Folding sliding or Sliding folding doors – ending the confusion

Little did we suspect when we started a little information site about interior doors just how much confusion there was about the different names for sliding folding doors (or folding sliding doors, if you like!)
A lot of people end up on our site looking for bi folding doors, but evidently they are not all looking for the same thing. It seems that the manufacturers and suppliers have added to the confusion by using the same term for different things, with the result that customers don’t really even know what to ask for. Actually, there are various types of door that slide and/or fold, but we would not necessarily refer to them as sliding folding doors.

From analysing visits to our site, it seems that people looking for concertina doors on the site are actually mostly looking for one of two types of sliding folding doors.

Sliding Folding Doors

Sliding Folding Doors

1) What WE call concertina doors on our site – and which the top manufacturers like Marley also seem to call the same: the type of sliding folding door that fits into a regular interior doorway, say, between your kitchen and dining room, and is made of flexible pvc panels (though there are solid wood varieties too) which fold up like a concertina. The Americans seem to call this an accordion door, by the way. They are like a ‘soft’ divider between two rooms, used just for privacy or to keep cooking smells out, but certainly not appropriate as an external door. As we have mentioned elsewhere, they are useful in that the door doesn’t fold out into the room and take up space and so are handy for pantries or other small rooms where a door cannot fold out without taking up most of the room.

2) The other type of folding sliding door is the bi-fold door – really, this is quite different from a concertina door, yet frequently gets referred to as such. We suppose it does behave like a concertina, so the name has stuck with many manufacturers, but it’s really not the right term. These doors are usually external doors, that open out onto a patio or garden. They are usually of the hard aluminium, double-glazed type, similar to French doors, which you may have in your home. The reason these come under the category of sliding folding doors is that they typically have pairs of door “wings”, where each pair is hinged in the middle, and where one of the wings in the pair is fixed to the wall. They sit in a rail which allows them to be opened such that they slide and “stack up”, again, much like a concertina, but with one pair of wings opening (stacking) at each side, which allows the room to be opened out onto the garden, patio etc. There are also interior bi-fold doors – two panels of wood, hinged in the middle, which open and close on a slider. It is also just possible that someone might refer to shower doors as concertina doors, since they are also a folding/sliding type of door.