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Bi-fold and a conservatory
16 August 2012 | Doors | Written by

Terry Richardson

Terry Richardson

As demand for bi-folding doors in both the commercial and domestic market continues to grow, more and more installers and local builders are benefitting from this exciting and profitable business opportunity. But TWR Trade Frames’ Managing Director Terry Richardson has also noticed an increasing appetite for technical information related to the installation of the product.

Here, in the first of a regular column for Clearview Magazine, Terry Richardson begins to address some of these technical concerns. To kick-off Terry addresses one of the issues associated with installing a bi-folding door with a conservatory.

I’m installing a conservatory with a wide-span bi-fold door. Are there any structural concerns?

Bi-folding doors are often being installed either as a replacement for patio or French doors or as part of a conservatory installation, which makes for an impressive home improvement spectacle.

But due to the weight of a conservatory and the complexity of installing a bi-folding door in conjunction with one, it’s vital that certain procedures are put in place otherwise what was intended to be a transformation of the homeowner’s living space could soon come crashing down on them.

So here are a few tips to avoid any hassle. Firstly, when installing a bi-fold with a conservatory it’s important that all precautions are taken because a badly installed bi-fold could result in the top panes of a conservatory collapsing.

One way to avoid this happening is to ensure the structure supports the weight of the conservatory. When you build a conservatory without a bi-folding door, you would usually install structural posts or couplings between each of the frames.

However with a wide-span bi-fold there will be no support, which means the conservatory roof will actually be resting on the top rail of the bi-fold door.  This can lead to bowing when the doors are opened and could cause problems with opening, closing and locking the door.

For this reason we recommend installing a structural ring beam or portal frame that supports the weight of the roof above the bi-fold door. This will ensure the homeowner has many years of trouble-free use and the bi-fold will glide smoothly across the floor. At this point of the installation if may also be worthwhile contacting a structural engineer to ensure complete peace of mind.

Bi-fold doors are a fantastic product but do require care during installation, with the example above being just one of the reasons why. Installing a bi-folding door as part of a conservatory doesn’t have to be a reason to shy away from the higher margins associated with the product though.

At TWR our technical support team provide specific advice for each installation depending on the size and complexity of the project, along with practical fitting instructions and a ‘do’s and don’t sheet. We even offer an in-house bi-fold training scheme to ensure installers don’t miss out on this lucrative opportunity.

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