One of the more unfortunate aspects of buying a home these days is that most of the time, you’ll be overpaying for an outdated house. Like it or not, those are usually the terms for the majority of homebuyers on the market today. It’s also the reason why more homeowners are doing renovations than ever before.
The first place to get renovated in a home is usually one of the major shared living areas such as the living room, kitchen, or exterior deck/recreation space. If you could only choose one factor to renovate in your space, then the best choice would likely your window space.
The dominating theme in today’s architecture and design is opening spaces, minimizing clutter, and taking full advantage of the potential of a space. This means if you’re looking for that one thing that’s guaranteed to fully open up your living space, your best option is going to involve knocking down a wall and replacing it with a glass bi-folding door.
While many people tend to think of a glass folding door as an inefficient option, today’s modern folding door technology means that even a completely transparent and minimistically-designed door configuration can be just as efficient (if not more efficient) than a standard wall with fiberglass insulation. In fact, today’s technology allows homeowners to construct fully-glass rooms that are just as energy-efficient as regular walled homes.
Top Factors For Pricing Folding Doors
In today’s post, we’re going to break down the most important cost factors that come into play when choosing the perfect folding door configuration for your home. From the brand and materials to the glass and the storm rating, we’ll cover everything that’s important.
Whether you’re a homeowner who’s looking at options or you’re a contractor trying to sell a bi-folding doors system to a client, after reading this you’ll be able to continue shopping with more confidence and buyers’ knowledge than before.
We’ve organized the list in descending order with the first factors contributing more to price and the latter factors contributing somewhat less.
Get ready to take some notes!
#1 Bi-Fold Door Brand
The top factor that contributes to the overall price you’ll pay for your accordion-style doors is usually going to be the brand that you select. Technically, you could go to your local hardware store and pick up a set of multi-point prefinished folding doors without having to dip into your pocket too much. However, most of these prefabricated door panels aren’t designed to have the durability that’s found in higher-ranked accordion bi-fold doors.
While these cheaper systems can make for a decent interior door or room divider, they likely won’t have any warranty designed to withstand the outdoors.
From the warranty to the quality of glass options, you’ll usually get what you pay for. When it comes to a renovation that’s going to be a part of your house for the foreseeable future, you’ll want to pick something that’s going to last. Paying a little bit extra upfront can save you a lot of trouble and repairs in the long-term.
#2 Bi-Fold Door Configuration + Size
The second most important thing to consider when comparing folding doors is the configuration of your door panels and the overall size of the door systems. Generally speaking, if you’re just looking for a smaller system such as a bi-fold closet door or room divider, you won’t have to pay much. However, if you’re looking to replace a large wall space or exterior sliding door, then you’re going to pay a lot more.
The first factor is size. The average folding door panel size is going to be between 7 and 10-feet tall. If you’re looking for an extra-large door panel between 10 and 14-feet, though, you’re going to have to be willing to shell out some extra cash. Not only do larger door panels require more overall material, but they also require heavy-duty stiles and tracking systems to keep the doors in-place.
The second factor is the configuration. Basic folding door systems are designed to replace an otherwise flat section of wall or traditional sliding door. More advanced systems can involve replacing two entire walls at a 90-degree offset or even involve a circular sliding track system. You’ll also have to think about where you place the built-in swing door that will serve as your everyday entry/exit point.
The more involved the system is the more construction work that will have to be done in order to provide adequate support for the walls and hold the heavy doors in place.
Interior bi-fold door systems are typically a lot cheaper. They don’t require the high-quality low-e glass options that exterior doors require. Interior doors also don’t require the waterproof door stiles to keep out rainwater.
Thanks to the high-quality low-e glass, thermally efficient insulation materials, and heavy-duty door hardware, exterior folding door configurations tend to be a good bit more expensive than their interior counterparts. The trick is being able to combine all of these heavy-duty materials together to design a durable door that also features effortless operation.
#3 Bi-Fold Door Materials
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, it’s time to take a look at one of the more technical features of buying a new bi-fold door system- the materials used for the door frame. Depending on the brand you choose, you may only have one or two options, or you may be able to choose from multiple different materials or even a combination (such as a wood interior-aluminum exterior).
Here are the most common bi-fold door materials ranked in order of typical price:
- Stainless Steel Door: Stainless steel is used to make incredibly durable exterior doors. These systems are heavy and more door hardware, but they’re often designed to withstand heavy winds and extreme temperatures.
- Wood Door: Depending on the wood species you select for your door (usually Douglas Fir or an unfinished Pine), your price will vary. Higher-quality doors will be made out of 100% real wood, and more affordable options will usually be made out of an engineered material with a woodgrain finish.
- Aluminum Door: Aluminum is the industry standard today. It’s lightweight, durable, and offers an excellent weight-to-strength ratio.
- Vinyl Door: Vinyl doors are typically the cheapest. They’re not built to withstand more extreme climates, but they’re both lightweight and energy-efficient.
#4 Bi-Fold Door Energy Efficiency
If you’re working with a brand to custom-build your folding doors, then you’ll be able to choose between several options and key features to make your system more or less energy efficient. Exterior door panels tend to be far more efficient (since they’re protecting against outside elements). They’ll usually feature multi-paned, low-e, argon-filled, glass panels. Additionally, the door frame material itself may feature thermal breaking technology designed to minimize the thermal conductivity of the material.
#5 Bi-Fold Door Storm Rating
If you live in an area of the country that’s heavily affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, or tropical storms, then you’ll likely want to get a folding door system that’s designed to withstand these more extreme environments. If you want the best of the best, then you’ll want to look for doors designed to pass the rigorous Miama-Dade building code.
Miami is hit by more annual hurricanes than almost any other East Coast city, and their strict building codes ensure that the city takes minimal damage during hurricane season.
Folding door systems with this rating are often made with heavy-duty reinforced aluminum or stainless steel, feature double or triple-glazed glass which may be further reinforced with an anti-shatter film designed to minimize cracking and prevent the window from falling out of the frame. Additionally, the tracking systems are designed to withstand the impact of category 4 and 5 winds. This means that even though individual door panels may weigh hundreds of pounds, you won’t have to worry about them coming off the track.
#6 Bi-Folding Doors Glass Type + Tint
Most custom folding door companies allow clients to choose between multiple options in regard to the glass type, thickness, and even the tint of your windows. Since 80-90% of the surface area of your doors will be pure glass, it’s important to make sure that you select the right options for your particular environment.
Glazing is a process in which everyday glass is tempered to make it stronger and more resistant to pressure and heat. If you live in a moderate-temperature environment or you’re ordering an interior accordion door system, then you’ll probably just need your standard single-panel glazed glass.
On the other hand, if you live in a more extreme temperature zone (hot or cold) you’ll probably need to invest in dual-glazed or triple-glazed glass. This involves stacking two or three panels of glazed glass on top of each other with a small space between them. The layering of glass reduced thermal transfer and protects your interior from extreme heat or cold.
In addition to layer panels of glazed glass, many brands also add Argon gas to the spaces between glass panels. Argon gas helps to regulate temperature change because of its low conductivity. This means that even on a 100-degree hot, sunny day, the bright sunbeams coming through the window will be automatically cooled as they enter the glass. Without this gas layer, the sun’s rays would be refracted and possibly even amplified as they entered your home, causing a quick rise in the interior temperature of your home.
Did you know that you can even soundproof your new folding doors? This process usually involves utilizing a multi-glazed panel assembly to start with. After this, the manufacturer can apply thin layers of laminate to the surface of the glass which helps to reduce the frequency of any incoming sound waves.
This is especially useful if you’re the type of person who throws house parties or likes to play loud music without disturbing the neighbors. It’s also a great feature if you’re installing folding doors for an office space where you want to retain conversational privacy.
#7 Bi-Folding Doors Custom Colors + Stains
One of the biggest reasons why homeowners opt for custom-designed folding door systems is that they’re able to retain full control over the appearance and styling of their new doors. When you purchase cheaper pre-fabricated versions from hardware stores, you’ll usually have to stick with boring tan, white, or matte black colors.
The colors you’re able to choose from will usually depend on the type of door frame material you select.
Aluminum door panels provide the most options for custom coloring. You’ll typically be able to choose between an anodized finish (metallic finish electrically bonded to the surface) or a powder coat finish (you choose between hundreds of custom color options). Anodized finishes tend to last longer, whereas powder coat finishes may need to be repainted every 5 to 10 years.
Vinyl doors probably have the fewest options when it comes to custom colors. This is because most paint doesn’t bind to vinyl very well, so you’ll have to go with one of the few natural tints that factory vinyl is created with. This is usually a variation of white or tan.
Wood door frames may come with a factory finish or they may send you the raw wood to finish yourself. Either way, no matter what wood species you choose from, you’ll need to finish and seal your door in order to prevent water or UV ray damage from damaging the door.
#8 Bi-Folding Doors Track System
Finally, many folding door companies allow homeowners to choose between a variety of different track systems to hold the door in place.
The most common is a floor track system that features wheel bearings built into the floor with supporting pins running through a top track. These are the easiest to assemble, but you’ll need to clean them more often so that dirt and grime don’t prevent the doors from sliding smoothly.
Instead, some brands feature a top-hung system where the wheel bearings run along the top track with supporting pins on a thin low-profile bottom track. These are a little bit harder to assemble, but mean that you’ll spend less time cleaning tracks in the future.
The whole fun of home renovation is being able to customize every element of design from start to finish. Most of the high-quality brands featured on our website allow the buyer to choose between a wide variety of customization options from the materials to the color.
If you’re going to invest money into a significant folding door renovation, then wouldn’t you rather be able to design a door system from the ground-up? Not only will you get a higher quality door, but you’ll end up with a product that you can take pride in every day you walk through it.