Bi-folding doors are door systems that utilize multiple door panels operating on a multi-point hinge and locking mechanism. Since each individual panel folds on its own axis, these doors are incredibly easy to open and close making them a common choice over more traditional sliding doors.
One of the main reasons why more homeowners (and even businesses) are installing bi-fold door systems in their living areas is that they can really open everything up, increase the amount of light in the space, and connect people with the outside world. If you want something small, you can use a small three-panel system or if you want to install them in a large opening, you can stack configurations as wide or tall as you’d like.
The Need For An Energy-Efficient Folding Door
While the appeal of these doors is certainly easy to see in regards to interior doors or room dividers, some customers are unsure of how they’ll stand up as exterior or patio doors. After all, how efficient can an all-glass door panel be? As it turns out- their energy efficiency is almost unmatched.
In today’s article, we’re going to take an in-depth look into modern folding door systems and just how energy-efficient they can be. From customizing glass options to selecting high-quality stainless steel, aluminum, or wood bi-fold doors, we’ll cover all of the latest technology designed to comply with the strictest energy/building codes in the nation.
If you’ve done a little bit of research on the history of today’s folding door systems, then you may remember that they were originally designed and developed in Southern California so that homeowners could take advantage of the scenic beachside views. The state of California also happens to have some of the strictest laws regarding the energy efficiency of building materials.
This means that most of today’s high-tech systems are already designed to comply with California’s building codes. If they can pass these rigorous codes, be rest assured that they won’t contribute to higher energy costs.
Modern Accordion Door Technology
Now that you know a little bit more about the history of folding doors and energy-efficiency, let’s take a look at the actual technology working behind the scenes that results in some of the highest quality windows, doors, and home decor products on the market today.
Since most of these doors are 90% glass and 10% door frame, the quality and type of glass used in folding doors is one of the most important factors in regards to overall energy efficiency. If the glass isn’t thermally-resistant, then the whole system is compromised.
Window glazing is the process of arranging panes of glass in a door or window system. While this may sound simple, there’s a lot of work and calculations that go into creating an airtight system that won’t let a cold draft or water through to the other side.
In order to accomplish this, manufacturers utilize bonding techniques designed to create a perfect seal between the door stiles and the glass panels. One of the first things that early window designers found was that by increasing the number of panes in a window, they could significantly reduce thermal transfer and increase durability.
As you continue to shop around for folding doors, you’ll see options such as dual-glazed or triple-glazed windows. These feature either two or three glass panels staked in parallel with a small space between them. The industry standard is dual-glazed, but you’ll often find triple-glazed windows used for extreme temperature zones.
In addition to using multiple glass panes, most of today’s glass manufacturers also fill the space between glass with Argon gas. Argon is a very stable gas which means that it naturally resists temperature change and regulates most of the infrared rays carrying heat that try to pass through the glass.
As if this wasn’t enough, it’s also common to coat the surface of the glass with a thin layer of silver or another reflective compound. This invisible layer reflects most of the UV and infrared rays coming from the sun without compromising your view or clarity.
Window Tints + Films
In commercial applications or for homes that get a lot of direct sunlight, you can usually custom order your doors with a layer of tint on the glass. Not only does this help to deflect heat, but it also keeps too much light from getting in.
Although the glass is arguably the most important part of the system, the door frame materials and design are also important to the thermal efficiency of the system.
Aluminum isn’t usually regarded as an efficient material. In fact, it’s highly conductive and cold/hot transfers right through. Unless it’s thermally-broken, that is.
Thermal breaking is the process of coating the interior aluminum door jambs with a thin layer of polymer. This synthetic polymer material is designed to resist heat (or cold) transfer. While it’s not quite as insulated as a solid pine wood door, it’s close enough and passes efficiency tests.
If you’re the type of person who appreciates the timeless look of authentic wood species, then you can’t go wrong with a solid wood door frame. In fact, wood is 1,700 times better at insulation than untreated aluminum thanks to its molecular structure.
The only drawback of an all-wood door frame is that it will require a little bit more care and maintenance to keep it in its original condition. Climates that get a lot of rainwater, ice, or snow tend to damage wood the most. However, as long as you’re consistent when it comes to cleaning, restaining, and sealing, you shouldn’t run into any problems.
Glass Bi-folding door systems are some of the most efficient home products on the market. Even though they may not look like it at first, today’s advancements in glass and thermal-breaking technology mean that you’ll never have to compromise integrity for style.