A door without a handle is a sad thing indeed. Leaving to one side the obvious functional problems with such a device (especially when you’re on the ‘pull’ side), handles add a much-needed visual accent that’ll make the difference to your interior.
In the case of internal bifolding doors, which can only sensibly be opened by pulling, installing the right handle is especially important. With handles being such serious business, let’s treat them to the attention they deserve. In this article, we’ll discuss what we should look for in a handle, and see how you might attach your choice to your door to create something that’ll do your home justice – both functionally and aesthetically.
You might imagine installing a handle to be quite straightforward and for the most part, you’d be right. But, as with everything involving a little DIY, a little bit of preparation can make a lot of difference to the result. Since you won’t be able to undo any changes you make to your door, being sure that you know what you’re doing is vital.
So, before we even consider breaking out the drill and installing our handles, we’ll need an idea of exactly where they’re supposed to go. This isn’t quite as obvious as it might seem. While handles can be placed just about anywhere you’d like, you’ll need to think about how they’re going to function – specifically how much leverage you’re going to be able to exert from them. An improperly-placed handle will place undue stress on the door, making it more difficult to open and close, and causing it to wear down and break prematurely.
Generally speaking, the handle should go in the horizontal centre of the middle two doors. This will help to spread the force of each pull across the top and bottom of the door, thus minimising pressure on the tracking system. Place the handle too far to the left or right, and you’ll up the squeeze on the guide pins, which can eventually lead to the doors grinding away at the tracks every time they’re opened or closed.
If you’re unhappy with placing the handle in the centre, then you might choose to put it elsewhere. Be sure, however, not to place it on the panel furthest to the side (the one that’s attached to the frame). You won't be able to achieve anywhere near the same pulling power. While this might seem like an obvious point, it’s one that’s worth re-enforcing; with so much to think about, a surprising number of people get this wrong and are left with awkward, costly doors that don’t function as they should.
Now that we’ve established where we’re going to be placing our handles, let’s take a look at how we might approach the task. First, you’ll want to set aside enough time to get the job done properly. Fortunately, this isn’t a tough ask; it should take no longer than ten minutes if you’re efficient and thorough. Leave aside half-an-hour, and you’ll have plenty of time to be careful.
Next, you’ll want to bring together a few choice items:
Measure thirty-six inches from the floor on each of your leading doors, and mark it with a pencil on both sides. You’re going to be drilling all the way through. Thread your handle though, and you’re just about done – all that’s left is to screw any surrounding hardware into place.
As we shall see, interior handles tend to be simpler than their external counterparts, and so a lot of extras will rarely be required. If you’re putting something a little more elaborate into place, then you might need to install a handle backset, which will keep the whole assembly secure. Consider this complication before you make your purchase!
Now that we know exactly where and how to install the handles, we’re left with an altogether more exciting prospect – choosing a handle. When it comes to your bifold door handles, you’ll have a sizeable list of options to choose from. Each offers a slightly different look to your door, but perhaps more significantly, they each operate in a slightly different way. Let’s take a look.
A lever handle is a device with which we’re all familiar. You grab the handle and pull it down; the bolt retracts, and the door becomes openable. They’re a popular choice for standard doors, but they’re not quite so necessary in interior bi-fold doors, as there’s no need for a bolt. With that said, they offer a classic look that makes them a popular choice.
A flat handle is a slightly different spin on the lever handle. Like the other device, it works via a rotating handle. But this handle tends to be flatter, and thus it’ll allow the door to more easily stack when the door has been fully collapsed. As such, you often find flat handles working alongside traditional lever-style handles on opposite sides of the same door.
A pull handle is an immobile bar, attached to the frame at both ends. They’re very simple, and there to offer purchase to the person opening the door. You normally find them on fridges and kitchen cupboards, and so you might be able to create a little extra consistency in your kitchen by installing them onto an adjoining folding door. This simplicity tends to work out nicely from a cost and maintenance perspective – without any moving parts, there’s nothing to go wrong!
We’re all familiar with the door-knob. They’re among the simplest styles of handle, and make a great choice for folding doors of all sorts – especially since, in this instance, you don’t need to worry about twisting them.
Though there are practical differences between what’s available, the biggest differences are aesthetic. Pick the handle that you think looks best – and you’ll probably be able to find a way to make it work with your interior.
Handles, of course, aren’t the only sorts of hardware you’ll find included in your door – and there’s considerable variation even among handles of the same sort. Let’s run through a few of the other pieces of hardware you’ll need.
You’ll want a dead-bolt for the door which locks the entire contraption into place. You might also wish to include a keyed lock, particularly if you’d like to restrict access to certain parts of the home – just be sure that you don’t arrange things in such a way that it’s possible to get locked in! While security isn’t quite such a pressing concern on interior doors as it is exterior ones, it’s worth thinking about if you’ve got small children in the house.
Door handles, hinges and bolts come in a range of sizes. The differences between them are largely a matter of personal taste, but we should consider the tactile qualities of your handle, particularly if you’re going to spend a lot of time opening and closing your doors.
Of course, the shape of your handle is just one thing to factor into your consideration. You’ll also need to bear in mind things like colour and material – and door handles, bolts and hinges come in several different sorts. These attributes all tend to interact with one another – you’ll probably find that knobs are more likely to be made of wood, and pull-handles of metal.
So, which is best? Again, it’s a matter of personal taste. Contrast the hardware with the surrounding wood for a reliably gorgeous effect. Brass is a classic accompaniment for darker shades, while iron often sits nicely with lighter ones. As such, your choice of hardware will be influenced considerably by your choice of door, which will, in turn, be influenced by your choice of décor in the surrounding room. Naturally, it’s wise to think about this sort of thing before investing in the door itself – as it might be costly and time-consuming to change your mind later on.
The right set of handles can make all the difference to your chosen set of bifold doors, in much the same way that the right set of bifold doors can make all the difference to your interior. Follow our advice, and think carefully about your choice before breaking out the drill. Approach the task with a little bit of care and preparation, and you’ll end up with hardware that’ll make ever visitor mad with jealousy!