The growing trend of folding-sliding doors

Andrew Royle, UK commercial director at P C Henderson looks at the growing trend of folding-sliding doors (FSDs) and what factors to consider when specifying these.

When considering exterior doors and extensions, the use of sliding hardware for timber framed glass doors is ideal to suit the growing trend for the indoor/outdoor experience. Exterior FSDs are seeing a surge in popularity as they can create a transition from indoor to outdoor space, bringing the outside in. During warm weather, the doors can be completely opened to allow light, air and access to outside whereas in the winter the glass array offers much needed natural light and an open feel.

When specifying external door systems, design and security are two of the most important factors to consider but it’s easy to compromise one for the other. To maximise on the indoor/ outdoor experience, there are some design styles to consider before specifying either folding doors or sliding doors. Folding doors, when fully open, will only use up a small fraction of room, opening up a continuous flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces. Exterior folding doors can help realise an architect’s vision, but due to the opening size and considering the multiple points to secure, there is a need to ensure that the gear system provided has the high performance of a secure solution, together with the look and feel desired by the client. Sliding doors, on the other hand, have the benefit of having individual door panels that can be considerably larger than folding door panels so on larger openings fewer panels are needed. When closed, it results in more glass and less frame producing excellent sight lines.

Another consideration is the ease of operation, specifically how the doors open, slide and close. One clever innovation utilises a twinbolt locking mechanism that allows folding doors to be locked internally at the top and bottom of the door by turning one handle 90 degrees. Offering two points of discreet security, this system, unlike many others on the market ,requires minimal routing and additional adjustment to the supplied components. This mechanism is designed to maintain a system’s security and weather resistance while offering additional benefits of working with other mechanisms such as a high quality thumbturn.

Folding and sliding door components and designs are evolving to match the growing interior/exterior trend, while also realising the architectural visualisation. With this in mind, specifying hardware that meets high security standards will add peace of mind and safety to occupiers and the property, meeting both aesthetic and functional requirements. To this end, it is important that exterior folding door hardware is subject to rigorous performance testing standards such as the UK’s PAS 24 and Europe’s EN1627. Both ensure that a product has a secure system which offers security of the highest standard, giving certified systems recognition that they meet the requirements to be classified as burglar resistant. Security accreditations should also be coupled with corrosion resistant qualities with the extremes of the British weather being taken into account. Hardware components should be made from 316 marine grade stainless steel to ensure a high level of corrosion resistance.

Finally, Secured by Design (SBD), the official UK Police flagship initiative supporting the principles of ‘designing out crime’, ensures external doors fit both practical safety require- ments as well as creating the desired sleek aesthetic. Owned by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), SBD focuses on crime prevention of homes and commercial premises and promotes the use of security standards for a wide range of applications and products. The principles have been proven to achieve a reduction of crime risk by up to 75 per cent. Their objective is to reduce burglary and crime in the UK through physical security and processes. Products carrying the Secured by Design certification have been rigorously tested to withstand forced entry.