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Replacing a sliding glass door
Old 06-07-2011, 11:55 AM   #1
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Replacing a sliding glass door

In 1987 we had a sliding glass door installed in our kitchen breakfast room. It was a wall with a window and we had a carpenter enlarge the opening and install our door. Later we built a deck and this has been lovely.

The door faces south so I was concerned about the sun and we bought a beautiful Pella wood door with mini blinds installed between the panes of glass. I don't remember if Low-E glass was available at the time. This door doesn't have Low-E glass but we were pleased with the mini blinds. They rotate but do not raise up and down.

Now the door is 24 years old and even though we replaced all the weatherstripping and foam strips last year we need to replace it. We found wood rot at the bottom of the moving panel and the aluminum cladding on the exterior is de-laminating.

Also, last fall we replaced all the metal single pane windows in the house with vinyl double pane windows with Low-E glass. The difference with the Low-E glass is amazing and now that we have good windows I realize how bad the door is. The heat through the glass is very evident, even with the mini blinds closed. In the winter we had air leakage in the center where the 2 doors meet.

Last night we went to Lowe's to check out what they carry. They have Pella in wood and vinyl and there is a huge price difference. We are very pleased with our vinyl windows but wonder how that translates to an opening as large as a sliding glass door.

Also, I wanted to get Low-E glass and mini-blinds or shades again and these options are not compatible. This is due to the blinds or shades rubbing on the Low-E coating. You can get one or the other, but not both. There was one special order option where you could do both on a beefier vinyl door because it's got a larger gap between the panes. This was 3 times the price of the standard vinyl door.

We also looked at wood doors. Definitely a good option but the prices were very high. Again, it's either/or on the Low-E vs. blinds or shades unless you do a additional add-on 3rd pane with blind or shade between. That was way out of our price range.

So I'm looking for comments about wood vs. vinyl in a sliding glass door. We know the wood door is gorgeous and feels very sturdy, but they can rot and the cladding can come loose. The vinyl is so much less expensive but will it be sturdy enough?

I'm willing to forgo the blinds or shades to get the Low-E, I think it makes a big difference. And then I'll have to deal with some sort of window treatment which I didn't want to do. I don't want draperies in a kitchen and there's not much room for something to stack to the side when open. Not crazy about vertical blinds. This door looks out over the 20 ft deck and then the neighbors yard but it's the side of their house without a window. Not sure I'd be happy without any window treatment but I guess we could try.

What kind of window treatment do you have on a sliding patio door? And what are your experiences with a vinyl sliding door?

We live in north east Ohio and have hot, humid summers and bitter cold stormy winters. Full 4 seasons here. I'm always trying to be economical but when it comes to the house we like to do things right. We've been here since 1983 and plan to stay another 20 years or so.
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Old 06-07-2011, 12:48 PM   #2
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SueJ ~

We had similar issues but were replacing a 45 year old door that we think was made by Pella with glass on the top half and the lower half was wood....the entire door was wood both inside and out...painted out and stained to match the room inside.

To our surprise we could not find anything like we had and I was ready to patch it up and keep using it....then while cruising Craigslist one day I spotted a builder's ad where he was selling 6 doors that had been shipped to him but were the wrong size for his client. These were full glass doors with the wood grills....very colonial. DW liked and so we took a look.

To make a long story short ~ the door was perfect and the discounted price helped us to decide that it was exactly what we needed...this door is wood on the inside but metal and vinyl on the outside...I have stained the interior to match the room again and now the outside is maintenance free and goes very well with the new Trex deck that we added last year.

Technically ~ Andersen 400 series Frenchwood Gliding Patio Door with low-E glass.

With having never had the full glass, we were amazed at the additional light added (by having a full glass door) to an already dark room and while we were concerned (at first) with the privacy issue, the door faces a lake, and we did not even replace the wood blinds and have not missed them at all.

While it has only been 6 months, we are very happy with the door....the sound of the air tight seal every time you open or close the door just confirms that we did the right thing.
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Old 06-07-2011, 01:55 PM   #3
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I live in SE Michigan, so I have the same type of year-round weather that you get in NE Ohio.

I have a 9' door wall (aka sliding glass door, in 3 panels). The original one was aluminum-framed and the previous owners added yet ANOTHER aluminum-framed one, just to try to reduce the heat and A/C loss.

About 5-6 years ago I replaced the whole shebang with a single vinyl unit (made by a local company) and have been very pleased with it. It's plain double-paned glass.

I'm not big into window-treatments per se. About 15 years ago I installed a honeycomb style Hunter-Douglas shade that has far exceeded my expectations, as this is full southern (sun) exposure which usually destroys most everything in a few years' time. I also like that when in the raised position, the folded shade about 3 inches high -- so it doesn't provide a lot of visual distraction. And when it's lowered, it sure adds to the 'insulation' of that area.

Over the years, I did have a couple of of the internal 'ribbons' that raise/lower the shade fail due to the prolonged heavy sun exposure. Under their lifetime warranty, Hunter Douglas sent me free replacements, along with an installation tool and instruction sheet.

I'm pleased with the vinyl: low/no maintenance, good value for the money, and still looks brand new.

omni
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Old 06-07-2011, 03:21 PM   #4
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Low E glass has been around since 1979-80. My 1st install was the Andersen wood/vinyl ext. clad frenchwood slider w/Low E in 1991. I just had to replace it last year with an American Craftsman vinyl unit (an Andersen company) that's sold at Home Depot. The vinyl unit has Low E glass too, but comparing the two, you can tell the quality is better on the Andersen wood unit. Since you already have vinyl windows, getting a vinyl slider wouldn't detract from the look your house already has. The only difference is cost, the Andersen wood is about $1700+ when you add in all the options vs. $400 for the vinyl equivalent. The only thing I can tell you is to double check your openings, all slider rough openings are not the same! Nothing like having to retrofit the wrong header height, short by 1/2", when you have a gaping hole in your house. The so called door/window specialists don't really have a clue. Sliding doors normally only last 15-20 yrs, it helps if you have a big overhang to keep it away from the wet weather. By the way, this is in Chicago, never had any issues with the vinyl cladding coming off the door. Most slider issues are around the bottom track corners due to poor support or lack of maintenance/upkeep to caulking and cleaning. If the cladding came off the door, that sounds like a warranty defect.

I've never bought Pella, but I've heard the in between blinds can't be fixed if they ever break on you. Don't know if they ever resolved that problem. We went naked on our door, but considered wood rods/curtains and vertical blinds to cover it up.
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Old 06-10-2011, 09:00 AM   #5
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Thanks for the comments. Since I posted we also went to Home Depot and got quotes on the American Craftsman, Andersen Permashield, Masterpiece, and a Jeld-Wyn. So far we're leaning toward the American Craftsman and the Masterpiece. The American Craftsman was well built but at a much lower price then the Andersen. The Masterpiece is new at Home Depot. It's a composite vinyl, lifetime warranty and Home Depot carries only one model but it's the "French" style that I like - wider vinyl, less glass. That's the style we have now and I like the look. http://www.masterpiecepatiodoor.com/...gliding_02.jpg

We have a Pella store nearby so we want to go check that out as they will have a bigger selection than Lowes.

We're learning a lot. For me it's mostly what I want to compromise on vs what we are willing to spend. Last time (1987) I got exactly what I wanted and I remember it being costly. I don't think it was a special order but the cost included opening the wall to change from a window to a door. We were a young family and DH had a good paying job and job security.

This time DH is a new early retiree and I have a part time job as a crossing guard. Month to month we get by just fine but our perspective on the large expenses has changed.

If we go with all vinyl and avoid any custom orders this should be a lot less than last time. I'd like to use Lowes or Home Depot because they offer installation starting at $349. There's no way we could install this ourselves.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:25 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Sue J View Post
I'd like to use Lowes or Home Depot because they offer installation starting at $349. There's no way we could install this ourselves.
I would recommend checking with an independent window/door installer or carpenter if you can, as I found a local installation company that was very comparable and have less overhead in their estimates. I had decided to check out Home Depot installers, even though I had done this installation before. What I found was any, and I mean any slight adjustment added to the basic install cost. They make you pay a small fee ($30) to do the estimate, which you get back if you use their installer. In my case, it took almost a month, 3 separate visits and multiple calls to the Home Depot, they resisted on getting me a quote after the estimator came out. It was just cutting back 3 ft x 1"-2" of my flooring that affected the quote and I told them I was doing this work, not them. So they decided to add on an extra charge of $60 minimum for work I was going to do before they got there! They also wanted to change the brickmould to 5/4" x 6" cedar decking which made no sense at all and wanted to charge extra for this too, even though the exterior wood is painted all white. They claimed this was the only wood that would fit and if I wanted brickmould it would be a custom charge by the hour to cut it. If I wanted it white, I would have to pay extra to have it painted or do it myself. My estimated cost ended up well over $650. After this headache, I decided it wasn't worth it for me to use them and installed it myself.
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:26 PM   #7
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We checked out the Pella store. Beautiful showroom with displays showing all the bells and whistles. Interestingly, they had no vinyl doors on display, only vinyl windows.

Getting "everything I want" was close to $4500. That helps me decide that I can get by with much less than everything. We also got an estimate for other configurations for $1900-$3000.

In the end we decided to go with the American Craftsman vinyl door from Home Depot. We had the measurement done and the only add-on was the aluminum trim. Oh yeah, the DELIVERY is $60! Too bad we don't have our pick-up truck anymore. They also wanted $40 for haul away of the old door but I called our city sanitation dept. and they will pick it up for free.

We opted for the "prairie style" grids between the glass, an upgrade in the LowE with Argon and an upgrade of the "Design Pressure Enhancement" which is a beefier structure for wind resistance. DH wanted a better handle and we also added a screen.

When we went back in to Home Depot to submit the final order all their special orders were 15% off! Yay for discounts! Also, I looked at the price sheet on the display and on the price sheet it said that the design pressure enhancement and screen were standard - no extra cost. So the cost of the screen and design pressure enhancement were subtracted from our total cost saving about $50.

Final price comes to $1217 including the delivery and installation. We were aiming for keeping this around $1200 so that's good enough. Also, I paid for this with my Chase card that had a promo going for 5% reward points for Home Improvement stores that was good through 6/30/11. That's another $60 added to the $241 I already have in reward points on that card. The $300 reward points can be used to "pay yourself back" by applying it to a purchase within 60 days.

We should hear from them within a few weeks. I'll post some before and after pics.
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Update - Installation compete
Old 07-29-2011, 11:35 AM   #8
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Update - Installation compete

Our new door was installed on Wednesday and we are very pleased with our choice.

The installation went well, the toughest part for them seemed to be removing the old door. The new one was such a close fit that they did not need to do the aluminum capping and we will be refunded the $79 charge for that.

I called our city sanitation dept. for the haul away. DH put it all out front last night for this morning's pickup but by the time we went to bed last night the local scrappers (folks in pickup trucks who look for free stuff the night before trash day) had already taken both door sections, leaving only the screen and trim parts.

Having so much more glass than the old French style and not having any blinds in the way feel like going from an old 19" Standard Def TV to a 32" High Def TV.

I've attached some before and after pictures. The screen on the new one is on the outside, on the old one it was on the inside. The lighting isn't the same but you get the idea. The old door is the "French door" style, the new one is the one with the "prairie style" grids.
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Old 07-29-2011, 02:17 PM   #9
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Our new door was installed on Wednesday and we are very pleased with our choice.
I've attached some before and after pictures.
Thanks for the update!

In a few months we're buying a replacement for our 20-year-old lanai door. The new one will hopefully be a lot easier to drop out of the frame for cleaning & adjusting...
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