Bring Your Garden into Your Living Room – Bi-Fold and Sliding Doors. Interview with VELFAC
Building your own home allows you to influence the design to meet your functional and aesthetic preferences. Many solutions depend entirely on personal preferences, for example, some people prefer a modern style, while others a more traditional design. As we routinely work with self-builders we are able to recognise the trends that occur in house design.
Recently many of the self-builders that we have worked with want a house design that offers natural light and a view onto their garden.
In order to achieve both these features, selecting appropriate doors and windows is crucial. We are frequently asked for advice on solutions which strike a balance between glazing, aesthetics, energy efficiency and security.
If the aforementioned features are a part of your Self Build brief, this article will help you make up your mind on which door solution will help you achieve the optimal view of your garden from your living area. We asked Donna Muir of VELFAC for her expert advice regarding sliding and bi-fold door solutions.
WHO ARE VELFAC AND WHERE ARE YOU BASED?
VELFAC is a leading designer and manufacturer of composite windows and doors which combine external aluminium frames with internal timber. We supply glazing to major commercial projects, housebuilders, and through VELFAC Direct – to single dwelling projects and domestic customers, including self-builders. VELFAC Direct is based in Kettering, Northants, where we also have a showroom.
WHAT SERVICES AND PRODUCTS DO YOU OFFER?
We supply a range of bespoke window units, casement, sliding, bi-parting, hinged and bi-fold doors, and access doors. All our products are made to measure, and we provide design support throughout the specification process. We also have a network of approved joiners who are specially trained to install VELFAC products.
THE SLIM FRAME DOORS YOU OFFER APPEAR TO BE REALLY POPULAR AMONG SELF-BUILDERS WHO WANT TO ACHIEVE UNRESTRICTED VIEWS DIRECTLY ONTO THEIR GARDEN. HOWEVER, DOES THE SLIM FRAME COMPROMISE THEIR DURABILITY?
Not at all. In fact, the distinctive slim VELFAC frame is designed to be exceptionally durable – the external aluminium frame is very hard-wearing and requires no repainting for the lifetime of the installation. The frame construction is also fully ventilated and drained which adds to its durability.
HOW DO THEY PERFORM IN TERMS OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY? HOW EFFECTIVE IS THE THERMAL INSULATION OF YOUR PRODUCTS?
The VELFAC system delivers great thermal insulation – our double-glazed units can deliver U-values as low as 1.36 W/m2k – with triple glazing even lower at 0.8/m2k – both well below the minimum U-value of 1.80W/m2k currently specified by UK Building Regulations.
The slim frame design helps improve insulation as it increases the amount of glass in the window, and the glass is a better insulator than the frame.
BI-FOLD AND SLIDING DOORS MAY IMPROVE YOUR COMFORT IN TERMS OF AESTHETICS AND THERMAL INSULATION, HOWEVER, HOW EFFECTIVE ARE THEY IN TERMS OF SECURITY?
The VELFAC composite frame design is very secure as the external aluminium frame is highly resistant to forced entry. In addition, our bi-fold and sliding doors feature espagnolette locking mechanisms (multiple locking points around the window), lockable handles, anti-lift devices, and internal glazing beads – this means that the glass pane can only be removed from the inside.
Moreover, where required, VELFAC can provide composite windows and doors that meet Part Q regulations, and the exacting standards of UK Police flagship initiative Secured by Design (SBD) – and all without any change to the distinctive ultra-thin frame design.
YOU OFFER TWO OPTIONS OF SLIDING DOORS MANUFACTURING. THEY CAN BE MADE OF TIMBER OR ALUMINIUM. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF EACH SOLUTION?
To clarify, our bi-fold doors feature an all-aluminium frame construction while our sliding and bi-parting doors feature composite frames. Aluminium is very hard wearing and lightweight, while composite frames are very popular with customers who want the strength and durability of aluminium but also the warmth of timber internally.
Composite frames can also feature different frame finishes inside and out, making them very versatile in terms of design and finish.
YOU ALSO OFFER A BI-PARTING OPTION FOR SLIDING DOORS, COULD YOU EXPLAIN WHEN THIS OPTION IS MOST APPROPRIATE?
The bi-parting door is the ideal solution for self-builders wanting to achieve a very large, uninterrupted opening (which can be up to 2.5m wide) with a door which takes up very little space when opened (unlike a folding door, which requires space for the panes when they are folded back).
This makes the bi-parting door a particularly good choice for narrow terraces or balconies – anywhere where space is limited. The frame construction also makes the door very easy to open and close, with the central panes moving outwards from the frame and then across the fixed sash.
WHAT’S THE RANGE OF DESIGN AND COLOUR OPTIONS FOR YOUR BI-FOLD AND SLIDING DOORS?
In terms of design, the distinctive composite frame is modern and contemporary, and features uniform sightlines which means that all VELFAC units maintain a seamless exterior finish when closed, resulting in sleek and stylish facades.
We offer the full range of RAL colours for both the aluminium and timber frames; we also offer anodised or metallic finishes for the aluminium frames and a clear lacquer finish for internal timber which brings out the beauty of the natural wood.
AT WHAT STAGE OF A SELF BUILD PROJECT SHOULD THEIR INSTALLATION BE CONSIDERED?
We advise any self-builder to approach us as early as possible so we can help them decide on the type of windows they want or need depending on the location and orientation of their development, their architectural vision and – of course – their budget. But we are happy to talk to self-builders at any stage of their project.
WHAT IS THE PRICE RANGE OF THE DOORS YOU OFFER? HOW DO THE PRICES COMPARE TO OTHER COMPANIES IN THE MARKET?
Customers who choose VELFAC are dealing directly with manufacturer, which is an advantage. Our average price per sqm is £450, which of course can increase or decrease depending on project size – we are not the cheapest solution on the market especially when compared to plastic (PVC) windows, however, lifetime costs should be taken into account when considering price.
VELFAC sliding doors come with a 12-year warranty (5 years for bi-fold doors) but have an expected operational lifetime of up to 40 years. Moreover, choosing thermally efficient windows, such as VELFAC windows, will save you potentially thousands of pounds in energy bills. Our team is very technically experienced and can help you find the right solution to meet your needs and budget.