If you’re considering buying a bifold door or you’re simply wondering about your current doors, you may be asking yourself about the origin of bifold doors. Unlike conventional swing doors that you can find in just about any building, bifolding doors are unique and offer an appealing and practical element that swing doors don’t.
You may be asking yourself, do I really care about the history of bifold doors, it can’t be that interesting, can it? Well, dear reader, I’m glad to tell you that you’d in fact be wrong. Pharaoh Phobia (people with a fear of mummies) beware! Because bi folding doors have roots dating back to ancient Egyptian tombs.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the evolution and history of bifold doors. We’ll also go over how to choose the right material for bifolding doors and what to look for.
Ancient History of the Bifold Door
As we mentioned, the mechanism used in bi folding doors dates to ancient Egypt – making it more than 3,000 years old. King Tut’s tomb features a folding bed with bronze hinges that utilize a similar mechanism as the modern bifold door. So next time you give a house tour you can tell your guests another similarity (besides your mutual adoration of red wine) you have with the opulent Pharaoh that further cements the fact that you have magnificent taste.
Biblical Bifold Doors
King Solomon, who ruled in Jerusalem during the golden age of Israel, commissioned an extravagant temple called the Solomon’s Temple or the First Temple. While this temple was destroyed during the Siege of Jerusalem, descriptions of its extravagance have persisted throughout history.
The temple is described in the bible in verses 31-35 and the doors of the inner sanctuary are said to be folding doors made of olive wood and decorated with palm trees, flowers, and cherubim overlaid with gold leaf.
Folding Doors in Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece
Bifolding doors were discovered in the ruins of Pompeii, Italy, an ancient town famous for being demolished by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 BC. Folding doors were quite popular in Pompeii because residents preferred them to single-leaf doors, making them a common feature of countless family homes.
Bifolding doors were used in both wide entryways that connected to dining areas along with narrow doorways connecting to bathrooms and kitchens. In other words, not only is the bifold door long-lasting and timeless but it’s been used as a versatile, highly functional doorway for thousands of years!
In addition, folding doors can be traced back to Ancient Greece. The ancient Greeks used doors that were hung from pivots on the top and bottom of the door. They eventually developed sliding doors as well. Their folding doors, also known as leaves, were set on a center hinge and folded either inward or outward. However, because these doors were often made from bronze or marble instead of wood, they were very heavy and difficult to use. Thankfully, folding doors today are much lighter and easier to use.
The Evolution of Folding Doors
Fortunately for homeowners and business owners everywhere, folding doors never quite disappeared. While the bifold door along with its cousin – the folding room divider which was popular in Victorian England along with ancient China and Japan – could be found in households and mansions alike, classic bi folding doors didn’t see a rise in popularity again until about the 19th century. Around this time, bifold closet doors and pantry doors were most popular.
The Invention of the Folding Door
The invention and first patent of the modern bifold door is attributed to Guy Edwin Dixon in 1953. His patented invention featured full-height flexible hinges – a common feature of the modern bifold door. Guy E. Dixon founded a company called Panelfold, inc. which would go on to patent many more folding door-related inventions from operable walls to accordion partitions (modern room dividers).
Folding Doors Today
Since their historic uses in Pompeii, folding doors have returned as a popular option for any-sized doorway. The smaller bifold doors that were used in the 1800s are still used as well for narrow openings like bifold closet doors, bifold pantry doors, and other narrow doorways.
Why Are Bifold Doors Still Relevant?
There are so many reasons why bifolding doors are still relevant and so loved to this day. Below, we’ll go over a few reasons for their enduring relevance in contemporary architecture.
The modern bifold door is extremely versatile. Unlike traditional swing doors, bifold doors can fill any doorway, big or small, so they can be used in any part of your home or business. Bi folding doors don’t just fit any doorway, they fit any venue, whether it’s a commercial or residential application.
Folding doors are also highly functional and practical. They easily fold inward or outward to open entryways and unfold to close them off. This function can be used to open up or partition off doorways that connect the indoors to outdoors or interior rooms, providing you with more quiet and privacy inside your home or office.
Another feature that some folding doors include is folding outswing doors. Folding outswing doors allow you to open the entire doorway or just a single panel for easy movement between spaces.
They also feature a handy door configuration that allows you to open and close the doors from either or both sides, making the opening and closing function both versatile and highly functional.
Glass bifold doors combine the functionality of doors and windows, allowing for easy closing and opening of entryways and ample natural light even when closed.
One of the biggest reasons bi folding doors remain relevant is because they allow for a seamless transition between the indoors and outdoors that you don’t get with traditional swing doors.
Whether you’re running a classy wine bar with an outdoor seating area or you have a comfortable patio designed to entertain guests on cool summer nights, creating a natural flow between your indoor and outdoor spaces brings the two spaces together and allows guests to easily move in and out.
Quality bi fold doors bring a certain indescribable quality to your home or commercial space. There is something charming, elegant, and simply ineffable about the beauty of the folding door. Plus, their versatile style options make it easy for you to match the design of your doors to the rest of your home.
A Note on Nomenclature
You may be asking yourself, “Why are they called bifold doors?” They often feature more than two panels, so it doesn’t quite seem to make sense.
The reason why they’re called bi fold doors dates back to their origin. The traditional bifolding door only features two panels that fold in the middle, giving these doors their names. But even as more panels were added, the original name for bifold doors stuck. Therefore, folding doors and bi fold doors often refer to the same thing.
Types of Bifold Doors
The variation in the number of panels isn’t the only factor that distinguishes one bifold door from another. Style, material, and function play a vital role as well.
Bifold Closet Door
The bifold closet door was the most traditional use of bifold doors in recent history. Bifold doors are perfect for closet spaces because they can fit narrow openings and don’t take up as much space as swing doors do when they’re open.
Bifold Barn Doors
The bifold barn door usually features two or more top-hung wooden panels. Bifold barn doors are very popular interior bifold doors, which can double as bifold closet doors, kitchen doors, laundry room doors, or even bedroom doors.
Bifold Shower Door
The bifold shower door usually features modern, glass panels. A bifold shower door is perfect for anyone who wants to add an extra touch to their sleek shower design and benefit from these highly functional glass doors.
The Bifold Garage Door
When you think of a garage door, you probably imagine a sliding door that slides up into the ceiling. The bifold garage door offers a unique and elegant alternative. A bifold garage door usually features two or four large panels that fold together on both sides of the entryway. Like traditional garage doors, they can be wired so you can open them with a push of a button.
Patio Folding Doors
Bifold patio doors are quickly becoming one of the most popular uses of folding doors. Bifold patio doors can fit exceptionally large entryways and open up whole walls to views of your backyard, garden, and patio while ensuring easy access.
They allow fresh air, sunlight, and views in, along with an easy flow of traffic between indoor and outdoor spaces. Even when closed, glass bifold doors provide expansive views and natural light.
At Panda Windows & Doors, our folding doors provide a 90% unobstructed view when opened, allowing you to maximize outdoor views and available natural light. When it comes to patio doors, it really doesn’t get much better than glass folding doors.
What to Look for in a Bifold Door
When choosing the right bifolding door you have to ask yourself a few questions:
- Why are you installing bifold doors in your home or commercial space? Is it for interior or exterior use? For a large or narrow doorway?
Keep in mind that larger openings will require more panels and smaller ones will only require two. If you’re looking for an exterior bifold door, then look for glass bifold doors. If you want an interior bifold door, consider whether you want the privacy of a solid wood door.
- What materials should I use?
Materials play a huge part in choosing the right bifold door. Solid wood panels may provide a more rustic and classy feel, but are more suitable as interior doors. Glass panels are perfect as patio doors and other exterior doors, wherever you want to enjoy natural light and views, or you can use glass bifold doors inside and add privacy with the addition of curtains or blinds.
What frame should I pick?
Once you’ve decided on a folding glass door, choose the frame. Aluminum frames are often more durable than wood ones, however, there are options that feature wood clad aluminum frames that combine the wood aesthetic with the durability of aluminum.
- Which direction should my bifold door open?
The direction your bifold door opens depends on where you want to store the doors. Choose whichever room or outside space the folded doors will be the least obstructive.
Bifold Doors at Panda Windows and Doors
Although we’re big fans of bifold doors, not all bifold doors are the same. To get the most out of your bifold door you need a quality folding door that is expertly manufactured, designed, and framed to look great, function seamlessly, and built to last.
In addition to providing superior construction, we also allow endless customization options so that you don’t have to compromise on size, style, or function
So what are you waiting for? Join the ranks of an architectural trend that has endured for generations – reach out to us today to begin the process of transforming your home or business with the addition of the highest quality bifold doors available.
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