Sliders UK’s Steve Mines reviews the cost of bi-fold door installation and finds out that it’s not always the money maker it may first appear.
Annual sales of aluminium bi-fold doors are forecast to top 35,000 by 2020. Growth of around 50 per cent on the market in 2016 in only four years, illustrating the impact bi-folds have had on window and door supply in only a very short period of time.
This doesn’t, however, mean that they’re always high margin. There’s no question about the market reach of aluminium bi-fold doors but they don’t always deliver on margin. They can be very unforgiving in installation. A few call backs and your margin is gone.
Sliders UK launched its Technical Support Service in 2016. Our three-man team have all either worked as fabricators or fitters, in addition going through an extensive product-specific training programme.
We also offers an assisted fit programme. This includes field support from the Sliders UK technical team, who will go out with fitting teams, the first time they carry-out a new product installation, taking them through product characteristics and fast-tracking learning.
It accelerates the process. Fit a product a couple of times and you know it but when you start out for the first time, there’s a learning curve for anyone. This speeds up the process and avoids the costs associated with call backs.
A lot of our customers see real value in it because time in call-backs can quickly make a job unprofitable. But they also see value in having that technical support there in general at the end of the phone or out on site, when and if it’s required. If your fitting team is learning by trial and error, it can cost time and money on every installation.
Common bifold installation errors:
- Not using enough or too many packers to level under the cill properly
- No hinge locking screws – make sure locking screws are in place before the glazing goes in!
- Lubrication – make sure anti-friction sprays are applied to rollers, hinges and gaskets after installation
- Not enough fixings/packers used in establishing fix to walls,leading to movement/out of square
- Toe & Heeling errors – always start at the bottom of the hinge side of the door, pack it square and then toe and heel to the opposite corner
- Cutting gaskets too short – allow additional length for expansion and contraction
If you’re just a mm out along the length of a six-panel door, you’re significantly out by the end of it and if you’re not square it’s going to be a problem.
We launched the Ultimate Evolution aluminium bi-fold door to address exactly this issue. It features a number of ‘neat’ benefits for installers – most notably a fully adjustable jamb option, which simplifies installation -cutting installation time down to as little as 45-minutes.
It draws on innovation in hardware, combining a ultra-smooth bottom running system with impressively slim sightlines – even compared to other aluminium systems.
This may give it end-user appeal, but it’s an innovative fully adjustable jamb option which dramatically simplifies door squaring and setting and increases tolerances, which is perhaps the biggest single innovation.
9 times out of 10, when our technical team go out issues are caused because doors haven’t been installed square. Everything we do is built in a jig, its fully tested and filmed as part of our quality control procedures so we know it works.
Over-packing, under-packing against walls – it all contributes to putting the door out of square. The adjustable jamb option simplifies installation – it’s forgiving offering 8mm of tolerance on either side of the door! And that saves time on site and time lost in call backs”, argues Mines.
The Ultimate Evolution is available in multiple panel configurations including open-in or open-out, with a maximum sash height and width of 3000mm x 1200mm. With colour-matched handles and magnetic door holders, a low threshold option and 30mm polyamide thermal break for increased thermal values, it is also fully tested to PAS 24 and BS6375 Part 1 Weather Testing.
Bi-folds represent a massive growth opportunity but like everything they have to be fitter right or you’re going to get call backs and that chips away at margin. We’re working with our customers to maximize margin through effective installation, through a combination of technical support and product innovation.
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