By Mike Schweiss, Schweiss Bifold Doors
We've been designing and building bifold doors for about 30 years now and have built units for uses that we never could have imagined back in the '80s. We've listened to architects, contractors, and potential buyers, about what they expect when looking at bifolds. And we've learned. Below are a few issues if you consider going bifold.
That means being visionary. Anticipate door traffic 10 years into the future. Often doors are a late consideration in construction projects. The very fact that bifolds are frequently used on a daily basis suggests planning of your door/doors should be a top priority of your total construction package.
A properly designed bifold can be the architectural highlight of the entire building. You can dress up bifolds with artistically designed windows; outer skins that match or contrast; even unique walk-through doors fashioned into the big door.
Bifolds make great window walls. They provide quick access to the outdoors yet offer complete
security when closed. We've supplied a number of doors for these types of window wall applications, including
units for a Harley-Davidson dealership in Hawaii. Bifolds were used to surround three sides of the showroom
floor. During the day the doors are opened to give visitors the easiest possible access to the inventory. At
night the doors are closed to secure the premises but the cycles remain fully on display for whomever might be
In an even more unusual application, design team members involved with the expansion of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN, called upon Schweiss to build a custom door that when inserted in the wall of a cantilevered observation level would serve as a large operable window. When in its fully open position the door provides breathtaking views of the Mississippi River below.
Bifolds are easily insulated. And power-driven automatic latches provide total security while ensuring weathertightness. Remote Control units permit the doors to be automatically opened and closed which is a particularly attractive feature for pilots since they can open their hangar door as they taxi up to it.
Bifold doors have multiple lift points throughout the width of the doorframe. This means less stress on the hinges and doorframe. Also in the open position, a bifold protrudes out only half the distance of a single-piece hinged door. This means less stress force to your building, and less potential for wind/snow damage when open.
Blowing snow or freezing rain is not a problem with bifolds. Because of slant angle, rain and snow doesn't pile up when bifolds are open. Also you don't have a weathertight door if it does not have top, bottom and side gaskets.
Check the warranty language for complete understanding. Buy from a supplier who provides on-site guidance to the installing contractor. This will ensure the proper installation and operation of the door.
Every door should be a custom door designed to fit precisely the measurements provided to the door supplier.
The bottom line is that architects and builders are doing amazing things with doors. Make certain your potential door supplier has the history and the design skills to provide a finished product that meets and exceeds every requirement.