retrofit patio door question

I live in northern California and am planning to replace a set of old single pane almunium patio doors with double-pane vinyl ones.
Option 1 is to go for the installation type that keeps the top, left and right frames and only replaces the bottom frame. The advantage is that there is almost no chance of leakage etc. The disadvantage is that I will lose glass most likely by 2" on left and right and maybe 3" from the top.
Option 2 is to go for the installation type that will remove all the frames but will not damage stucco. On the outside they will cut about an inch of stucco to take out the present frames and after installing the new ones will seal the gap with polyurethine sealant and then place wooden flanges on top of it. The advantage is no loss of glass and hence keep the original opening. The disadvantage is that this option opens the possibility of leakage (since the original flashing paper will be surely torn in places when the old frame is taken out) if the installer does not properly put flashing paper etc and hence this may lead to dry rot at some point in the future if indeed there is leakage.
Are there any opinions on which option is 'better' so to speak? About 50% of the contractors I have spoken to recommend Option 2 and the rest Option 1. I am currently unable to decide and can definitely use some sort of guidance. Note that I am not considering the price factor here - the cost of both the options are comparable.
Note that I am not going for new installation that will need the stucco to be removed at least 9" and re-stucco it and paint it etc.
Thanks for any pointers on this.
Sen
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It's not a black and white question. A good contractor can make either process work, and a bad one will mess up either one.
Technically, if you're talking about cement stucco and not EIFS (acrylic stucco on foam insulation), the best way to approach it is to not cut through the stucco at all. What I mean by that is that the wire mesh in the stucco is not cut. It's a bit more time-consuming and it takes a more delicate touch during the demolition, but it's a better way to go. The idea is to use a diamond blade in a circular saw to score the outline of the stucco to be removed. Set the blade depth so you just score the stucco - don't cut the wire mesh! Then use a hammer drill in hammer-only mode with a chisel point to start chipping out the stucco. The vibration will break the stucco but not the mesh. Again, it's a delicate touch so you don't damage the wire mesh and building paper. Clear out the broken up, loose stucco, remove any visible nails holding the mesh in place, use tin snips to cut the mesh at the top corners at a 45 degree angle going up and away from the door, then bend the mesh back to allow you to remove the nails holding the patio door nailing flanges in place. Install new door, cover new flange with some adhesive flashing such as Vycor http://www.graceathome.com/pages/flashingprod.htm , fold the mesh back down into place, nail it off, cover the snipped 45 corners with a mesh patch to cover the cut, nail it off, then stucco as usual.
That's the best way to do a remove and replace without compromising the weatherproofing integrity. Unfortunately it can present problems, the same as the other methods, with the aesthetics. The wood trim covering (don't use wood, use Azek or other pvc trim so you won't have to worry about rot - it also holds paint much better than wood) will often stand out like a sore thumb on a house that doesn't have similar trim around the other windows and doors. The smaller clear glass option has obvious disadvantages as well.
Basically it comes down to your particular house's details and how good your contractor is.
So have I helped, or made it worse now that I've given you a third option? ;)
R
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I like option #2 because it will look right when it is done. Option #1 sounds like you will end up with a Frankenstein-type patio door.
-john-
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John A. Weeks III 952-432-2708 snipped-for-privacy@johnweeks.com
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Shantanu Sen wrote:

In-frame replacements look bad. Go with 2. Given the quality of sealants and adhesives and how stringent building codes are about window/door leakage and sealing, as long as the installer and product are reputable the odds of significant infiltration are pretty low.

We went round-and-round with something similar with Window replacements; a contractor we'd used quoted us a price 50% more than Pella & Andersen to replace our windows with Andersen new-construction windows. Some of the price difference (15%) was framing to fit standard size windows to non-standard openings, but most was the cost of ripping off siding to apply membrane to the sheathing and all the other code-requirements for Window installs.
The contractor couldn't understand how Pella & Andersen could both do replacement installs without this work and still meet code, yet both Pella & Andersen have extremely long warranties on products and installation, so I can only assume that materials and installation techniques are good enough that moisture infiltration isn't an issue.
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