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Bi- fold doors or French Windows?

(27 Posts)
linspins Mon 08-Feb-16 21:25:25

We are moving to a 1960s house and doing quite a lot of renovation to it. The largest room backs on the the garden, and will be our living and dining room, with a semi- open plan kitchen in the next room. We are hoping to change a large picture window in to an opening, either for bi fold doors or French Windows. Are there pro's and cons to either? Our 'look' won't be ultra modern, but quite a mixture of inherited furniture and some fifties stuff. Has anyone got any thoughts either way?

Devora Mon 08-Feb-16 21:29:03

Purely personal prejudice, but I prefer French windows.

I expect I'll be in the minority, though grin

linspins Mon 08-Feb-16 21:44:51

Devora, I do too....I have such fond memories of my grandparents house having these. Not sure if the proportions work ok though, the window that will be the opening is just over 2 metres wide.

Devora Mon 08-Feb-16 22:01:06

I don't think bifold doors will age well - they will be creaky, leaky monstrosities in 15 years and everyone will be ripping them out! Could you do French windows with a glazed strip down one side [desperately snatching at any solution that doesn't involve bifolds].

linspins Mon 08-Feb-16 22:23:01

In my head though, French Windows are always wooden. We have to have upvc ones. Will it look crap?

IloveCheese11 Wed 10-Feb-16 00:29:40

We are getting aluminium french windows and they are going to look fab! Personal taste, but UPVC can look crap if you go cheap. Good quality UPVC can look like wood. My friend has quality UPVC sashes and I didn't believe her when she said they weren't wood. They look great.

Or alternatively, have you thought of sliding doors? The would work well in a 1960s house, are very practical and are becoming fashionable again. There are some really great styles out there now. I would have liked them but our window opening wasn't big enough.

gruffalocake2 Wed 10-Feb-16 10:00:08

I also think french doors. You can get decent upvc I think but wood would be klovely.

Bifolds look good in magazines but when I see them at friends' houses they are never fully open (because we don't have the weather for it) and so they get half opened and look kind of messy. They also make me nervous about kids getting their fingers trapped when they are half open.

PookieK Wed 10-Feb-16 13:30:08

We had upvc bi-fold doors in our back extension which I loved when they first went in. After a while I realised that as that was the only way of getting fresh air in the back of the house if we just wanted them open a bit they would slide open and shut and we would freeze. If I did it again I would get french doors and have small windows either side that open so you can still get a bit of fresh air through the back of the house! Or sliding doors that would stay put if you opened them just a little.

stillaspooninthecup Wed 10-Feb-16 13:42:32

Another one here saying French doors. Bi-folds are too new to the industry and have no track record of their reliability. French doors with sidepanel with opening at top gives you more options if you only want a little fresh air.

The wood look upvc is great nowadays and looks authentic.

(I have been admin manager for double glazing company for 20 years and know my service engineer deals with more bi-fold problems than french doors)

linspins Wed 10-Feb-16 17:17:56

I'm liking the sound of wood look upvc. Do you think this would look weird though if the other windows are normal upvc? We need to replace all the windows in the whole house, but I'm imagining wood look is more expensive. Off to research this now!
Thanks for all your replies so far! Very useful comments.

Chippednailvarnish Wed 10-Feb-16 17:22:08

I wanted bi-fold doors, but once they were open they took up a lot more room than I wanted them to. So I now have upvc French doors...

Marmitelover55 Wed 10-Feb-16 18:20:12

We have aluminium bifolds and I love them wink

Devora Wed 10-Feb-16 22:04:50

Hooray, it looks like the bifold backlash has started grin

vitalite Mon 22-Feb-16 22:59:33

We've gone for French doors with a window either side that has a panel at top for opening. Having had French doors (minus the side panels) in a previous home I knew I wanted something that would allow me to open just a window without exposing the whole back of the house to the elements (or foxes). Very happy with my decision. Plus we simply couldn't afford bifolds smile

VertigoNun Mon 22-Feb-16 23:05:54

I would go down the french doors and strip with a window option too.

MiaowTheCat Tue 23-Feb-16 08:49:31

We've got UPVC french doors at the back of ours (replacing some pretty horrid aluminium sliding monstrosities) with window strips either side and the doors can open fully flat out against the windows so you can have the whole "back of house open" effect going, but without bifolds that I think are going to be regretted a few years down the line (especially when I heard people got slugs coming in the gaps - ewww!!!)

I never see anyone with their bifolds fully open - unless they're doing a Kevin return visit on Grand Designs. Indeed our neighbour out the back who spent a small fortune on his house - never uses the bifolds he had fitted - he just uses the side back door instead!

MimsyPimsy Tue 23-Feb-16 11:11:46

We had French doors in our old house, but no windows, so we had to open the doors to get any ventilation. In our current house, we have bifolds, and sorry, but I love them. smile It's been a revelation. I was always a French door person before.

As late as October last year, I had them fully open during the day. We are in the south, and they do face west, but I've already had them fully open once this year. We do also have windows, though. I wouldn't be keen on just bifolds.

They are flat with the patio, and we aren't overlooked, so it's like bringing the outdoors inside. I am an outdoorsy sort of person, though.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Tue 23-Feb-16 12:08:36

Any plans for pets? You can't put cat/small dog flaps into bifolds. Even with the hinge door option in bifolds for use in the winter they always seem really drafty.

I like french doors also. Not sure that they will be a good style fit with a 1960's house though.
www.houzz.co.uk/ideabooks/54575309/list/architecture-alternatives-to-bifold-doors-to-open-up-your-extension
The first pics - contemporary french doors, might work?

There's this too which is worth a read.
www.houzz.co.uk/ideabooks/34865171/list/ask-an-expert-a-beginners-guide-to-bifold-doors

dontcallmelen Tue 23-Feb-16 13:42:30

Hi we have just fitted grey aluminium French doors with a very slim profile in our, new kitchen extension they are truly a thing of beauty😄

RaphaellaTheSpanishWaterDog Tue 23-Feb-16 13:47:52

We replaced a picture window with (timber) French windows at our last house. We considered bifolds, but decided that whilst the extension they would be going on was from the 1980s a fugly construction by the PO, as the rest of the house was Georgian (and thatched) these might look too out of kilter as well as dating too quickly. We felt French windows were more classical. We opted for timber again for aesthetic reasons - the rest of our windows were either original timber sashes/casements or replacement painted hardwood - but if I were doing it now I'd consider aluminium as we did have a few issues with the wood swelling/shrinking.

wonkylegs Tue 23-Feb-16 13:50:47

I think unless you have the budget for a very good expensive mechanism on your bi-fold that French doors are better, and more reliable. DH wanted bifolds on our office extension but I've convinced him that French doors and full length windows were a better option.

sweetheart Tue 23-Feb-16 15:16:50

We've just had a large extension done and have gone for 2 sets of french doors instead of 1 large bi fold. Reasons for this were I wanted the to fold back totally flat against the building without taking up too much room. Also I like a warm house so again as others have said would very rarely have been warm enough to fully open them up. I've also heard stories of them being very heavy on their hinges and tugging at the brickwork after a while. We also wanted to section the rooms off into areas so felt the doors did this.

We had planned to have glazing panels each side of the doors but figured that once we put curtains up you wouldn't see them anyway so we've done away with them.

Mamia15 Tue 23-Feb-16 15:27:33

I love the look of bi folds and wanted these but instead had to go for french windows when we realised we didn't have enough space. No regrets about the change of plan.

If you go for wood look or coloured UPVC, you can get these in white on the inside and wood look/coloured outside.

MimsyPimsy Tue 23-Feb-16 16:54:17

I'm surprised so few people have gone for bifolds. I actually had them open again today, as it was sunny this afternoon. smile The cat flap is a good point. Ours has to go through the utility.

KP86 Tue 23-Feb-16 17:13:58

I was also going to say sliding doors. You can get them that slide right into each other (say 4 panels instead of standard 2) so you still have a wide opening if you want to have an indoor/outdoor space.

I have had bifold doors and we hated them. It was a new house and they were already swollen, stiff and hard to use five years later. Grit would get into the tracks making them annoying, and because of how they open outwards it made a heap of the outdoor space unusable in a party situation because the door was there (think if you have an internal door that doesn't open against a wall, but rather into the normal space - it takes up way too much room!)

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