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uPVC vs Aluminium Bi-folding Doors – A Comprehensive Comparison

Bi-folding doors are gaining prominence in both residential and commercial settings, offering a practical solution to enhance indoor spaces by seamlessly connecting them with the outdoors.

External bi-folds serve to invite natural light into interiors while providing convenient access to outdoor areas such as gardens or patios.

Innovations in materials and design have revolutionised the concept of doors, rendering traditional French doors somewhat outdated.

The installation of bi-fold doors has the potential to elevate the market value of your home.

When it comes to bifold doors, the choice between uPVC and aluminium often sparks debate. Which material is superior for your new fixture?

In this article, we delve into the benefits of these two premium materials to determine if there is a definitive winner in the realm of bifold doors.

Understanding Aluminium and uPVC in Bifold Doors

Bifold, or bi-folding, doors are door systems comprising multiple panels that fold inward, creating a wide opening.

These doors typically feature sturdy, lightweight frames, with panels often made of glass or other materials like wood or uPVC.

Aluminium and uPVC stand out as the primary choices for contemporary bifold door systems. Both offer sleekness and durability, along with aesthetic, insulation, and energy efficiency benefits.

Here’s a brief overview of their fundamental properties:

  • What is uPVC? – uPVC, short for Unplasticised Polyvinyl Chloride, is a rigid plastic commonly utilized in windows, doors, and various building materials. Unlike PVC, uPVC lacks plasticisers, enhancing its resistance to chemicals, sunlight, and weathering.
  • What is aluminum? – Aluminum is a lightweight, silvery-white metal known for its strength, durability, and excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, making it suitable for a broad range of applications.

Which Has a Longer Lifespan: uPVC Bifolds or Aluminium Bifold Doors?

A high-quality and well-maintained aluminium bifold door typically boasts a lifespan of 20 to 30 years or even more.

Regular care and maintenance, such as routine cleaning and lubrication, can further prolong the door’s durability.

Similarly, a well-constructed and properly maintained uPVC bifold door typically lasts well into its 20s. With attentive care and upkeep, its lifespan can be extended.

Ultimately, the aluminium bifold door tends to outlast its uPVC counterpart. This underscores the impressive long-term durability of aluminium.

Interested in aluminium? Explore our guide to the top bifold doors and brands in the UK for more details.Bifold Door

Price Comparison Between Aluminium And uPVC Bifolds

When considering bifold doors, price inevitably plays a significant role in decision-making. Let’s delve into this aspect upfront.

Aluminium bifold doors come at a higher price point compared to uPVC bifold doors, mainly due to the costlier material.

Here’s a breakdown of the initial cost comparison between the two:

Aluminium Anthracite Grey

  • 1.8m – £1, 845
  • 2.4m – £1,875
  • 3.0m – £1,925
  • 3.6m – £1,985

uPVC Anthracite Grey

  • 1.8m – £1,720
  • 2.4m – £1,850
  • 3.0m – £2,200
  • 3.6m – £2,399

At first glance, uPVC doors appear to be the more economical option. In the short term, this holds true. However, considering this as an investment, a long-term perspective is essential.

Both aluminium and uPVC boast durability and longevity. However, uPVC frames typically wear out sooner. In most cases, uPVC doors may require replacement before aluminium frames.

Moreover, aluminium doors often come with a more extended warranty period compared to uPVC doors. While uPVC may offer a 10-year warranty, aluminium doors may come with a 15-year guarantee.

Factoring in the longer lifespan and extended warranty period, the cost balance ultimately shifts in favour of aluminium over the medium to long term.

For further insights, explore our comprehensive guide on bifold door costs.

Strength of uPVC vs Aluminium Bifold Doors

When it comes to strength, the battle between uPVC and aluminium is a formidable one. Both materials boast impressive durability, but let’s delve into their individual strengths.

uPVC, or Unplasticized Polyvinyl Chloride, is crafted from a vinyl polymer bonded with chlorine. This unique composition creates a sturdy non-plastic compound, robust enough to be reinforced with steel.

On the other hand, aluminium undergoes a chemical process that combines high-strength alloy with additives. This results in a material so resilient that it finds its application even in constructing towering skyscrapers.

In a head-to-head comparison, uPVC falls slightly short of aluminium’s innate strength. The latter’s remarkable weight-to-strength ratio makes it the ideal choice for exterior doors, especially those subjected to rigorous and heavy use.

Nevertheless, both top-quality aluminium and uPVC bifold doors effortlessly accommodate double and triple-glazing insulation, ensuring optimal performance regardless of the material choice.

Resistance and Wear

Aluminium stands out for its exceptional durability. A professionally constructed, treated, and installed aluminium bifold door typically boasts high resistance to corrosion, rust, and wear.

While corrosion may occasionally pose a concern, particularly in harsh environments and coastal regions, opting for a powder-coated finish significantly mitigates this risk.

Aluminium bifold doors are less prone to warping, making them an excellent choice for regions with warmer climates or for installations in summer houses.

Although powder-coated aluminium surfaces may sustain scratches at times, these not only mar the appearance but also expose the underlying metal to potential corrosion. Nevertheless, modern finishes, coatings, and regular maintenance effectively address this issue.

On the other hand, uPVC is engineered to withstand chemicals, sunlight, and wear, rendering it highly durable across most climates with minimal risk of warping or bending.

However, prolonged exposure to extreme weather conditions may eventually lead to some warping, impacting the door’s functionality.

Over time, uPVC doors may exhibit signs of wear more prominently compared to aluminium counterparts. The plain white appearance of uPVC doors, in particular, may develop a pink or yellow hue due to continuous UV exposure.

Fortunately, there are various colour and finish options available to alleviate these concerns and maintain the door’s aesthetic appeal.

Colours and Style

When discussing colour options for doors, you might come across the term RAL, which refers to the RAL Classic system—a widely recognised range of colours used for powder coating, varnishes, and plastics.

The powder-coated finish applied to aluminium doors offers a vast array of RAL colours to choose from. Whether you prefer a sleek contemporary look or a bold red or avocado green, there are numerous palettes available to suit your preferences. Professional door manufacturers can typically accommodate a wide range of colour choices.

In the past, uPVC fixtures were not as customizable as aluminium, but advancements in technology now allow for uPVC doors to be enhanced with various RAL colours and finishes. Additionally, a wood-effect finish is achievable if that option appeals to you.

However, achieving the same level of warmth and stylish aesthetics with uPVC as with aluminium can be more challenging due to uPVC’s distinct standard look. Aluminium, with its ability to accommodate slimmer frames, often appears more stylish and contemporary.

Sightlines of Aluminium Bifold Doors versus uPVC Bifold Doors

When choosing between uPVC and aluminium bifold doors, the sightlines through the door play a significant role.

Sightlines, also referred to as door ‘stiles’, denote the non-glass sections of bifold doors. A larger glass area creates a more expansive and impressive view.

While some may value stylish sightlines as part of the overall aesthetic, most prioritize maximizing the view.

Due to its superior strength compared to uPVC, aluminium allows for a greater proportion of glass relative to the frame. Consequently, aluminium provides a broader view compared to uPVC.

The trend towards slim and ultra-slim frames in design ensures outstanding views with minimal sightlines, without compromising stability or security.

Aluminium leads in this regard, with aluminium bifold doors typically featuring smaller sightlines than their uPVC counterparts.

Security Measures On Bi-fold Doors

Both aluminium and uPVC choices are equipped with security features tailored to residential and commercial needs. Additional security measures may be required for door panels.

Both aluminium and uPVC bifold doors are robust enough to accommodate reinforced glass, PVC, and other protective panels.

Various locking options are available for doors, including twin-point locks, euro cylinders, and deadbolt locks.

Child locks can be activated, along with supplementary safety features such as fingerprint scanners and bulletproof glass. For further insights into bifold door security, explore our comprehensive guide.

Noise Considerations

Noise is an essential aspect to consider when comparing aluminium and uPVC options.

Aluminium frames, owing to their metal composition, tend to transmit sound more readily, potentially resulting in louder operation. However, the incorporation of double or triple glazing significantly reduces external noise levels.

In contrast, uPVC bifold doors inherently offer superior sound insulation compared to aluminium. This characteristic makes uPVC an excellent choice for patio doors situated near busy roads or other sources of noise.

Durability and Strain

In high-traffic areas where bifold doors are regularly operated by numerous individuals, strain on the hinge mechanisms is inevitable, particularly for larger openings with multiple panels.

Aluminium bifold doors hold an advantage in this regard, thanks to their superior strength. Additionally, aluminium doors tend to be lighter than their uPVC counterparts for larger configurations, facilitating easier opening and closing.

The reduced weight results in less force and internal strain exerted on each panel, contributing to enhanced durability and longevity.

Aluminium is widely acknowledged as the preferred choice for bifold doors with numerous panels.

Maintenance For Your Bifold Doors

When it comes to maintenance, there’s minimal difference between the two materials. Aluminium bifold doors demand little upkeep.

They’re straightforward to clean, and their resilient finish ensures long-lasting aesthetics.

Likewise, maintaining uPVC bifold doors is relatively hassle-free, typically needing occasional cleaning with mild soap and water.

Standard white uPVC doors might warrant more frequent attention to deter dirt and grime from marring the surface. For stubborn dirt build-up, specialized cleaning solutions may be necessary.

Thermal Performance

Both uPVC and aluminium offer commendable insulation properties. However, aluminium tends to be more conductive than uPVC, potentially allowing more heat and cold to permeate.

This issue is effectively addressed by incorporating thermal breaks into the door structure, enhancing energy efficiency.

Modern doors feature polyamide thermal breaks that act as barriers, reducing conductivity and energy transfer, resulting in enhanced energy efficiency.

When coupled with appropriate glazing, aluminium frames have minimal impact on heating, cooling, and energy bills.

uPVC bifold doors are renowned for their exceptional thermal efficiency and insulation capabilities, effectively managing heating and cooling expenses.

Summary of UPVC v Aluminium Bifold Doors

In this comprehensive comparison, aluminium emerges as the dominant choice across various categories.

Aluminium Triumphs In:

  • Longevity
  • Environmental Impact
  • Sightlines
  • Strength
  • Durability and Wear Resistance
  • Style and Customization
  • Stability and Strain

uPVC Excels In:

  • Noise Insulation
  • Thermal Efficiency

While uPVC initially offers a lower price point, the overall cost considerations, including lifespan and warranties, narrow the gap.

The decision between uPVC bifold doors and aluminium systems ultimately hinges on personal preferences, specific requirements, and budget constraints. However, our analysis suggests that aluminium stands as the superior choice for bifold doors.