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Application Versatility with New Door Designs

The combination of indoor and outdoor living spaces within the high-end residential market has been trending for a few years now. Large openings, made possible by oversized residential windows and doors, have attracted many a homebuilder and renovator.

Just check recent pages of Window & Door magazine that covers the increased demand for these products. Windows & Door notes that it takes coordination, communication and planning between manufacturer and installer to make these projects a success—especially as demand rises and more large-scale projects come in.

My sense is that this trend will continue to evolve, and relatively quickly. Because we’re also seeing the simultaneous evolution of patio door configurations—no longer are the traditional sliding glass doors the only option for those looking for a WOW-factor or seeking to let more of the outside in. Whether it’s French doors, multi-slide doors, lift-and-slide or bi-fold doors, the possibilities are growing. In some cases, these two trends are converging—take bi-fold glass wall configurations as a show-stopping example.

The bi-fold, in particular, strikes me as an option with plenty of further potential in residential applications, and possibly beyond. Here are a few reasons why. 

Configurative freedom

Bi-fold doors offer a versatile operation, with the ability to fold at both ends of the frame or all to one end. For homeowners seeking a completely custom space, it’s an attractive option. A bi-fold system enables homeowners to precisely control how much light and fresh air they’re letting in at a given time. Consider also that bi-folds are uniquely compatible for oversized applications and work well with unconventional design plans like corner doors.

Alternative applications

I’ve heard some unexpected feedback in recent conversations I’ve had with customers and beyond about burgeoning interest for bi-fold doors. For instance, bi-folds make a great fit for retail and office spaces. Consider a storefront that can close and lock up without the use of a big gate rolled down from the ceiling. Or, a conference room that opens into a bigger common area just outside, offering privacy when required, but an open feel when needed.

Growing material diversity

While bi-folds have come to prominence generally with aluminum and wood builds, vinyl—as it tends to do—is catching up. I’ve written for this blog before about how vinyl, for its significant residential market dominance, still sticks in some people’s minds as the “cheap” option. And homeowners who are considering bi-fold options probably aren’t looking for “cheap.” But vinyl and vinyl composites can offer significant performance and longevity benefits to the alternatives.


Eric Thompson

Eric Thompson

Eric Thompson is the national account manager for Quanex. Email him at