If you’re looking for an innovative solution to renovating your home space, then adding a folding door system to divide interior rooms or as an exterior-facing porch door can be a great way to change things up a bit. These doors essentially turn a boring, traditional “door-and-wall” setup into a full-glass wall that you can open and close at will.
These doors are a particularly nice option if you live in an area that has a great climate. You’ll be able to completely open an entire room and let the beautiful outside air in. Ventilating your home is a great way to keep the air clean and fresh, and reduces overall energy use as you won’t have to run your A/C system all day long.
Two of the top-rated folding door producers on the market today are Win-Dor Systems and Marvin folding doors. Both of these companies started as small family-run companies and have since developed into some of the most trusted folding door companies available. One thing that we really appreciate about both of these brands is their commitment to giving their customers options.
With both companies, there are virtually limitless combinations of door materials, colors, styles of glass, and more. If you’re the picky type who enjoys custom-crafting every aspect of their home, then these are two great companies to check out.
Although both companies offer windows and multiple different door systems, including swinging and sliding, today we’ll be reviewing the Marvin folding door system as well as Win-Dor System’s bi-fold accordion-style doors.
Win-Dor Systems Folding Doors: Overview
If you look at many American families, in-laws don’t always get along with each other. Win-Dor Systems, however, was actually founded by two brothers-in-law; Gary Templin and Wolf Wirthgen. The two brothers are from Southern California and wanted to bring the wide-open, natural ventilation of the California coast to the rest of the world. In doing so, they’ve also managed to build one of the top competing companies on the market.
Unlike many folding door companies on the market that offer multiple different options as far as door materials go, Win-Dor Systems only offers one- but it’s a good one.
Most traditional folding door systems on the market utilize vinyl, aluminum, or wood for their doors. While each of these definitely has its benefits, they each also have their own perspective drawbacks. Aluminum, while strong, dents and scratches easily. Vinyl, while reliable and low-maintenance, isn’t very strong or durable. Wood, while pretty, requires a lot of upkeep and maintenance to keep it looking pretty.
For these reasons, Win-Dor Systems decided that they were going to make their own hybrid-material door out of aluminum-reinforced vinyl. The door frame is made from aluminum and is both strong and durable. However, the exterior of the door is plated in vinyl, meaning that it’s incredibly low maintenance.
Vinyl will never have to be repainted as the factory color is the color of the material itself. The one drawback is that you won’t have a lot of options when it comes to color- just earth tones and various shades of white and black. These colors tend to go well with most home designs, though, so this isn’t a big issue for the majority of customers.
All of Win-Dor’s folding doors come in a standard size. Panels are about 8-feet tall and 3.5-feet wide. The company can fabricate custom-sized doors if you need them to, but they’ll usually charge a little bit extra for materials, and production time will be longer than usual.
If you live in an extremely hot area, then you may need an extra layer of protection in order to improve energy efficiency. While all Win-Dor folding doors do have a thermal core to prevent excessive heat transfer, you can add an extra layer of laminate to help further deflect the heat. If you’re looking through their catalog, they dub this as their “Win-Shield” option. The only drawback of laminate is that it’s only available in jet black, and other paints don’t exactly bond to laminate so you’ll have to go with the factory color.
Overall, Win-Dor makes an excellent door. It meets or exceeds all industry standards for energy-efficient design, weight, durability, ease of use, and maintenance. Now, let’s go over some of the key features that differentiate the company itself from competitors.
More Vinyl Colors
One of the reasons why so many customers go with Win-Dor’s vinyl doors as opposed to competitor’s vinyl doors is that they have more options for shades/color. Due to the chemical makeup of vinyl, the material can’t be painted (well it can, but it will chip and peel within a few weeks since the paint can’t bind to the vinyl surface).
For this reason, you’ll have to go with the standard color that vinyl comes in, which is usually white or beige. However, since Win-Dor focuses solely on vinyl exteriors, they have access to higher-quality vinyl material and more shades of vinyl. This means that you’ll be able choose from 6 additional factory tints:
- Dark Bronze
- Terra-Tone (dark brown)
- Beige (deeper color than factory beige)
- Taupe (somewhere between beige and terra-tone)
For those who want a vinyl door, but aren’t willing to sacrifice the artistic design, Win-Dor is a great company to work with.
Custom Glass Options
When picking out your Win-Dor Systems bi-fold doors, you’ll also be able to select whatever type of glass that you want. This is a feature that only a few of the lead competitors on the market provide. If you’re looking for a “Low-E” (low-emission) glass panel, most consumers have to compromise glass styling and may only be able to select the standard clear or transparent glass panels.
While most people are more interested in the standard clear glass panels, they aren’t right for everybody. For example, if you were installing a folding glass door into your bedroom, you might not want to give all of your neighbors the opportunity to peek in. While you could just purchase a set of curtains, wouldn’t it be better if you could have the option to install privacy glass instead?
With Win-Dor you’ll be able to choose from eight different styles of glass. They have all of the most common styles including: cracked/chipped glass, sandblasted, vertical and horizontal reed patterns, as well as a fully obscure glass. Opting for privacy glass can also be a great choice if you’re installing the system in a bathroom or your business office where you want to be able to keep meetings private and free from distraction.
Whole Home Solutions
Another reason why many builders and architects go with Win-Dor is that they offer whole home solutions. Aside from their award-winning folding doors, they also design custom windows as well as other types of doors such as swinging, sliding, and French doors. If you’re doing a complete home renovation or building a new house from the ground-up, then you can often save a good bit of money by purchasing all of your home’s windows and doors from the same supplier. They may even throw in some extras at-cost if you spend enough money with them!
Pros And Cons
Here are the benefits and drawbacks of Win-Dor’s folding doors in a nutshell.
- They offer a durable aluminum-vinyl hybrid design
- The folding doors are very low-maintenance
- Win-Dor offers window and door solutions for your entire home
- Win-Dor is a small family-owned and operated business that puts the customer first
- Their folding vinyl doors are available in more colors than competitor’s vinyl doors.
- No options for pure aluminum or wood doors
- Since all doors have a vinyl exterior, there aren’t many options for bright RGBV colors
Marvin Folding Doors: Overview
If Win-Dor is the industry leader in vinyl folding doors, then Marvin is the industry leader in custom hardwood folding doors. The company was originally started as a lumber company in 1912, making it one of the oldest folding door companies in America. Today, it’s still run by a member of the Marvin family, and they don’t plan on changing anytime soon.
Although they got their start as a simple lumber business that supplied other homebuilders, they eventually realized that they could profit far more if they took charge of the engineering of doors and windows as well. Since they were their own suppliers, their cost of materials would be far cheaper than their competitors.
Although the company has a strong focus on hardwood doors, they also produce aluminum and aluminum-wood hybrid products as well. They even offer the option for fiberglass exterior coating of their doors.
Let’s take a look at the options you’ll have when it comes to selecting your new Marvin folding door.
If we didn’t already mention it, Marvin has a strong focus on wood. In fact, we would say that few other folding door companies are able to compete with the quality of woodwork that Marvin produces. In fact, according to the manufacturer’s website, they even have in-house wood experts to assess the quality of materials and production, ensuring that your final product (which is custom-made to order) is nothing short of impressive.
They currently offer wood doors in Mahogany, Douglas Fir, and Pine. They’ve built strong connections with the people who they source their wood from, and everything is obtained sustainably from hard-working American businesses.
Aside from the stunning appearance and feel of a hardwood door, it’s also an excellent thermal insulator due to naturally-occurring air pockets between the wood fibers. This ensures that your home’s air temperature stays consistent and you don’t waste any money on extra cooling or heating in the hot summers and cold winters.
Aluminum is the industry standard for folding doors. It’s lightweight, durable, and relatively low-maintenance. You can also paint it any color that you want meaning it’s the perfect option if you want your new door to have a little bit more splash to it. “Extruded” aluminum is just a fancy way of saying that the exterior of the door is aluminum as opposed to vinyl, laminate, or wood. All of their aluminum doors are thermally-broken to improve energy efficiency.
If you want the durable, low-maintenance exterior of an aluminum door, but you still want a bit of good old-fashioned wood, then you can opt for a hybrid door design. Like the options provided by some of the other companies on the market, Marvin’s wood-clad aluminum door features durable extruded aluminum on the exterior and a beautifully-stained choice of hardwood on the interior.
If you opt for an aluminum door, and you want something that will provide a little bit extra heat resistance, then you can get it coated with fiberglass. This is very similar to the way that Win-Dor provides an optional laminate coating, except fiberglass is known for being a little bit thicker and can withstand harsher climates.
Before we give you our final thoughts on the two brands, let’s take a look at some of the special features that make Marvin one of the top-rated companies on the market.
Factory Wood Staining
Almost every other wood bi-fold door on the market does not offer the option of a factory stain. They deliver the door to your home raw and unstained, so either you or your contractor will have to handle the staining and sealing of the door. Aside from aesthetics, sealing a door is a requirement to maintain the quality of the door and prevent weather damage.
Staining the door prior to delivery has several benefits-
- It has time to dry in a dry, safe environment
- You don’t have to find another company to stain the door after installation
- You don’t have to worry about messy wet stain dripping around your home or having to clean it up
Marvin offers several options for factory stains:
Custom Glass And Factory Tint
Like Win-Dor, Marvin is one of the few competitors on the market that also offer custom glass design. Aside from the standard clear option, you can choose from a wide range of clouded, cracked, or beveled styles in order to add a bit of extra style or privacy to your glass accordion doors.
In addition, you’ll also be able to add a factory tint to your glass! This is something that no other company on the market is currently offering. You’ll be able to choose from bronze, green, or grey tint depending on your preference. This extra layer of tint can add to the heat-resistance of your door and also create nice lighting for your interior when the door is closed.
Pros And Cons
Here’s the simple list of pros and cons regarding Marvin’s folding door systems.
- Experts in hardwood folding doors
- Marvin is one of the only companies to offer factory staining of wood bi-fold doors
- They offer factory window tint
- Tons of options for customizing your glass or the overlay grid pattern
- Marvin’s hardwood doors can be on the expensive side
- They don’t offer any vinyl door options
For two family-run door and window businesses, these competitors have managed to make an excellent name for themselves providing high-quality craftsmanship for homeowners, builders, and architects across the United States. However, they each cater to a specific aesthetic that may differ based on your personal tastes.
If you’re the type of person who’s looking for a more “modern” solution and wants a low-maintenance, hands-off style of folding door, then Win-Dor is the obvious choice. However, if you’re the type of person who appreciates the solid, timeless feel and aesthetic of stained wood, it’s hard to beat Marvin in terms of overall quality and customization options.
Aside from this, both companies provide above-average quality in energy-efficient glass solutions, plenty of options for different configurations, and are highly-reviewed by consumers.