Need to Replace Sliding Glass Patio Doors

Old 08-15-06, 05:30 PM
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Need to Replace Sliding Glass Patio Doors

Our wood frame glass patio door is rotting out at the bottom. Hubby and I plan to replace it and want info as to our best option. We live in Iowa (cold and windy winters!!) and the door has a north exposure to the winter winds. We're looking at every option from the $400 budget doors to the $2400 high-end with triple glass and inside shades. We wouldn't mind paying the price (and the installation) if we know the end product will do a good job of sealing against the cold. We note that some sliders are on the outside with screen on the inside. Some have the screen on the outside and the slider on the inside. Some have that fuzzy felt type gaskets. Some have rubber. Different sales people tell us different things. Can you give us recommendation as to what is "a must" and and whether the high-end models actually are warmer? Thanks.
Old 08-15-06, 06:26 PM
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In your inclimate situation, you do need the best. You can spend the extra money on the triple glass with shades, or add shades as an after market product. You would probably be best served with a fixed door on one side and an inside slider with external screen.
My preference, however, is an inwardly opening side hinged french type door with 15 lites. The seal on a sliding door can only be so good, while the seal on a closing door is much better as you are squeezing it shut.
As far as quality doors, look at Pella, Andersen, JeldWen, or Peachtree. They are pricey, but have bells and whistles the lesser expensive models don't have.
Good luck with your choice and post back if we can help further.
Old 08-15-06, 07:07 PM
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I believe you should be concerned about 3 main factors:

1). Patio doors are largely glass. Since yours is on the north side, you won't be gaining any heat from sunlight, you'll mainly be losing heat out the glass in the winter. For that reason, you should choose a door with a high-performance glass package. Triple glass will likely be better than any double-glass configuration. Shades might be an option that could reflect heat back into the home (wintertime) rather than allow that radiant energy to exit freely. You'll want the best u-factor possible. (closest to zero- .22 is better than .29, for example.)

2). Your old doors rotted out. North facing doors do not get sunlight, which helps to dry out wet wood. Additionally, condensation (dew) often lasts longer on the north sides of buildings- combine that with no sunlight and you have moisture problems. You could consider a door that is not made of wood (fiberglass or vinyl), but don't throw wood out of the picture entirely. Many high quality wood doors are clad with aluminum on the exterior, and if you get a good quality door (like Pella's), the glazing will keep the underlying wood dry so that rot won't be a problem. Vinyl clad doors (like Anderson's) are OK, but I don't believe Anderson offers triple glass as an option like Pella does (double pane + storm sash)

3). The installer must be reputable. You can take the best door available... and if it is not installed well, you would not be happy with the results. That's one of the reasons this site is so popular- people like to DIY because often, "if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself!" But regardless of whether you do it yourself or have a contractor install it, you need to ascertain that the installer will do a good job. Asking questions such as... what will prevent air infiltration around the nailing fin? Will help you to find out what their standard practices are. In rural areas like Nebraska/Iowa, it seems like contractors are pretty consciencious about doing a good job... especially since we know what it is like to feel cold air coming around trim come January. But you still need to do your homework and get someone with a good reputation to do the install.

One other thing regarding the screens... Pella's screens on their sliders are often on the inside, while their french doors often have a hinged screen on the outside. One nice feature they have is an interior roll-up screen that stores in the center of the door. Some people don't use their screen all that much, so storing it out of the way makes sense. Those few days of the year where the weather is perfect are the days it gets used. There's nothing worse than a baggy screen with holes in it from grasshoppers, claw marks from the cats and dogs, and the occasional streak from a hailstorm. Having the screen inside helps avoid some of that, and the roll-up screen keeps the screen protected when it's not in use. (can you tell I think it's great??) LOL

Hope some of this helps. When I started out I was trying to keep it simple! I tend to get carried away with my replies sometimes.

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