buying used french doors--good or bad idea?

My wife and I are looking to replace our old aluminum sliding patio doors (currently four panels, abut 12 feet across) with wooden french doors. They are hugely expensive new, but we see people on Craigsist who are remodeling selling their used doors. We've had one installer tell us that used doors are a terrible idea, that they will never, ever fit right, and we've had others tell us it can be done. Now we're totally confused. We live in Los Angeles so we don't need the kind of energy efficiency or weather seal that cold climate homes do, but on the other hand I also don't want drafty, sticking, leaky or warped doors, either.
What's the verdict here?
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You can tell if they are warped by brining a 4-6 foot level with you. If these are used door that have been around for years and they are not warped you are taking far less of a chance than purchasing a new door that could be of questionable quality depending on the brand.
If keeping out the cold or extreme heat are not an issue you only care about bugs, security, and the fit. If the door has not warped after years of use it is doubtful it is going to warp now.

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toecheese wrote:

No reason that used doors can't be used and properly fitted but it goes without saying that they need to be the correct size - or slightly larger - to begin with. Keep in mind the fact that you will need space for them to swing. You'll probably want cane bolts too. Also, you can pretty much forget about using screen doors with them.
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dadiOH
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??
I have outward-swinging storm doors with the french doors I have. In the summer, the screens go in, and function-wise, they're screen doors.
Banty
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Ask the guys that say it can be done for references to jobs where they did it. Then go talk to the customers and see the results.
I'd say it can be done, provided the doors were in good shape and were carefully removed, as opposed to just taking them out as quickly as possible, which is the usual case. But, it would have to be a very good deal on doors that were just what you want for it to be worth the risk. The obvious problem becomes if you have problems after they are in, then what? If it's not easily solvable, you get into the contractor saying it's the doors, not his work.
If you go that route, I'd make sure the contractor you choose goes to look at the doors, which have already been removed, and gives his OK.
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Banty wrote:

So the French doors swing in I assume? Regardless, whether or not you can use screen/storm doors with French doors depends muchly on the thickness of the door casing. With the casing on a normal 2x4 wall the projection of the center muntin between the door pair and/or knob on the French door precludes accessory doors. IME, YMMV.
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I've seen retractable screens for use with french doors--they scroll out from the side like a horizontal window blind.
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Bring a long level with you to see if they are warped. Take note as to the finish as it will be a lot of work to strip and refinish them. Door installations in existing openings can be tricky. It is very important to get an installer who is good with doors. You want them to swing smoothly and not bind.
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All the above, and, don't forget that if it is double pane glass there might be some air leaks. Any one of the small panes could have a leak which will only show up under certain atmospheric conditions and therefore not noticeable at time of purchase. Nothing more frustrating than to look at you doors and have one or several panes totally clouded over. Buy carefully!!
Ivan Vegvary
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toecheese wrote:

If it is the right size for your installation, then there is no reason why used doors would not work for you. They must be the right size for your opening and in good condition (i.e. not warped). The installation will be the determining factor on whether they work for you or not. A door is a door. Keep in mind that patio doors are shorter than standard door sizes, so you usually need a specially sized french door to replace a patio door, unless you can either; enlarge your opening, or shorten the door and frame.
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Robert Allison
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