Are you looking to install new bi-fold doors?
Common in big conference hotels, most modern homes, and fusion restaurants, bi-fold doors or folding-sliding doors revamp open spaces, making them visually appealing and fun. Bi-folds stand out from traditional doors because they consume less floor space and create a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces.
When it comes to choosing the right bi-fold doors, homeowners have two options to consider: Top-hung and bottom-rolling bi-fold doors. While these doors serve the same function, they offer unique features and benefits.
If you’re thinking of adding a bi-fold door to your home, we are glad you have found us. In this guide, we discuss the differences between top-hung and bottom-rolling bi-fold doors and help you select the options that suit your needs and preferences.
Top-Hung Vs. Bottom-Rolling Bi-Fold Doors
Most commercial spaces and homeowners opt for top-hung bi-folds because they offer a smoother operation. As the name suggests, top-hung or top-track doors operate by running along the tracks on the top frame, using the bottom track as a guide.
These bi-fold doors are suspended from the top track and pivoted on a top hinge. As a result, they fold neatly and compactly when open. This unique design also makes it easy to clean and maintain.
The weight of the door is concentrated at the top of the frame heads, and it gets distributed downward from there. However, there is a need for a strong lintel to bear the door’s weight, plus the weight of the wall or ceiling above them.
Sometimes, top-hang bi-fold doors are unstable. That’s where captive rollers come in. The top roller stabilizes the door and ensures smooth operation and vertical adjustment.
One of the biggest advantages of these bi-folds is that they come with a deep internal frame. As such, the door manufacturer can give it slim components that increase its overall aesthetic.
On the downside, they require a certain amount of headroom above the opening, which can be an issue in homes with low roofs or ceilings.
Bottom-Rolling Bi-Fold Doors
On the other hand, bottom-rolling bi-fold doors slide along the bottom track to open and close. The door’s weight is concentrated at the base of the door, hence, there is no need for lintels or overhead beams.
Unlike top-hung bi-fold doors, bottom-rolling doors offer great stability and reliability. They open and close smoothly and require less headroom. Besides this, bi-fold doors allow for a larger opening than its counterpart.
The only disadvantage is that it can be difficult to clean debris and dirt from the bottom track. Furthermore, it can be an obstruction, especially when moving furniture or other objects through the doorway. In addition, bottom-rolling bi-fold doors cost more because of their sliding or rolling mechanism.
Top-Hung vs. Bottom-Rolling Bi-Fold Doors: Comparison
1. Operation or Ease of Use
In a top-hung bi-fold system, most of the door’s weight is supported at the top of the frame. This makes the bi-fold door hard to use without the appropriate set of captive rollers.
For this reason, top-hung bi-folds are highly likely to drop out of their tracking system, increasing the difficulty of opening and closing the door. What’s more, it poses a security problem. Because if the door fails to close properly, burglars can find an easy way to break into your house.
As for bottom-rolling bi-fold doors, they are easier to operate. In a bottom-rolling bi-fold door system, the door gets mounted on the bottom track. This lowers the door’s center of gravity, reducing the strain the door’s weight places on the top of the frame.
Although bottom-rolling bi-fold doors still require some effort to move around, they’re more stable and easy to operate than top-hung bi-fold doors.
2. Ease of Installation
Top-hung bi-fold doors are usually hard to install, unlike bottom-rolling bi-folds. As mentioned earlier, top-hang bi-fold installation needs overhead beams or lintel to support the weight of the wall or roof above.
Bottom-rolling bi-fold door installation requires no lintel or overhead beam because the door’s weight gets suspended at the base of the door. That means you don’t have to worry that your door will drop from its tracking system.
Bi-folds require regular maintenance to remain functional and aesthetically pleasing. By keeping your bi-fold door in the best condition, you can enjoy its many benefits for years.
Top-hung bi-folds are typically easier to clean and maintain compared to bottom-rolling bi-folds. With bottom-rolling bi-fold doors, you must take care of the bottom track.
When these access doors open, dirt, dust, and debris can accumulate on the track, limiting the doors’ sliding motion. Luckily, you can keep the bottom track clean by running a vacuum cleaner along the track.
Even though a top-hung bi-fold door has a bottom guide, accumulated dirt and debris in the track rarely affects its movement. That’s because the door’s sliding motion isn’t dependent on its bottom track.
4. Opening Size
Because bottom-rolling bi-folds run along a bottom track, they allow larger door openings when fully opened. Unlike top-hung bi-folds, these doors don’t pivot and consume less floor space.
Homeowners can choose from a wide range of top-hung and bottom-rolling bi-fold doors, depending on their style and color preferences.
Both bi-fold doors come in a variety of materials. But the most common include aluminum, timber, and uPVC. Bi-folds with aluminum frames are lightweight and durable. They also lend your home a sleek and modern look, especially when finished with light colors (grey or white).
Timber-based bi-fold doors usually have a rustic look and deliver a vibe most homeowner love. These doors can withstand a variety of elements, thanks to the sturdy nature of timbers.
Lastly, uPVC bi-fold doors are affordable compared to aluminum and timber doors. They might not look as visually pleasing as the other, but they are easy to maintain. Furthermore, they offer buyers several color choices that match the style of most homes and properties.
That said, top-hung bi-fold doors have an overall clean look since their top track hides by the door. Therefore, it lends you the privacy you desire while allowing in lots of natural light. Bottom-rolling bi-folds have a visible bottom track that might influence the door’s visual aspect.
How To Maintain Bi-Fold Doors
As said earlier, the bi-fold door requires regular maintenance to stay in tip-top condition. But what does the maintenance involve? Below are a few tips to keep your indoor or outdoor bi-folds in good condition.
1. Clean the tracks
Since bi-fold doors run along tracks, it helps to remove any dirt or debris on the track. You can use a soft brush or vacuum cleaner to remove the accumulated leaves and other debris.
2. Lubricate the hinges
Over time the bi-fold door hinged might become stiff. When this happens, opening and closing the door might prove difficult. For easy operation, apply silicone-based lubricant to the hinges. If the doors don’t close flush with the frame even after lubricating the hinges, find a screwdriver and adjust them.
3. Tighten loose screws
Loose screws on the tracks, handles, and hinges are a matter of concern. If not tightened, your doors will sag. This also makes your door susceptible to break-ins by burglars.
4. Repair or replace damaged or worn-out parts
Never wait till your door falls to repair it. Regularly check for signs of wear and tear. And if you observe any damage, whether on the tracks or rollers, replace these parts as soon as possible.
5. Clean the door and frame
No one wants a bi-fold door that looks frosty or dirty. So, clean the glass and the frame regularly using a soft, damp cloth and detergent (mild). Don’t forget to dry the door.
This applies mostly to homeowners who live in places with extreme temperatures and weather changes. Weatherstripping helps to keep the cold air out and boost a home’s energy efficiency.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do Top-hung and Bottom-rolling bi-folds require a lock?
Well, most people use bi-fold doors as the main access door into their homes. Because of this, these doors require a locking system to enhance one’s home security. It’s wise to invest in lock systems featuring anti-drill cylinders that adhere to Police Preferred security standards.
If your home hosts young kids, it helps to install finger-safe gaskets to keep those tiny fingers and hands safe.
2. Do bi-fold doors require a bottom track?
Most indoor wood or uPVC bi-fold door can work without the bottom track. However, aluminum or steel outdoor bi-folds require bottom tracks because they need additional guidance to open and close (fold-back). The bottom tracks also support the weight of the metal door panels and double-glazed glass.
Basically, the tracks guide and offer the bi-fold doors’ structural strength. Besides, they keep the weather out.
Bi-fold doors are great options for anyone looking to save space while increasing privacy and natural lighting in a space. These doors come in a range of styles, finishes, and colors that complement existing décor in indoor and outdoor living spaces.
The choice between top-hung and bottom-rolling bi-fold doors boils down to your specific need and preferences. Top-hung bi-folds offer a great visual appeal and are low-maintenance. Bottom-rolling bi-folds offer a larger door opening, are easier to mount, and don’t place too much weight on the top of the frame.
Ultimately, it’s wise to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option and select the one that matches your budget, lifestyle, and home design. That said, check your area building regulation before installing a bi-fold door in your home.
If you need clarification on something, leave us a comment below.