So, you’re interested in buying a high-quality folding door system, but you’re still unsure about a few things? With so many different brands, options, styles, and price points, it can sometimes be hard for shoppers to settle on a final choice.
The nice thing about the long warranties on these doors is that you know your money is going to be wisely invested. The flip-side of that coin, though, is that you’re deciding on a home decor item that’s going to be there for 10 years or more unless you decide to replace it beforehand.
The last thing that anybody wants on their mind in regards to major home renovation items is the infamous “buyer’s remorse.” For instance, you don’t want to one day look at your solid wood Mahogany door panels and think to yourself, “Man, I really should have chosen the aluminum bi-fold doors!”
Wood Bi-Fold Doors Vs. Aluminum Bi-Fold Doors
Whether you’re just looking to improve your living area, add some patio doors, or you’re designing a high-tech closet door, bi-fold door systems are one of the best additions to your home in terms of the value. While they may be a bit expensive upfront, these doors can massively increase the market value of your home.
Today’s article is for some of our more undecided customers. Two of the most commonly used materials for door frames and stiles are aluminum or a solid core wood species. While stainless steel, PVC, and engineered wood are common alternatives, aluminum and wood bi-fold doors tend to be the industry standards in terms of the overall style.
We’re going to start by going over some of the main considerations you should keep in mind when choosing between these materials. Then, we’ll get into some of the more technical differences between the two high-quality building materials.
Let’s start by taking note of the main factors that come into play when you’re trying to decide on which folding door system to install in your home or office.
Although solid wood and aluminum are both high-quality materials that boast excellent durability, how well they’ll stand up to the test of time as well as the climate/geographical location is a different story. Some wood is better than others, some aluminum is better than others. Just keep in mind that you’ll often get what you pay for. Cheaper materials usually won’t last as long, even if they look just as good on day 1.
If you’re into custom colors, stains, door trims, and other customization options like window louvers or low-profile door jambs, then you’ll want to go for a company that allows buyers to customize each individual panel piece-by-piece.
Both wood and aluminum can be used to make incredibly stylish doors as long as they’re in the hands of a design-oriented manufacturer.
Unfortunately, these folding door systems often don’t come cheap. They’re usually considered a luxury home item, and once you better understand some of the technology that goes into making these doors (especially for large openings), you’ll see why.
Both wood and aluminum designs can have similar price points depending on how much you want to customize the system.
Wood and aluminum have a wide deal of versatility. From interior doors to exterior patio doors, these doors can function as simple closet doors, or as energy-efficient storm-proof barriers to the outdoors. Before you make a final purchasing decision, you’ll want to make sure that you have a clear idea of the project you want to accomplish.
Wood Bi-Fold Doors
Wood bi-fold doors arguably have the most “classic” look to them. Wood is one of the most thermally-efficient materials in the world due to small air pockets in the structure that help keep outside air out and inside air contained. They’ll usually need to be stained and sealed before installation to ensure that the wood isn’t damaged by the sun’s UV rays, rain, ice, etc.
Depending on the accordion door manufacturer you go with, you’ll usually have a choice between several different wood species. Here are the most common:
- Pine Wood
- Mahogany Wood
- Oak Wood
- Cherry Wood
Many door companies also allow you to choose your own custom wood species if you’re willing to pay a little bit extra and wait a little longer for them to custom-make the doors.
- Wood doors are an elegant and classic look.
- In terms of energy efficiency, wood doors are 1,700-times better than untreated aluminum.
- Wood doors are heavy, sturdy, and able to withstand strong winds and storms.
- Wood doors need to be cleaned at least once a year to prevent mold from building up on the surface.
- Wood folding doors need to be re-stained and sealed once every few years to maintain the integrity of the wood.
- Customized wood doors can take longer to manufacture.
Aluminum Bi-Fold Doors
The type of aluminum they use for folding door systems isn’t just some cheap sheet metal. It’s thermally-broken aluminum that’s layered with a thin polymer layer that helps to prevent temperature change from one side to the other. When combined with today’s energy-efficient low-e glass, they can perform almost as well as a wood door.
Aluminum is often chosen because it’s very low-maintenance. All homeowners need to do is apply a fresh coat of paint every 5 to 10 years. It’s also lightweight and easy-to-install but is still durable enough to stand up to storms and strong winds. You’ll even be able to choose hurricane-proof aluminum doors made with reinforced aluminum for extra strength.
While you don’t usually have as many options in terms of material quality, you will be able to choose from a wide range of different colors and metallic finishes in order to create a fully customized folding door system.
Depending on the model of door you choose, you may be able to choose between the following aluminum options:
- Standard aluminum (for interior doors)
- Thermally-broken aluminum (for exterior-facing doors)
- Reinforced aluminum (for extra-large door panels or storm-proofing)
- With added polymer breaks, aluminum can be just as energy-efficient as wood.
- While wood gives a more “classic” look, aluminum can result in a more “modern” look.
- Aluminum is very low-maintenance and doesn’t require the same care as wood does.
- Untreated aluminum isn’t as energy-efficient as wood naturally is.
- Aluminum doors are known to scratch or dent easily if they’re banged around too much.
Both wood and aluminum are excellent material choices for folding door systems. If you can’t decide between either one, you’ll find that several bi-fold door manufacturers offer hybrid designs that feature an aluminum door frame design with wood panels clad to the exterior. This combination provides both style and structural integrity without sacrificing too much on either end.