Folding Windows

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Folding windows
Folding windows
Other Names
Folding Replacement Windows, Bi-fold windows, Accordion windows, Sliding folding windows, Concertina window
Windows which open outward as they fold back into easily managed panels.

Folding windows are a replacement window solution for large openings which offer uninterupted views and complete ventilation. When opened, a folding window provides an expansive view of a large area with no window frames to interrupt the view. When closed, the window presents protection against the elements.


[edit] Folding Windows

Homeowners with enclosed decks or porches may wish to include a folding window, also called a bi-fold window, accordion window, sliding folding window or concertina window, in their renovation plans. These windows are designed for large glass openings and feature a variety of operating options as well as different possibilities for glazing and framing materials. Folding replacement windows present a contemporary look while offering unique functionality.

A folding window is created by a bank of windows which are hinged together. They are equipped with wheels which roll the window panels along the top or bottom track to open or close the window. The window opens as entire unit, accordion-style, which then folds together at the end of the row into a single panel.

[edit] Benefits

Folding windows enhance the structural character of a home while removing barriers between the inside and outside of a house. Installation of a folding window involves installing the replacement folding window frame and then connecting the folding panels together. The windows are viewed as durable and reliable by industry observers

[edit] Placement

Replacement folding windows are a suitable choice for sunrooms, patios, a pool house or an enclosed deck. These windows are also a popular addition to a dividing area that separates the kitchen and the dining room or as an option to open a window in the corner of a room. A folding window can divide a room for more efficient functionality while maintaining the atmosphere of a large open room.

[edit] Features

A replacement folding window presents versatile functions including the flexibility to partially or fully open the window, the ability to open and close a window quickly, options for a top or bottom-supported system and varied stacking configurations. In addition, the homeowner can order the window to open either inward or outward. A home's architectural plan may also call for a folding window with center pivot options or paired panels.

[edit] Sizes and Shapes

Replacement folding windows do not come in standard sizes. The homeowner or architect must specify the number of panels for a folding window, the direction that the panels will open and the dimensions of the unit so that the window manufacturer can create a custom folding window to meet the requirements of each rough opening. The manufacturer will cut the replacement folding window to the home's specific measurements.

[edit] Considerations

Replacement folding windows are a good choice for homeowners who want to maximize the use of the home's indoor and outdoor space. The homeowner should be fully prepared before purchasing a folding window because of the folding window's unique features. A homeowner will want to ensure that the folding window is built to code to withstand all weather conditions. A trained and experienced window installer should install the replacement folding window because of the complexity of the project. The opening for the folding window must be precisely plumb so that the folding system can slide in properly and the frame header must be strong enough to support the folding window's top-hung system.

[edit] Framing Materials

The construction of a replacement folding window, composed of three to eight glass panels which are attached by hinges, can stretch to a maximum width of six meters. The complicated construction and large width are two reasons that a folding replacement window should be constructed from a strong and durable framing material. There are aluminum, vinyl, wood and composite folding window frames, each of which offers a different degree of dependability, weather resistance and convenience.

[edit] Energy-Efficient Window Framing Materials

Folding windows are a more costly window option so a homeowner should ensure that the window provides the best framing insulation available for the money spent. The U-factor is the standard industry rating that evaluates the window frame's thermal transmittance. The lower the U-Factor rating, the higher the level of energy efficiency. Replacement folding windows with acceptable U-Factors include those made of aluminum, vinyl and wood with aluminum cladding.

The added expenses incurred by purchasing energy efficient windows is partially offset by the rebates which are offered by the Departments of Energy of each state, as well as government assistance available in many countries. The savings in energy costs over the years will quickly compensate for the extra costs involved in purchasing properly-insulated replacement folding windows.

[edit] Wood

Wood frame replacement folding windows with aluminum cladding offer an energy-saving solution along with the beauty of wood interiors and weather-resistant exteriors. Most manufacturers of aluminum cladding windows display the Energy Star seal of approval which indicates that the product meets the energy efficiency guidelines set by the United States Department of Energy and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

All-wood folding windows can offer a good window option for homeowners who are looking for an interior window to divide two areas of a home. Homeowners who want to install a replacement folding window which will separate a dining room and a kitchen, or a living room and a patio, may appreciate the appeal of a wood frame folding window which adds a classic flair to the home's interior. Complete wood frame windows are not suggested as exterior windows since, unless painted or varnished annually, they can warp and rot.

[edit] Aluminum

Replacement folding windows with aluminum frames offer a more economical window choice. The aluminum frames are available in a variety of colors. Lower-grade aluminum frames conduct coldness which, in chilly climates, creates moisture along the frames and window seams. Newer grades of aluminum frames may offer a thermally efficient aluminum window solution.

[edit] Vinyl

Vinyl folding windows present a lower-cost replacement folding window option which many homeowners find easy to maintain and adjust. Vinyl windows are weather-resistant and many manufacturers feature energy efficient folding vinyl replacement windows.

[edit] Composite

Composite replacement folding window frames are produced from a blend of two or more materials. Composite folding window frame alternatives have a reputation as offering energy-efficient frames with good thermal insulation. Composite folding window options include those with vinyl with wood cladding, wood chips mixed with recycled plastic and fiberglass with interior wood veneers. Homeowners should check the energy efficiency of the composite folding window option that they prefer since different composite windows provide differing levels of energy efficiency.

[edit] Glazing Options

Assorted folding window glazing options offer varying degrees of glazing insulation. These glass alternatives can be custom-manufactured for folding window panels of any size and shape.

[edit] Energy Efficient Glazing Choices

The insulation efficiency of a window's glazing is judged by the rate at which it prevents the transference of heat and cold, allowing the home to maintain a comfortable temperature without using unnecessary amounts of energy. Homeowners can purchase replacement folding windows with a variety of glazing alternatives.

[edit] Multi-Pane Glazing

A folding window which is manufactured with multiple layers of glass will offer an increased level of energy efficiency by reducing heat loss while admitting solar gain. The expansive glass surface of a folding window makes energy efficient glazing an important addition to the replacement folding window. Double and triple-paned folding windows are factory-sealed into the sash of each folding window section to ensure stability. Some manufacturers add pumped-in argon or krypton gas which they insert into the gaps between the panes. This further increases the window's insulation capabilities. Triple-glazing has become a popular option for folding windows which are installed in extreme climates.

[edit] Low E Coating

Another significant insulating element for replacement folding windows is a low-emissivity (low-e) coating which the manufacturer coats on the glass in the factory to control the transfer of the sun's heat into the house. This metallic oxide coating is invisible but reduces energy loss by 30% - 50%.

[edit] Accessories

Accessories for replacement folding windows include screens, secure locks and opening handles along with optional grilles.

[edit] Screens

Window manufacturers will custom make screens for folding windows when the homeowner places an order. Placement of the screens is dependent on whether the windows open inward or outward, as the screen is placed on the opposite side of the window's opening. Clip-in screens allow the homeowner to easily remove the screen to wash the window.

[edit] Hardware

Brass and hard plastic knobs, handles and locks are available for replacement folding windows. Homeowners can select the shade and material that they wish to install.

[edit] Grilles

Window manufacturers can factory-install grilles within the individual sections of a multi-pane folding window or provide custom-sized clip-on grilles. Each grille clips onto a separate window section and can be easily removed when it's time to clean the window.

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