BI FOLD DOOR ALTERNATIVES
James Bernard is director of Plus Rooms, a design and build company that has completed over 1,000 extension projects.
Bifold doors have long been the go-to choice for homeowners looking to maximise light and provide access to their garden. But they might not always be the best option for small gardens. James Bernard suggests some alternatives.
Sliding doors are perfect for maximising the connection with outside spaces. The simple mechanism allows for bigger door panels and thinner frames, so there is less obstruction than with bifold doors. This is quite important in Britain as the doors will remain closed for most of the year. They are ideal for smaller gardens as furniture can be left outside right up to the back wall – even with the doors open. Hidden pocket versions are also starting to emerge which allow the sliding doors to be set into the wall to create a complete open wall.
Crittal-style doors are perfect for those looking to bring an urban feel to their extension, and work really well with the current trend for all things industrial. The sturdy frames are still relatively slim, resulting in plenty of light, and a seamless combination of doors and windows can be created in a rear wall to provide access to the garden. They look particularly good when angles or rectangular.
Picture windows are usually larger than conventional types and bring more light into the room. Often paired with separate large single doors, they frame views really well, but still allow furniture to be placed up against the wall. As they have no opening mechanism, they are usually less costly than traditional windows and provide better insulation – ideal for keeping energy bills down. The windows are also easier to maintain, thank to their simple frames, without the parts and nooks of other types of windows.
Bifold doors can be used in combination with other glazed features, such as a project structural window seat. The projects space brings more light into the house and can be used all year round. The resulting smaller bifolds also take less effort to open and don’t take up as much space in the outside area, making it an ideal compromise for mid-sized gardens.