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Concluding our comprehensive guide to patio door types.
Hardware, Rolling, Thresholds & Security
French doors and bi folds need hinges that are strong enough to withstand the weight of the doors. Sliding doors (including bi folds) can be supported from the top or rest on the floor. Top hung systems tend to be easier to slide and will facilitate low thresholds. Thresholds can be raised or virtually flush, if the floor area is suitable. Raised is usually cheaper and may be more suitable to certain environments; other factors to consider are access by wheelchair users, young children and elderly, infirm or partially sighted people who may be liable to trip. Consideration should be given to how secure patio doors are. Not only the quality of the frames and glass but whether the doors can be unlocked from the outside. French doors are often purchased "off the shelf" and afford access from both sides whereas bifolding doors are often made to measure and can be supplied with locks on the inside only. Multiple door systems may have key-locks for each of the pairs of doors for extra security.
Access & Opening Widths
To recap, French doors come in pairs and therefore the maximum access width is in the region of 2 metres. Sliding doors comprise two, three or four sashes within a frame, the larger systems opening to provide maximum access width of approximately 3 metres. Bi-folding and slide-and-pivot door systems are fully retractable, maximising the potential access width. The width-span of bifolds is governed by the stress of the hinged doors therefore a link of six doors is considered the maximum although, in theory, two of these could be installed to form a centrally opening retractable glass wall of twelve doors spanning 12m, provided the overbeam can be trusted (reputable companies will probably advise against this). Without hinges and cumbersome frames, slide-and-pivot doors are lighter and operate independently, therefore their installable width span is restricted only by the length of the over-beam to which the upper guide needs to be attached. The upper and lower guides must be consistently equidistant along the full width of the aperture for the doors to slide. This system has been tested to approximately 8 metres.
Delivery & Installation
As previously stated, French doors can usually be purchased 'off the shelf' to standard sizes, as can smaller widths of sliding doors and pvc or timber bi folding door systems. If purchasing a system that is made to order, it is advisable to ensure that it is manufactured in the UK. Main benefits include adherence to British standards and delivery timescales (not only for the initial import but for subsequent parts or problem solving). When comparing prices, include: cost of buying the door system, delivery service, installation labour (if d-i-y, cost of appropriate tools and materials), making good and clearing the site. Price is not everything, though. Consider the time it takes for the installation to be completed - typically, an experienced team from the supplier will complete the job in a day so that home-owners can enjoy using their new patio doors as soon as possible.
Patio doors are generally installed in residential properties but are also popular in restaurants, canteens, reception areas, sports halls, swimming pools and communal areas. Where double-glazing isn't required, single-glazed frameless slide-and-pivot doors may be preferred - reception areas, enclosing a terrace or cloisters, shop fronts in shopping malls and conference area partitions. (Glass Curtains)
SunSeeker Doors is the only UK company to manufacture and install a choice of slide and pivot doors (including frameless glass doors), bi folding doors and French doors.
Article Source: Guide to Patio Door Types
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