What is the Difference Between Aluminium, Timber and uPVC Bifold Doors?
As we all know, technology progresses and new innovations supersede older technologies, so if you are wondering what the differences are between modern uPvc, Timber and Aluminum framed doors, this article should help you to differentiate between them and dispel a few myths which originated from the older technologies in days gone by.
Before we begin to delve into the practicalities of each door material and therefore what is the best material for bifold doors, it’s worth bearing in mind that due to the cost of materials involved in making patio, multislide or bifold doors, uPVC is still the cheapest option, therefore if you are looking for the cheapest practical solution for a replacement door in your house, conservatory or even all round in a new build, uPVC is almost certainly the best option, although it does have certain limitations for larger openings and its bulky profiles can limit the size of glass, it therefore is not always an option for every application. uPVC is almost standard for windows throughout the UK and often people will opt for matching doors simply because they are cheaper, although it’s probably worth bearing in mind that when you come to sell your property, aluminium bifold doors or a high quality wooden door are much more aesthetically appealing and is likely to add value to your home.
Aluminium Framed Doors
The reason that I wanted to start off by discussing aluminium framed doors, is that this is where peoples perception of the product is usually the furthest from the modern truth. We all (younger generations excepted) remember the days when Aluminium windows became popular, and in truth, back then they were prone to condensation running down the frames throughout winter, with hardwood frames which needed regular repainting and of course, for being silver. Rest assured this is no longer the case!
Modern Aluminium doors and window frames have probably experienced the biggest advances in recent years and are often A rated for their thermal insulation properties. The benefits of Aluminium doors far outweigh those of uPVC these days, which is why they are becoming increasingly popular, particularly for properties of contemporary design, modern flats and anything with slightly unusual characteristics, such as corner opening bifolds. The benefits can be broadly categorised into aesthetics, strength and longevity.
Aesthetics – Aluminium frames are much slimmer than uPVC, enabling the size of the glass to be increased, this can be seen to have great effect when used in large Aluminium bifolding door configurations. In addition they can be made in an almost limitless range of colours, including a wide range of realistic and very popular wood grain finishes. (virtually nobody opts for the brushed aluminium look any more!)
Strength – While the strength of the door frames is what enables the glass to cover a much larger surface area in proportion to the frames, the other main benefit is the additional security which they provide, both in themselves, but also in respect of the fixings and attaching points for hinges, handles and most importantly the locks. Their superior strength also means that aluminium doors can be used in much wider openings than uPVC, in some cases conservatories having bifolding doors along three entire wall lengths!
Longevity – Aluminium being a non-porous, very strong and non corroding metal, all of our Aluminium doors will last an extremely long time, due predominantly to the recent leaps forward in polymide technology, which has dramatically increased their thermal properties and strength. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a modern Aluminium door to still look as good as new and retain its thermal qualities for many years after uPVC doors have begun to look tired and need replacing.
If you are looking for that country cottage look or perhaps something more grand, a wooden door, with perhaps just a small window or even just a spyhole may be your first choice, uPVC will never look as attractive and even Aluminium lends itself better to glazed doors.
Obviously timber today is pretty much the same as timber of the past, however by using the finest grade hard-woods in combination with modern coating technologies, maintenance can be kept to a minimum. There was a time when it became popular to use softwoods for door and window frames, this combined with the limited protective qualities of paint and varnish of that era, led to many people coming to the conclusion that Aluminium and uPVC were the better option, however times have changed! The benefits of wooden doors fall broadly into the following categories:
Longevity – Modern timber processing impregnates the wood before the final coatings are applied meaning rot and fungus can’t take hold. The final coatings provide an extremely tough waterproof finish providing an attractive timber door which will last for many many years before any maintenance is required.
Eco Friendly – Wood being a renewable resource is inherently environmentally friendly in comparison to mining for metals or oil extraction (oil being the raw material for the manufacture of uPVC). All the timber used for our wooden doors is FSC certified (forest stewardship council), meaning it’s come from aa renewable and responsibly managed source, you can even trace it back to where it was produced!
Aesthetics – Timber is one of natures great masterpieces, being visually pleasing, incredibly strong but also, and vitally important in this case, a fantastic insulator. The appearance of a genuine timber door can’t be understated, the look and feel of natural timber will add value to your home.
uPVC Framed Doors
You might be under the impression after reading everything we have said about timber and Aluminium doors that we don’t like uPVC, you’d be wrong. Upvc doors are a great product! We just feel that in recent years, with all the advances in the core materials and coatings, there are even better options available if your budget permits. Modern uPVC doors are reinforced to provide good security and as with all doors, any glazing be it double or triple, will keep the cold on the outside and the heat in your home, helping to reduce heating costs. They also offer minimal maintenance, and may well match the finish on your existing windows. All this being said, there is only really one major advantage of uPVC doors these days:
Cost – Because of the relatively cheap process for producing uPVC, they are usually the cheapest option, so if you need to replace a door and are on a tight budget, this may be the way to go. This could of course change in the future with soaring oil costs, but for now uPVC doors are almost always cheaper, just as functional and thermally insulated.
So, what is the best material for bifold doors to be made from? We usually recommend Aluminium for a contemporary look, or wood for a more traditional or country feel, both will last a lifetime and have minimal maintenance long into the future.
If you have any comments, please feel free to leave them below, alternatively if you have questions specific to our own range of doors or your own specific requirements, please get in touch through the contact form.