Sliding Glass Doors

mrd1995

Member
Feb 21, 2020
191
North East, Pa
Good morning everyone,
We moved into our new home last November, after having one winter in the home our first project was to install a secondary heat source. We are in the midst of that now waiting on the installer to get our stove in now. One of the next things that we want to tackle potentially is replacing the two sliding glass doors on the home. It was built in 1983 with 2 x 6 construction and is fairly well insulated, after the last owner I need to go through and rebutton things up. He would install something tear out the insulation and not replace it...

But my question for everyone is what would you replace these two doors with, we love the open viewing that over looks our little stream and the vineyards beyond that. Do they make some relatively will insulated sliding glass doors? If so any manufacture recommendations?
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,993
Northern NH
I think the standard recommendation is to replace sliders with french doors. Sliders no matter how good they are have a lot more infiltration. Also consider spending some time getting the right internal coating to optimize sunlight and radiant transmission.
 
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NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
362
Massachusetts
We replaced some French style patio doors that leaked terribly and even frosted on the inside with a Pella sliding door with built in shades. Technically it’s one big window and one sliding door since one side is immobile.

Mine are something like this:


New doors made a big difference plus we gained some room space back compare to the French doors opening in to the room.
 
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Wooden Head

Burning Hunk
Sep 14, 2009
233
West Michigan
Good morning everyone,
We moved into our new home last November, after having one winter in the home our first project was to install a secondary heat source. We are in the midst of that now waiting on the installer to get our stove in now. One of the next things that we want to tackle potentially is replacing the two sliding glass doors on the home. It was built in 1983 with 2 x 6 construction and is fairly well insulated, after the last owner I need to go through and rebutton things up. He would install something tear out the insulation and not replace it...

But my question for everyone is what would you replace these two doors with, we love the open viewing that over looks our little stream and the vineyards beyond that. Do they make some relatively will insulated sliding glass doors? If so any manufacture recommendations?
I've replaced the sliding doors on the main level and basement level of our home.
Part of the replacing is the co$t. What are you willing to spend?
My main level replacement is aluminum clad outside and wood inside. It is a center 32 inch door with 15 inch door an each side. The price was around $3000.
The basement door is a French fiberglass door style with one opening door. The price was around $1000.
 

mrd1995

Member
Feb 21, 2020
191
North East, Pa
We are willing to save for a while if necessary, my wife and I both share the idea of buying it once and doing it right. @Wooden Head do you notice a difference as far as energy efficiency between the two? Our basement door will probably be the priority it has two of the three sections leaked out the insulation gas, steamed and frosted and drafty as heck.
 

mrd1995

Member
Feb 21, 2020
191
North East, Pa
We also have a French door upstairs that frosted over last winter as well, so basically all doors and windows in the near future.
 

zrock

Minister of Fire
Dec 2, 2017
1,030
bc
While you are doing your research on the new doors make sure you research your local installer as well.. A bad install will be worse than the old doors. After installing doors for several years call a installer..LOL... while i made sure my installs were 100% some doors took me days to install due to framing issues and other things in the home.. A professional installer would have been able to du it much faster than me with some tricks and have the same results i did
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,375
Downeast Maine
Sliding doors are pretty easy to install compared to French doors or other swing doors. The frames are easy to shim into your rough opening and don't require a lot of complicated tools. Our house had some old, but nice, 70's sliders that were all drafty and had busted glass seals. We replaced all four with $300 vinyl sliders from HD that are 100% better at keeping the cold out and the heat in. They slide nicely and function well, but obviously don't look as nice as doors that cost over 4x as much.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,993
Northern NH
It all comes down to how many inches of sliding contact surface. Sliders have a lot and every inch of sliding seal more air than a fixed seal. That is one of the reasons why casement window are much more efficient than double hungs. Most energy efficient French doors use stationary compressed seals on one operable door. They dont have to slide, the latching mechanism normally engages the catches on the top and bottom and then pulls the door shut against the seal. Even if the second door can open, its a lot easier to seal up against a fixed bulb type seal than it is to seal a gap that needs to allow sliding although my experience is that there is lot more thermal loss with two operable doors as the sealing in between them are a compromise. Obviously the R value of glass isnt great even if its ultra high performance. cut the window area in half and the performance goes way up but the cat and dog lose their view out the lower half of the door ;).

In cold climates I see a lot of sliders with floor length curtains over them as on cold night they still allow infrared radiation outdoors at a exponential rate higher than a wall. The inevitably cause a cold spot in room as there is no good place to put a radiator.
 
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mrd1995

Member
Feb 21, 2020
191
North East, Pa
It all comes down to how many inches of sliding contact surface. Sliders have a lot and every inch of sliding seal more air than a fixed seal. That is one of the reasons why casement window are much more efficient than double hungs. Most energy efficient French doors use stationary compressed seals on one operable door. They dont have to slide, the latching mechanism normally engages the catches on the top and bottom and then pulls the door shut against the seal. Even if the second door can open, its a lot easier to seal up against a fixed bulb type seal than it is to seal a gap that needs to allow sliding although my experience is that there is lot more thermal loss with two operable doors as the sealing in between them are a compromise. Obviously the R value of glass isnt great even if its ultra high performance. cut the window area in half and the performance goes way up but the cat and dog lose their view out the lower half of the door ;).

In cold climates I see a lot of sliders with floor length curtains over them as on cold night they still allow infrared radiation outdoors at a exponential rate higher than a wall. The inevitably cause a cold spot in room as there is no good place to put a radiator.
We have the floor length blackout curtains and they seem to help a lot with the convection aspect of the air.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,375
Downeast Maine
I think French doors offer more issues as they age and have issues with seal integrity. All swing doors will sag over time.
 
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xman23

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
2,250
Lackawaxen PA
Take a look at Pella.
 
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Wooden Head

Burning Hunk
Sep 14, 2009
233
West Michigan
We are willing to save for a while if necessary, my wife and I both share the idea of buying it once and doing it right. @Wooden Head do you notice a difference as far as energy efficiency between the two? Our basement door will probably be the priority it has two of the three sections leaked out the insulation gas, steamed and frosted and drafty as heck.
I've been much happier with the new door in the basement. The reason I chose a single opening French door was all of the double opening door stiles I've seen seem to have sealing problems over time. The doors do not match up well and the seals leak.
I saw that someone suggested hiring an installer. This may be the wise way to go.
With my install, the things that I found after taking out the old doors was a great challenge. The basement opening was not as tall as it should have been. The builder did not leave enough space for shimming and insulation. the new door was about .25 inches taller and would not fit. We got it in with some creative carpentry. A 4 hour job turned into 2 days.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,375
Downeast Maine
I've been much happier with the new door in the basement. The reason I chose a single opening French door was all of the double opening door stiles I've seen seem to have sealing problems over time. The doors do not match up well and the seals leak.
I saw that someone suggested hiring an installer. This may be the wise way to go.
With my install, the things that I found after taking out the old doors was a great challenge. The basement opening was not as tall as it should have been. The builder did not leave enough space for shimming and insulation. the new door was about .25 inches taller and would not fit. We got it in with some creative carpentry. A 4 hour job turned into 2 days.
We have been forced into plenty of "creative carpentry" on our house as well. I don't look forward to replacing our odd sized front door.
 

mrd1995

Member
Feb 21, 2020
191
North East, Pa
We have been forced into plenty of "creative carpentry" on our house as well. I don't look forward to replacing our odd sized front door.
That's part of the issue I am dreading with the basement door, I haven't measured it yet but it seems like an odd size. My father in-law who does remodeling on homes seemed to think so as well, seems vary long close to 8-9ft. It is one of those things I am putting off because I think I know the answer already...
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,375
Downeast Maine
That's part of the issue I am dreading with the basement door, I haven't measured it yet but it seems like an odd size. My father in-law who does remodeling on homes seemed to think so as well, seems vary long close to 8-9ft. It is one of those things I am putting off because I think I know the answer already...
All four of our sliders were a few inches larger than a standard slider in both dimensions, but that was easy to shim with a few pieces of plywood. Some companies do make longer sliders with two fixed doors or whatever you need, but another option could be just building in the wall to make it a smaller opening and then you also get more insulation. Maybe even less time consuming than installing a giant patio slider.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,958
SW Virginia
We have a 30+ year old 8ft. slider by Andersen and it seems to seal relatively well based on IR camera imaging. As @peakbagger mentioned they have more sliding seals and thus more potential for leakage. A compressed seal will almost always seal better than a sliding seal (think double-hung versus casement windows).
We also now have and have had french doors that seem to leak as much if not more than our old slider, so a lot depends on the quality of the product and the installation. A slider installed not plumb/level will never seal well.
A few other things to consider are the large step-over height of french doors, (a trip hazard) and that they require swing room inside or outside. French doors also present some unique challenges when trying to use bug screens - a slider, not so much.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,375
Downeast Maine
We have a 30+ year old 8ft. slider by Andersen and it seems to seal relatively well based on IR camera imaging. As @peakbagger mentioned they have more sliding seals and thus more potential for leakage. A compressed seal will almost always seal better than a sliding seal (think double-hung versus casement windows).
We also now have and have had french doors that seem to leak as much if not more than our old slider, so a lot depends on the quality of the product and the installation. A slider installed not plumb/level will never seal well.
A few other things to consider are the large step-over height of french doors, (a trip hazard) and that they require swing room inside or outside. French doors also present some unique challenges when trying to use bug screens - a slider, not so much.
The bug screens and less space required for the sliders won us over when we were choosing our replacement. The ease of install of a slider compared to French doors is a nice bonus.
 
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MTY

Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
438
Idaho
Three houses ago I installed a Peachtree fiberglass French door in place of a slider. It was great for awhile, but then started having small irritating issues.

The last house had an 8' slider. I should have replaced it, as it was aluminum framed, but some idiot poured a concrete patio against the bottom flange. I'd have had to jack hammer the patio out.

The current house has 3 six foot sliders. Two in the living room and one in the basement. I bought the highest rated glass treatments I could get. On a hot August day, one does not feel much heat coming through. Opening the door is like opening a blast furnace door. If they last ten years I will be too senile to care about the condition they are in.

Monday I have the plumbing inspection, Tuesday the electrical, and I am done.

I have too much glass to be really efficient, but the r60 in the ceiling seems to be doing its job. My electric bill was $64 last month. I ran the heat strips, while I was away with the stat set at 63, and at 69 while I was there, but I have not fired up the water heater yet. This is running two fridges, and one range. Where I am going with this is that while you may feel you are losing too much heat with a slider, you can make it up elsewhere with insulation. If you are willing to lose x number of btu's, who care where they exit the house.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,958
SW Virginia
Three houses ago I installed a Peachtree fiberglass French door in place of a slider. It was great for awhile, but then started having small irritating issues.

The last house had an 8' slider. I should have replaced it, as it was aluminum framed, but some idiot poured a concrete patio against the bottom flange. I'd have had to jack hammer the patio out.

The current house has 3 six foot sliders. Two in the living room and one in the basement. I bought the highest rated glass treatments I could get. On a hot August day, one does not feel much heat coming through. Opening the door is like opening a blast furnace door. If they last ten years I will be too senile to care about the condition they are in.

Monday I have the plumbing inspection, Tuesday the electrical, and I am done.

I have too much glass to be really efficient, but the r60 in the ceiling seems to be doing its job. My electric bill was $64 last month. I ran the heat strips, while I was away with the stat set at 63, and at 69 while I was there, but I have not fired up the water heater yet. This is running two fridges, and one range. Where I am going with this is that while you may feel you are losing too much heat with a slider, you can make it up elsewhere with insulation. If you are willing to lose x number of btu's, who care where they exit the house.
I now envision you in the future, walking around your house, muttering incessantly about sliding doors... ;)

I agree with your logic though. You lose in some places and make up for those losses in others. Doors and windows is definitely one of those areas for me.
Why site your house in a beautiful location if you can't see it through some windows.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,993
Northern NH
The compromise I made on my house 30 years ago was wide windows for the view. I dont live on a mountain looking down a valley rather I live on a 1400 foot ridge looking up at a couple of 5000 foot mountains so I get the view framed by the windows but have the space under the wndows as a solid insulated wall. The big mistake years ago with early passive solar designs was putting in too much glass. Sliders and french doors were both both problematical as they rarely had adequate shading or overhangs to limit summer time overheating and they tended to radiate a lot of heat at night. I do admit I violated the window to wall ratio in my second floor office as I really appreciate the light in the winter but I am reminded of the decision every summer when the room overheats and in the winter when I have to thrown a lot more heat at it during the long dark hours before the sun rises. if there is next house I am going to spend a lot more time on window design.
 

MTY

Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
438
Idaho
I miss counted. I have four sliders in the new place. Two in the living room and two in the basement. I have 100' of 7' eve upstairs, and 3' deep by 8' wide overhanging individual little roofs above the basement sliders. But the two upstairs bedrooms have so much glass that I had to sheet the inside with half inch plywood for shear, and the eves are only 18" above them.

I bought the same brand windows we have in the house we live in, and those have been going strong for 11 years. No issues yet. There are three sliders in this place.