quality bi-fold doors are made with aluminum clad exteriors and wood interiors. The aluminum clad exterior is strong and durable and withstands the elements while maintaining its’ beauty and sleek design. The wood interior is beautiful and luxurious and can be any of the 18 wood species available.
Solid Accoya Wood Bi-Folds
When your design requires a solid wood door, Accoya Wood bi-folds are the best option. Accoya is modified timber that is naturally treated through a unique acetylation process. Accoya resits rot, defies the elements, and stays strong for decades, making it the perfect material for solid wood bi-fold doors. Click here to download a free Accoya Wood brochure.
Another available material option for your bi-fold door is an all-wood system made from the wood species of your choice. Though this option has more risks associated with water and elemental damage, it could still be a good option for you if you have an expansive overhang protecting the exterior of the bi-fold.
Can Your Bi-Fold Door Be Any Color?
The exterior of your bi-fold door can be any color you choose. There are standard color options available, or you can choose any custom color you want. Your bi-fold exterior clad color can even be custom matched to the other doors and windows in your home to create a cohesive look.
The interior wood finish of your bi-fold door can be painted or stained. For a more contemporary look, doors can be painted black or white. To create a more traditional and classic design, doors can be stained to highlight the beautiful grain patterns.
Which Stiles and Rails are Best?
Door stiles are the vertical sides of the glass panel, and rails are the horizontal pieces at the top and bottom. There are multiple stile and rail options to pick from, however none of the are superior to another, and all are solely based on design taste and preference.
European Slim Stiles and Rails
The most popular stile and rail design is the European Slim. Euro Slim stiles and rails are the most narrow and contemporary option, with a width of 3-7/16”.
Traditional Stiles and Rails
Another design favorite is the Traditional stiles and rails. This design features top rails and stiles that are 4-3/4” with 7” bottom rails. This creates a more classic look and fits best with traditional-style homes.
Dynamic Stiles and Rails
The third option for your bi-fold door design is Dynamic stiles and rails. Dynamic stiles and rails are 4-3/4” wide and are a middle ground between European Slim and Traditional.
What is the Best Screen System for Your Bi-Fold Door?
Retractable accordion screens are the best screening option for your bi-fold door system. Screens are factory installed and fully integrated into the door jamb, creating a seamless design that slides open smoothly when needed.
The retractable screen is available in black or white pull handles and can accommodate bi-fold doors as wide as 32’ (when two screens meet in the middle) and 10’6” tall. Screens can be pocketed inside the door jamb to hide completely out of sight.
Can Your Bi-Fold Door Have Divided Lites?
Your bi-fold door can be made with almost any divided lite configuration you can imagine. Bi-folds can even be made with divided lite configurations that match the existing doors and windows in your home.
Divided lites are available in various sizes and shapes and can enhance your home design and create a more prominent cottage, craftsman, or contemporary style.
Handle Sets - Don't Overlook These!
There are plenty of standard handle set options, modern and traditional, that are available in various finishes, so there is bound to be one that will match your style. If you cannot find the perfect hardware for your design, there are special order options also available.
Which Sill is Best for Your Bi-Fold?
The best bi-fold sill is the Raised Aluminum Sill because it offers the best protection from water penetration. This sill is recommended for all bi-fold doors because it is extremely weather-tight.
If you require a smoother transition from inside to out, the Ultra Guide Sill might be the best one for you. This sill is a track that is completely flush with the floor, however it risks water penetration.
Can Your Bi-Fold Door Have a Matching Transom Above It?
Your bi-fold can be made with a matching transom to maximize the natural light in your space. Bifold-transom combinations are engineered to withstand the risk of header deflection.
To talk to a bi-fold door expert about your upcoming project, please fill out this contact form or call 805-644-4494.