If you’re planning to install a new door to bridge your home with your garden, then a set of external bifold doors is sure to be attractive. Unlike regular opening back doors, these devices comprise several panels, all attached to each other with hinges, so that the entire door can be folded away in a concertina. This configuration allows doors to be made enormous: the largest set can cover six or seven metres, effectively opening out an entire room to the garden.
What’s more, since they come with lots of glass, folding patio doors can allow lots of natural light to enter the home, boosting the sense of space by illuminating every shadowy corner, and by allowing you to see further. They’re also great to look at – any visitors to your home are sure to take note when your folding door elegantly slides to one side, and collapses into a relatively miniscule space.
But do folding doors have some weaknesses? For one thing, they tend to be larger than their more traditional equivalents. And, like all patio doors, they tend to be perceived as a security risk. After all, they allow those outside your home to see into it – and, if the would-be intruder is sufficiently resourceful, to break into it.
So how secure are bifolding patio doors, really? And what can be done to lessen the risk? Let’s examine the problem…
Patio Door Glazing: Isn’t glass a problem?
You might suspect that having an enormous pane of glass separating your interior from your garden would present a tempting target for would-be burglars – and you might worry that all it would take is for the burglar to forcefully enter your home. Fortunately, there are several reasons why burglars tend not to favour this strategy.
Firstly, a pane of double-glazed glass requires quite a lot of force to shatter – and when it does, it’ll create an almighty, instantly-recognisable racket that’ll vastly increase the chances of being caught. Secondly, this is likely to cause injury to the intruder. Being close enough to hit the glass with enough force to break it is a huge risk to their own safety.
All of our external doors and windows sets come with high quality double glazing as standard. Your safety and home security is very important to us.
If your doors aren’t properly seated in the track, then burglars will find it easier to physically prize them away from it. Similarly, if the door can’t properly close and form a tight seal, then burglars will be able to exploit the gaps around the sides to gain entry. For this reason, it’s especially important to be careful when installing your external bifold door – take frequent measurements to ensure that everything fits together nicely.
When it comes to glass, it’s important that it’s installed from the inside of the door – that way would-be thieves won’t be able to remove the beading around the edge and slide the entire panel away.
How to secure bifolding patio doors
So how are we to make a set of patio doors more secure? The answer depends on the material the doors in question are made from. Timber doors can be modified, and have extra locks added to them. uPVC doors, by contrast, cannot – and attempting to do so will almost certainly lead to the door being irreparably damaged.
From a security perspective, it’s best to go with two separate locks – a five-lever mortice deadlock and a deadbolt. That way, if one device fails, the other will remain active, ensuring that the door can’t be broken through. Most home insurers will not only demand that doors be locked, but they’ll also insist that the locks in question meet a certain standard. If you’re in the remotest doubt, check with them to ensure that you’ll be covered in the event of a break-in. When it comes to large folding doors, it’s best to err on the side of caution and opt for multiple locking points up and down the length of the door.
If you’re especially concerned about the glass being broken, then you might go for a metal grille on the rear of the glass, or special security-film that’ll hold the door’s glass aloft even after it’s shattered, thereby preventing burglars from getting in. This will, naturally, impact the way that the door looks, which can be a deal-breaker if you’re opting for a glass door of this sort for aesthetic reasons.
You might also attach a glass-break alarm to the door. These tiny electronic devices affix to the glass itself and go off whenever someone tried to tamper with the glass. The sensors tend to be sensitive enough to trigger properly, but not so sensitive that they go off whenever the wind picks up. Combine it with other security measures, like CCTV and motion-sensitive security lights, and you’ll have robust protection against all but the most resourceful burglar.
Folding doors are a popular choice for patio owners, as they offer functional and aesthetic advantages which can’t be achieved through other sorts of door. Like all patio doors, however, they’re perceived as a security weakness. With the right installation and the right choice of accompanying security technology, however, there’s no reason that your external bifold door need compromise on keeping your home safe.