Bi-fold and folding doors - All you need to know

Bifold Doors have been around since at least 1st Century AD (Pompeii), possibly even as early as 500BC (Jerusalem) and are used on everything from homes to aircraft hangars.

They are perhaps best known as cupboard doors but more recently they have become popular as a space-saving option for between rooms. This is because that due to the way they fold, they have less of a swing space than a normal hinged door. An added benefit is the tidy way the doors stack to one side when fully open.


                                                                                                             Folding Doors in 1st Century AD Pompeii ruins

A modern internal bi-fold door (2 halves) is fixed on the frame jamb side of an opening by several pieces of ironmongery. On this jamb side from the very top of the opening to the bottom you will normally have:

  • The top track which is fixed to your wooden door frame
  • A pivot socket which is fixed into the top track
  • A pivot plate fixed to the top of the door on one side and which houses the pivot socket
  • The jamb-half of the bi-fold door
  • Another pivot plate fixed to the bottom of the door
  • A floor bracket which is fixed to the floor and will house the bottom pivot plate.

(Please note that some bi-fold hardware kits will vary slightly from the above list depending on the make and model)                                 

                                                                                                                  Bifold door typical fittings

When fitting a bifold door and kit it is critical that all of these jamb-side items are fitted and pivot on the same vertical axis or it will be misaligned and will not operate properly. Alignment is vital!

Hinges hinge the jamb-half and leading-half of the bi-fold door together. Hinges will NOT be present between the door and the jamb of the frame(this is a fairly common misconception).         

Image of Worcester Oak Bifold Door                                           
                      Worcester oak bi-fold shown without hardware                                                                 Worcester oak bi-fold shown with hardware 

The top of the leading-half will have a locking arm and a track-hangar (usually with small wheels) fixed to it which rolls or slides along the top track. Some bi-fold hardware may also have a guide channel and bottom bracket on the leading-half too.

Because of the way that bi-fold doors pivot on the jamb axis and also because of the top-track and various plates, brackets and sockets; you will notice that the actual door-halves are smaller than expected. This is because the overall height and width shown on our website for these bifold doors does normally take the top track, pivot clearance and various other ironmongery into consideration too. I have actually lost track of the number of calls we get from alarmed customers stating that their bifold is too short! This is simply not the case.

                                                                                                                 Bi-folding door on an aircraft hangar

We do recommend that you use a flush fitting cupboard handle with your bifold as this will allow the leading-half to fold back flush and on top of the jamb-half. An elaborate lever handle will not allow this as it will get in the way due to its protrusion.

If using bi-fold doors as double doors in one opening then a simple timber plate may need to be attached to one door to cover the inevitable gap between doors when the bi-fold is in the closed position. This gap is due to the top track normally being slightly wider than the door halves and the previously mentioned larger than normal clearances required.


 External folding patio doors

Multifold doors work in similar principle to bi-fold doors and are great in that they can allow you to open up two smaller rooms into one larger room when fully open. External folding doors bring the outside inside by opening up your house to your garden or decking. Be aware that external folding doors will have a higher bottom track and draught excluder.


Why not see some of the folding doors for yourself (please click on the below links):

       Internal Bi Fold Doors                       Freefold White Folding Doors

       Internal single bi-fold doors                                      Internal Freefold multifold system

       Track at top.                                                                          Tracks at top and bottom.


        NuVu Roomfold Oak Folding Doors                      

        Internal Nuvu multifold system                          Nuvu multifold system in White   

       Track at the top only.                                                     Track at the top only.

       External Folding Doors                        High Performance Fully Finished External Bifold Doors

       External folding doors                                                  AluVu Aluminium patio doors

       Track at top and bottom with a cill at the bottom too.


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