My wife is considering bifold doors for the ensuite bathrooms in our new extension, so is this a good idea?
Bifold doors can be used in bathrooms, especially smaller ones, as the way they concertina up when closing makes them ideal for tight spaces. They can be hung quite easily and also fitted with locks, so bifold doors are perfect for flats and compact homes.
Let’s dive down into the subject of bathroom bifold doors in more detail, and discover whether they’re really a good idea for bathrooms, how to fit them – and also look at any privacy issues they can present…
Can You Use a Bifold Door as a Bathroom Door?
Yes, you can use a bifold door as a bathroom door if you choose to. The folding design of the bifold door (they basically concertina) makes them especially good for small spaces, so they’re more commonly seen in closets or other small spaces like larders.
However, if you are short of space and feel that a typical door would make things a bit too tight, a bifold door can be an excellent option.
Because you have to be precise with how you hang a bifold door and install the tracks, you may prefer to hire a professional to do this for you. However, if you want to do it yourself, here’s a short film about how to hang an interior bifold door.
What Are the Benefits of Bifold Doors?
As we mentioned, a bifold door is a good way to save space. If the bathroom itself is small, or you don’t have much space outside it so the door could open outwards, a bifold door is the best solution.
Sometimes, if space is tight, we can do away with a door altogether. A closet, for example, could have a nice curtain across it, or you could even simply leave it as an open doorway. Of course, this isn’t ideal for a bathroom because you need privacy, so a more solid but space-saving door like a bifold is the perfect solution.
What Are the Problems With Bifold Doors?
Bifold doors need careful installation. A top-hung set needs a heavy-duty architrave to take its weight, while a bottom-rolling door needs tracks installed on the floor (in exactly the right place).
If anything is misaligned or becomes out of sync with time, the doors will not open, close, or fold properly. Plus, the track needs to be kept completely free of debris or liquids to prevent the doors from becoming stuck. So, if you choose this option, be prepared to sweep, clean, and occasionally oil the doors and their mechanism.
Can bifold doors trap fingers? Yes, they can, so you’ll need to look out for models that have finger protection installed. Alternatively, you can buy finger protection guards from places like Amazon, which are pretty easy to fit.
One other thing to take into account: privacy. Now, yes, you can shut the door and it offers better soundproofing thn a curtain. However, most bifold doors come with glass panels as they’re not generally designed for bathrooms. So, you may have to shop around to find a solid set, or even have one custom-made.
If you need a glass panel to let in light (for example, in an en-suite bathroom without a window or skylight), choose a frosted glass that gives a bit more privacy. It’s not really possible to install blinds on bifold doors.
Can a Bifold Door Have a Lock?
You’ll be relieved to know that yes, you can put a lock on a bifold door. Because most bifold doors are used as patio doors, the most common type of locking mechanism you’ll find is a secure multipoint lock. This is overkill for your bathroom or downstairs toilet.
The easiest lock to install for a bathroom bifold door is a simple hook and eye system. This ensures that the door can’t be opened from the outside while being super-easy to fit and use. You could also use a bolt if you prefer.
Can Bifold Doors Open From Both Sides?
Yes, you choose which way you install bifold doors, so they can open and fold inwards or outwards. It’s the convention with traditional bathroom doors that they open inwards into the room, so in that case, you’d try to install your door and rails on the inside of the bathroom.
Do Bifold Doors Need a Track?
Most bifold doors run on a track, which needs to be fitted to the right spot on the floor to enable a smooth running action. However, you can also get “trackless” bifold doors: how do these work?
Well, they’re actually not trackless – they’re simply top-hung. So, instead of having a track along the floor, there’s a track attached to the lintel or ceiling, and the top of the door runs along these. The advantage of this system is that you don’t need a floor track. This looks really good in an en-suite bathroom, as you can have the same flooring running uninterrupted between the rooms.
Which is the best system for a bathroom? Well, we like the look of the “trackless” doors, but they won’t have such a stable and smooth operation as the bottom track type. It’s a bit of a case of style or substance when it comes to choosing which type.
Don’t assume that because a door is light that it doesn’t need any sort of track. You’ll end up with a rickety and wobbling sort of motion, which is unpleasant to use and won’t match your upscale bathroom.
Do Bifold Doors Break Easily?
There are more hinges on a bifold door, so there are technically more parts that can go wrong than with a standard door. However, if you invest in a well-made set and install them correctly (or have them installed for you), they shouldn‘t break easily.
Make sure you keep them well-maintained. Give the hinges a splash of oil to keep them running smoothly, and likewise, make sure the bottom (or top) of the doors are still gliding along the tracks. Keep the tracks clear of any debris, and run the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner along them regularly to prevent any build-up.
Can You Put a Pocket Door in a Bathroom? (Is This the Same as a Bifold Door?)
A pocket door is different from a bifold door, although they both have the same objective: to open and close without swinging into the room. Instead of folding like a bifold door, a pocket door slides along its track into a void in the wall or frame, its “pocket”.
Like a bifold door, a pocket door is perfect if space is tight. We often see them used for kitchen utility areas, walk-in cupboards, or dressing rooms. They’re also an excellent choice for an en-suite or a small downstairs lavatory.
It’s not straightforward to fit a pocket door yourself, so there may be an upfront cost to get it properly installed and the “pocket” created. However, once it’s in place, you’ll have a sleek and discreet space-saving door.
Summary: Are Bifold Doors Going Out of Fashion?
We read a few recent articles on this, and we have to say that opinions are divided! According to some designers and realtors, they’re so last decade, whereas other interiors experts say they’re still one of the most stylish options for your patio doors.
As with a lot of home fashion, we say, go with what works for you. If you install a bifold door to your en-suite then a glossy magazine tells you it’s the home equivalent of low-rise jeans, so what?
The most important thing is that you’ve saved space and that your bathroom, separate toilet, or en-suite wet room will be a far more comfortable room to use.