Bifold doors can have a stunning visual impact on your home. Think of a concertina or accordion: these doors work just like that. They are made of panels that fold back against themselves and against the wall. They’re often used to create a beautiful transition from indoor and outdoor spaces (e.g. the kitchen to the patio or porch) or to separate large rooms without creating a confining feeling. Yes, they are elegant, but there are pros and cons of bifold doors that you should be aware of before you plan on installing them.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Folding Glass Doors
Some pros of bifold doors:
- They are easy to install. Bifold doors are great solutions when you want to replace a wall of your home, install a door in a small opening without losing any more space, or you’re looking for a solution for corners and bay windows.
- You can opt for a “traffic door.” If you just want to enter or exit the home quickly, you can include a traffic door; this keeps you from having to open all of the panels for ingress or egress.
- There’s a low threshold. Traditional patio doors are installed on raised tracks – which creates raised thresholds. You can install your bifold doors flush to the floor, which is undoubtedly pleasing visually. It is also safer for folks who have mobility issues, and for all of us who are prone to tripping over the slightest obstacle (usually while carrying a tray full of food from the kitchen to the grill)!
- You can include anti-bump and finger-safe features, which are great if you have small children.
- Maintenance is easy; give your doors a wipe down with your favorite cleaning fluid every now and again.
- You can add style to your home and increase the level of natural light and fresh air. Bifold doors are a great way to blur the lines between indoors and out and take advantage of the gorgeous Florida weather and sunshine.
- When you opt for high-quality doors, you get multiple locking points. Combined with a strong aluminum structure, you’re looking at some of the most secure patio doors on the market.
What about some cons?
- Bifold doors are constructed so that each pane has its own frame. When the doors are closed, it can obstruct the view somewhat. This may or may not be a pressing issue for you, but it is something to consider.
- The lack of a threshold is a benefit in terms of safety. However, if the doors are not installed properly, you have no barrier between indoors and out. Water can seep in or get blown into the house. A proper drainage system is the best way to counteract this con.
- The concertina-effect means that bifold doors will stack up inside your home. If you have limited space, it’s important to consider whether this is the right solution for you.
Examine the advantages and disadvantages of bifold doors, and don’t be afraid to ask your custom home builder or professional installer for advice.
Can Bifold Doors Handle Florida’s Extreme Weather?
Are glass wall systems really a good idea in a region that regularly sees intense storms and hurricanes? This is a critical question to ask yourself before you launch your project.
Folding glass doors may not seem like the best idea in Florida, but constructed properly, they can be incredibly strong and resilient. While glass bifold doors don’t come standard in most South Florida model homes, there are systems that can protect your custom-built home from the risks that lesser glass doors would normally pose in a hurricane.
The first element to incorporate is reinforced vertical posts. You don’t want to rely on folding glass door systems that pivot via ball bearings; you want them hinged to the posts. The posts themselves run along the track and don’t pivot. This feature immediately improves the strength of the entire door system against high winds and pelting rain.
Some glass wall systems rely on support from the top. The floor rail doesn’t support the weight of the doors, but is only used as a guide. These systems are not sturdy against either strong gusts or sustained high winds. Folding glass doors in Florida should be floor-supported. Something as simple as relying on gravity and the weight of the doors improves stability substantially.
This is incredibly important for all new homes in Palm Beach county – or for new homes in any South Florida county, really. Many overlook the importance of raised sills, but when you get water pushing or running against the door, low sills and bad sealing mean you’ll get water and mud pushed into your home. That can ruin your flooring in the short run and invite heavy mold growth in the long run. A high-performance, raised sill will offer you more protection against heavy downpours and the flooding that results.
Hurricanes and other storms in Florida dump saltwater on your home. This invites corrosion, which means glass wall systems must use corrosion-resistant materials. Aluminum frames and panel profiles fill this need, but many forget about other elements. Don’t forget that the rollers and hinges should be made from stainless steel. This isn’t just about looks; corrosion can weaken the strength of a door in several key areas. Regardless of whether you’re ready to build a custom home or simply shopping for new home models, this is an important factor to take into consideration.
Glass wall systems are rated by different regulatory groups for different areas. Ask about ANSI and ASTM ratings when looking at folding glass doors, but don’t stop there. The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) both certify for very precise ratings in air and water resistance, condensation resistance, force entry protection, and many other categories.
Talk to Synergy Homes – a top Florida custom home builder – today about incorporating bi-fold and other folding glass doors or wall systems into a custom-built home of your own. And be sure to check out this next link for more cool things to include when building a house!
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