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.
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
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
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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