Bifold doors are a great design choice and can improve any room if you have the space for them. What can make bifold doors tricky is their length, which tends to remove a considerable amount of your wall. Now the question is, do you need to have a steel beam over your bifold doors to make up for these removed parts?
In most cases, you would need to install a steel beam over bifold doors, especially if the doors will be located at a corner of a room, or on an exterior wall. Bifold doors take away a sizable chunk of your wall, entailing that there will be less “wall” to carry your upper floors.
All these talks about loads and structural design may sound complicated, but the basic principles are pretty simple. If you have a load that needs to be carried in any building, you have to find a way to make sure that it holds up by transferring that load to the ground. In this case, we’re concerned with how your upper floor will be able to remain intact without a wall underneath to support it.
Do I Need a Steel Beam for My Bifold Doors?
There are some scenarios where you won’t need a steel beam installed for your bifold door. The main thing that you should be concerned with is what the wall you want to install doors on is holding up.
If the wall does not play a significant role in your home’s structure, such as a partition wall, then there’s a chance that you can skip the step of having to install a steel beam.
NOTE: If you happen to have a glass-partition wall, which is not load-bearing at all, then you can simply replace your glass wall with a bifold door since the lack of a load-bearing component has already been accounted for in that section of your house.
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If you plan on placing a bifold door along a stud wall on a non-load-bearing wall, then it is possible just to have a hole cut through it and have your door installed without having to install a steel beam.
Lastly, if you’re installing bifold doors for a closet then it should be perfectly fine for you to do so without consulting any professionals. Just make sure to get doors that would fit into your closet openings and that position everything properly.
Regardless, it’s best to remain cautious and to guarantee that you won’t be affecting your home’s structural integrity. That is why it’s best to consult first with a contractor and a structural engineer so that they can inspect
What Do You Need Before Installing Bifold Doors?
Bifold doors often require consultation with a structural engineer when adding them to your home. The average door frame is around 3 feet wide, while a typical bifold door is approximately 9 feet wide.
If you think about it, that’s 9 feet of wall gone, which is why a structural engineer is needed to make sure that your upper floors won’t collapse without that 9 feet of the wall underneath it.
This is where a steel beam comes in. Beams are primarily there to handle tension forces. A tension force can be described as a “pulling force” that transmits to your columns or load-bearing walls. The columns and walls then transfer these forces down to your foundation and then finally to the ground.
NOTE: If your architect or engineer did not initially design your home to have a bifold door, you’d need to implement several changes that require quite a bit of construction work to get done for your house to have a bifold door installed.
The price for purchasing and having a bifold door installed will cost a few thousand dollars. We can’t give you a good range for pricing since many factors come into play for this type of project.
Whether that be in the kind of doors you choose, the labor costs in your area, the work needed to install the bifold door, etc. In any case, just be ready to shell out a hefty amount of cash for this type of project.
How Are Steel Beams Installed for Bifold Doors?
This might seem like an intimidating part of this project since we’re dealing with structurals now, but it’s not that difficult to have steel beams fitted for your bifold door frame. Here’s a basic overview of how installing a steel beam goes like:
1. Clearing the Wall
The workers will carefully take apart your wall; this is a necessary step for installing bifold doors. Walls are often removed part by part, so they’re not going to be smashing into your wall but instead removing it layer by layer.
Once the wall is cleared, workers use shoring to hold up your upper floors while the project continues. Shoring uses temporary structural supports, such as adjustable steel bars to hold up part of a building during construction.
2. Attaching the Steel Beams
A steel beam is then placed across the other walls’ ends and onto the padstone, distributing the load to the rest of your other walls. You can imagine it like two chairs having a plank laid across each other.
Now that the beam is positioned correctly and is attached to both pad stones and the ceiling, the workers will add more shoring to keep the beam in place and start fastening it to the other parts of your home.
3. Covering Up
We now have the beam in place and attached to your building, and now the workers can begin covering up the beam and rebuilding up your wall along with the space needed for your bifold doors.
For this part of the project, you can expect that you won’t be able to use the spaces in your immediate area for the time being.
NOTE: With any renovation project, it’s best to think ahead and already prepare for an unusable room for the time being. Workers will also need some space to keep to work with, whether that’s space for maintaining the materials on-site or just workspace in general.
It’s essential to make sure that you always maintain the structural integrity of your house.
Bifold doors take quite a lot from your wall, and this is why you may need a steel beam installed.
Depending on a structural engineer’s assessment, there are some scenarios wherein you might not need a lintel installed.