The rise and rise of sliding doors

IDSystems’ David Clarke explains why self-builders should look beyond bi-fold doors when choosing a glazing option for a large opening


Where once upon a time bi-fold doors were a must have for any aperture of over four metres, now those embarking on major projects are faced with a decision to make. Historically bi-fold or folding doors have been a more prevalent product in Europe. The appeal of bi-fold doors comes from the ability to completely open an aperture, creating a seamless link between house and garden. It is therefore easy to understand why they have more of a heritage in Europe where the summer weather is generally warmer.

With the weather we have in the UK being more mixed, any glazing option that is incorporated into a design is likely to spend far more time each year closed than open, and as such bi-fold doors are not always the ideal solution. With significantly narrower frames and the possibility to include larger panes of glass within each panel of the door, sliding doors have the appeal of looking better closed, making them more suited to the British climate, especially where the size of the opening is even wider and even more so where the home enjoys the benefit of a particularly appealing view. Traditionally the issue has been finding the compromise between appearance and performance, but thanks to developments in technology it is now possible to have larger (and therefore heavier) sealed glass units of up to three metres wide while still ensuring the doors

july/august 2018

Sliding doors have the appeal of looking better closed

are easy to move.

Architects and homeowners have embraced the developments in door technology to create stunning, innovative and eye-catching projects with larger and larger openings. These projects have made their way into magazines and TV programmes, which in turn has driven further demand. This demand has

brought new suppliers and manufacturers into the market that has driven the rate of product development even further.


With sliding doors perfect for maximising the views out of a home and flooding rooms with natural light, there is a temptation to think they are the perfect solution to any design dilemma. However, as with any product they do come with compromises.

The biggest trade-off with sliding doors is that unless you are going to fit the doors on an extended track to open into a pocket, you are always going to lose an element of the opening to the fixed panel behind which the remaining panels slide. This trade-off is most keenly felt when the openings are smaller and it is why 29

hen discussing the strengths of and demand for glazing solutions it’s important to

remain unbiased, as all options have their own merit. At IDSystems, what we have witnessed over the last three to four years is a change in the market for glazing to fill large openings on extensions, renovations and self-build homes – and slim framed sliding doors have been at the heart of the change.

© IDSystems | Harvey Norman Architects | Andrew Hatfield Photography

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