By Sioned Roberts, Marketing Director, AluK
More than a decade ago, AluK did much to help shape the UK aluminium bi-fold market with the launch of our now iconic BSF70 bi-fold. It was a door which helped to bring the aluminium bi-fold into the mainstream – bridging the gap between aspirational and accessible for many.
Easy to fabricate and easy to fit, it has remained popular with fabricators and installers ever since and the BSF70 product pages are still the most visited on our trade website at www.aluk.co.uk.
The British public’s love affair with the bi-fold is largely undimmed. A quick check on Google searches over the last year shows searches for bi-folds continuing to outstrip those for either patio doors or composite doors.
There’s no doubt that sliding patios are enjoying a resurgence, and we’re certainly seeing that in sales of our SC156 slider, but it is not at the expense of our bi-fold doors. Ironically, the resurgence in sliders is being driven in part by some of the same TV property shows which helped to popularise the bi-fold in the first place, but sales of both sliders and bi-folds have been bolstered by the post-lockdown home improvement boom.
At the start of June, we launched a new consumer website at www.alukhome.co.uk to inform and inspire homeowners with what they can achieve in aluminium and generate retail enquiries for our customers. Unsurprisingly, the most visited product pages on that site are for our bi-fold doors.
It’s a similar picture on social media too. On Instagram in particular, the most ‘likes’ and comments we receive are invariably for bi-fold door installations featuring the classic open plan living space/garden combination. And, where we’re tagged by customers in their social media posts, it’s three panel, anthracite grey bi-folds which still dominate the content, although there are an increasing number of white doors mixed in.
In terms of future trends, the momentum for AluK in the bi-fold market is with our F82 system. It’s already the third most visited product on our trade website and we’ve seen those numbers rise significantly following our announcement of new mullion and floating corner options in June.
With U-Values of 1.3 double-glazed and 0.9 triple glazed, the F82 meets the requirements of the expected new Part L Regs and it boasts class leading weather performance (up to Class 4 air permeability and Class E900 water tightness).
From a homeowner perspective, the F82 is a highly desirable door, with slim 97mm sightlines and proportionately more glazed area to let in more light. It allows for fewer panels to be used across wider openings to give a less obstructed view. And when it comes to fewer obstructions, there is also now a floating corner option to open up indoor spaces in a really dramatic way.
Heavy duty 150kg capacity stainless steel compact rollers make for reassuringly smooth opening and closing, and the F82 comes with the Secured by Design accreditation which is so familiar to retail buyers.
For fabricators and installers, the F82 is particularly appealing because it targets the higher end of the retail market where margins are stronger and where there’s a bigger emphasis on aesthetics and innovation. The bespoke pop-up T-handle, for instance, has all the premium design qualities valued by those more discerning buyers and the distinctive square bead provides the minimalist lines many are looking for.
Crucially, it’s quick and easy to manufacture with just four key profiles and a reduced number of gaskets which significantly reduces the necessary stockholding. And it’s quick and easy to fit with clever low sightline cill options and an extensive range of sub cills so that it can be positioned in virtually any type of build.