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What is the correct location for the pulls
on my bifolding doors?
I've seen the pull (or knob) on a bifold door set located in five different locations, but aesthetics aside there is only one ideal placement in my opinion. I have repaired at least a hundred broken bifolding doors over the years, and most of them were caused by poor door pull placement. (The second biggest cause of breakage, if you're interested, is the bottom of the doors rubbing on carpet.)
I'm talking mechanics here, not the feng shui of door pulls! My wife, of course, has a different opinion on the "perfect" location, so I will give you a second option that some people prefer and that works almost as well.
The ideal door pull position is in the horizontal center of the leading door(s)...
The "ideal" position is with the pulls located in the horizontal center of the leading door(s). This is a compromise between smooth opening and smooth closing, keeping friction at a minimum to avoid excessive pressure on the track guide pins (see picture above). If the pulls are in the wrong location, the unusual force on the guide pins can over time lead to door breakage at the somewhat fragile top corner of each door.
Second best position (my wife's favorite)...
The second best position is to locate the pull or knob near to the hinge-edge of the leading door:
In this position, opening the door is very easy, but closing may be a little more difficult on older, worn doors. However, replacing the hardware or even lubrication of the track can often solve problems with this door pull location. My wife didn't particularly like having the pulls in the center of the leading doors... hence this loving compromise.
Other options and why they don't work as well!
The design of a bifolding door set presents a conundrum. Certain door pull positions are ideal for opening the doors and certain positions are ideal for closing the door. But there is no position that is perfect for both. The two examples above are the best compromises. Below are some examples of very bad choices. If you are having problems with your bifolding doors not working easily (and you have made sure they are well-lubricated and none of the hardware is broken), consider changing the positions of the door pulls if any of the below scenarios are yours!!
Don't place the pull near the outside edge of the leading door (vertically under the guide pins): Very easy to close the door, but gives you no leverage to open the door, since it is too far from the hinge to allow the doors to fold Thus, you have to twist and pull on the knob to get the door to open, or even reach up to the top of the door at the hinge-side and pull it out a bit.
Don't place the pull on the hinge edge of the following door: Makes opening the doors easy, but it is even more difficult to close them since there will be extra friction on the guide pins that can lead to breakage.
Don't place the door pull in the center of the following door: Similar problems to placing the pull on the hinge-edge of the following door... only about a hundred times worse! I worked at a large condominium complex that had hundreds of doors with this pull location. Shame shame!
Don't place the door pull on the pivot-side of the following door: Unthinkable!
Hope this helps you get the best use and life from your bifolds!!