Published: May 2, 2022
In a nutshell? Bifold patio doors are hinged glass panels that hang from the ceiling, folding against the wall for a completely unobstructed view when opened. Installation typically requires a general contractor to bolster the ceiling, and reinstallation if the home shifts. In contrast, sliding patio doors move along tracks on the floor and ceiling, and stack against a stationary panel (or hide within the wall) when opened.
Whether you have the Valley of the Sun’s natural beauty or a meticulously landscaped patio in your backyard, it can be hard to tear yourself away from the view. What if you’d like to invite all of it in—to feel the cool breeze and warm sunshine, hear the birds chirping and leaves rustling, and smell the unique scent of the desert?
Bifold patio doors might be the perfect solution.
Also called multifold doors, they’re made to create the kind of experience you’re looking for. With this unique style of door, you can “go big” by making the outside feel like an extension of your living space.
So what are bifold patio doors?
Imagine a series of connected glass panels that expand and collapse like an accordion. When fully opened, the doors stack into a narrow profile, folded tightly along the wall. The entire opening is completely open, providing expansive access to the panorama beyond your walls, and removing all boundaries between the interior and exterior of your home.
Bifold doors are typically used for large openings that are wider than something a standard French door or sliding glass door can accommodate, often running the full width and height of a wall.
Both bifold patio doors and sliding glass doors have a metal frame around each panel of glass, but bifold panels are typically narrower, so you’ll see more framing when the doors are closed. However, unlike sliding doors, they provide an unmatched view when open.
Absolutely nothing is in the way.
In contrast, opened sliding glass doors will still have at least one stationary panel obstructing the view, sometimes even two or more. You can choose a multi-slide pocket door, which hides the panels in the wall, but these are typically best for new construction, where the wall can be constructed much thicker to allow for the stacked panels. Otherwise, substantial construction is required, and you sacrifice a bit of interior square footage.
But either way, whether you choose bifold patio doors or sliding doors, be prepared to enjoy the new infusion of natural light, with stunningly framed scenery as a focal point. It can be quite an improvement!
You may be thinking, “Hey, this is fantastic for pleasant weather, but what about our ‘colder’ winter months and especially the sweltering summer months?” During those times of the year, fully opening those bifold patio doors isn’t the best idea for your utility bill. Instead, you can simply swing open one of the panels, which is an easy access solution for everyday use. You can come and go in a more energy-efficient manner.
How are bifold patio doors built?
The variety of bifold patio doors may surprise you, with options and upgrades ranging from size and materials to energy efficiency. Height can range from a standard door height to soaring 16-foot ceiling heights, and widths based on the size of the opening and number of panels. So if you have a long stretch along the patio that’s simply begging to be opened up, bifold patio doors could be a wonderful element to incorporate into your home.
Now here’s where it can get a little tricky (and costly). Unlike sliding patio doors, bifold patio doors hang from a header. They’re very heavy, so it needs reinforcement to avoid compromising stability of the ceiling and roof. The home must be able to withstand the weight of the panels, both stationary and moving.
This reinforcement always requires construction and the skills of a general contractor, which can be expensive.
Also, as the house settles, the bifold doors do not have much room for adjustment. If you start to experience difficulty moving the panels, they likely need to be reinstalled. This is another cost to consider, since retrofitting the doors may be required multiple times as the years go by.
Bifold patio doors can be worth every penny when it comes to your quality of life, but it’s important to know upfront that bifold patio doors are a high-end option that costs more to install and maintain than sliding glass doors. You’re likely to see more of a boost to your home’s resale value if you sell, but the upfront cost and maintenance can be significantly more.
When would bifold patio doors make sense over other door options?
Bifold patio doors offer a distinctive design aesthetic that dramatically opens up a house and makes an impactful statement. Especially if you like to host frequent parties and family get-togethers, entertaining can take on a whole new vibe. It brings the outdoors in to fully enjoy the weather and back yard, while opening the floorplan to encourage mingling and moving.
Even with doors closed, bifold doors showcase the view as a striking backdrop to any gathering or quiet family moment.
As a homeowner, there’s another thing to consider. With more and more people working at home, it’s never been a better time to make home improvements—and this is one that can dramatically impact the feel AND functionality of a home. If you enjoy the patio, grill and pool, it’s certainly something that might make sense. You won’t feel as cooped up in the house if you can open the walls, right?
And when it comes time to sell, it’s a very, very attractive feature to homebuyers.
If you’re interested in learning more, we’d like the opportunity to come out to your home and discuss the options and costs. We install multiple brands and styles, and can talk through the pros and cons of each one specific to your home. Schedule an in-home estimate today!