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,
What's the verdict here?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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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