Sliding glass door replacement
February 22, 2017 6:16 AM   Subscribe

I want to replace a shabby patio door that is old, cold-air leaky, and has a margin around it that blocks light (like a six inch frame around the glass). It only opens on one side, via a hinge, so the door swings into the room. I want to replace it with a nicer door that slides rather than swings, has a smaller 'frame' around it so it lets in more light, is well-insulated, and comes with (?) a screen door.

So my questions are:

1) Brand/item recommendations?
2) Should I just go to Home Depot and have one of their contractors do it, or should I go to a local hardware place (who installed a storm door for us previously). Is that paying boutique in a dumb way?
3) Cost of the thing?
4) Cost of the installation?
5) Can someone do this in a day? The area around it is somewhat mangy and may need framing/flashing added to or replaced.

I know it's hard to ball park this sight unseen. I've looked into this a little before at the local store and came away with a vague idea of 'all told, six grand-ish'. (In the northeast) for a high quality door and carpentry that requires a little rehab.

Purely bonus other category door/window questions since we're all here:

-Brand question re windows: I really don't like the white look of modern windows and I feel like I see them anywhere. Is it possible to 'rehab' builders' quality windows to make them....better? (my main objection is the air leaks that we resolve with various types of weather stripping which is a pain.) Brand recommendations?

-Brand question re doors: storm doors, screen doors, 'front' doors--who makes good ones? Good as measured primarily by being successful at being a door i.e. keeping cold and zombies out, designs that are simple, modern and allow in light. We have a good quality screen/storm door on the front entrance, which lets in a lot of nice light, but is so heavy and intent on closing it literally frightens people--we have tried everything as far as adjusting it.) We'd like our back entrance (separate from the sliding glass door) to be less aggressive.
posted by A Terrible Llama to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Potentially helpful: Working Windows by Terry Meany

Not all new windows are entirely white -- just the cheap ones. Wood windows with vinyl or aluminum exterior cladding are available from many sources.

For your current storm door, if the adjustment screw on the closer doesn't do what it's supposed to, you can just replace the closer; no need to replace the whole door.
posted by jon1270 at 6:32 AM on February 22, 2017

How big is it? That's needed to help folks determine order of magnitude. We had a 96" x 96" sliding glass door with a screen and six windows installed in our porch for about $4,000, that included a new threshold, framing and trim work outside and inside. $6K for just a slider seems pretty high.
posted by fixedgear at 7:20 AM on February 22, 2017

Response by poster: How big is it?

Two panels, not sure about the exact measurement (I'm not at home) but more on the modest end of the sliding glass door spectrum -- not huge, just kind of ordinary.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:30 AM on February 22, 2017

Best answer: Mostly because of the weight of the unit and the likelihood that your existing framing needs some rehabilitation - I'd suggest finding a contractor you can work with and trust to do it. There are many options for high quality doors that will do what you want and look beautiful. The high end would be wood with aluminum clad exterior. All pultruded fiberglass can look good and will give you the best energy performance. Anything is likely to be an upgrade. It's hard to speculate on budgets, but I'd bet you can do it for a third or half of that initial high end quote, depending on the materials you select. Also, someone good with hardware may be able to fix that aggressive front screen door for less than you expect - ask them to look and quote it while they are there.
posted by meinvt at 7:55 AM on February 22, 2017

Oh, and I'd expect this is a half day job. Unless the rot in the surrounding framing is enough more than expected to require an extra trip for supplies. Make sure your contractor takes away and disposes of the old door and any scrap as well.
posted by meinvt at 7:57 AM on February 22, 2017

I have the exact patio door you are looking for in my kitchen. It's by Pella, but it's their lower-cost line. Double-pane insulated glass. Heavy vinyl clad exterior, wood interior. It includes an integrated sliding screen door. Great door.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:56 AM on February 22, 2017

Response by poster: For future generations of clueless door-replacing explorers:

On the advice of the contractor I found via recommendations from our local building-materials-supplier, I wound up going with Marvin/Integrity on the sliding glass door, including the screen, a Therma Tru on a back entrance door, and a Larson storm door to go with the Therma Tru all in modern-suburbanite rubbed bronze with a lever handle on the storm door (love those b/c you can open them with a well-placed elbow when your hands are full).

The dude is also going to knock down the pointless ground-level deck railing, replace a weird-ass gutter section/downspout over the door with one that has the capacity to actually handle the run-off that occurs from the garage (it's a narrow two-foot long gutter tasked with handling the rain run off from the entire garage) for 6K all told, including replacement of the cruddy/rotting wood in both areas, in part caused by the overworked gutter. He's handling buying and sourcing.

So I have no idea if that's good or not but I feel pretty good about it considering I went it to it with 'for the love of God, just replace the sliding glass door for 6k.'

Thanks for the reality checks, and Jon1270, I'm going to order that book--it's on Amazon via used and I would like to be better informed and it looks really good.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:03 PM on April 25, 2017

Response by poster: I should add: "I got a good vibe from the guy. He seemed thoughtful and competent." which I think is a key lesson--for me at least--from above, 'find someone you can work with and trust'.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:05 PM on April 25, 2017

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