Erin and her husband spent two full days replacing a sliding door that leads from their master bedroom to a small deck. Neither tight stairs, bugs or heavy rains would thwart their efforts. The result is a clear view that lightens up the room and provides a gorgeous view of the outdoors.
Erin lives with her husband and children in Minnesota. She and her husband had more or less completed renovating a 1920’s bungalow style house when they stumbled upon the house of their dreams that just happened to be listed for a short sale. “This sprawling lodge was nothing like our first love, the 1920's bungalow, but for some reason it stole our little DIY hearts. Maybe it was the great wooded yard and neighborhood, but this guy felt like our own personal retreat right from the start.” Says Erin. They went into this project with open eyes. Before they even bought the house, they made a list of all the projects they wanted to complete to make it their own.
One of the projects on the list was replacing the sliding door to the deck off the master bedroom. The slider was original to the house, which made it 30+ years old. The wood was rotting, ants had taken up residence in the frame and the seal on the left side of the glass was broken. This clouded the glass making it streaky and hard to see through. Erin and her husband planned a weekend to tackle replacing the sliding door.
Challenges of Replacing a Sliding Door
Erin and her husband are experienced DIYers, but one of the hardest parts of this project came when they were trying to maneuver the new door up the tight, winding staircase of their modern architecture home. The process involved a few curses and even some dings to the walls. They considered hoisting the replacement sliding door up to the deck with a garden hose but that idea was quickly nixed. They soldiered on, eventually getting the door where it needed to be.
Next came the challenge of removing the old door. There was no easy way, but after an hour, and with a pry bar and some gnashing of teeth, the old door was finally removed (no word on weather the garden hose hoist idea was considered for removing the old sliding door). Once the old slider was out, they had precious little time to get the new sliding door in before they would be swarmed by with mosquitos. Nothing like the prospect of being overrun by hungry bugs to motivate your work flow.
Despite taking careful measurements multiple times, the new door wasn’t an exact size match to the old opening. It was either use a best guess estimate when placing the order for the replacement sliding door or take the old door out and wait 3-4 weeks, with a gaping hold in their bedroom, for a custom made door to arrive. They opted to order using best guess sizing and used extra framing and molding to customize the fit for their needs.
They finished replacing the sliding door just as darkness fell and the swarms of Minnesota mosquitos descended. And frankly, not a moment too soon: with the darkness came heavy rains, so the trim would have to wait for another day.
Replacing a Sliding Door – The Trim
Before installing the trim, Erin sprayed expandable foam insulation to insure a tight fit and keep the cold winter winds out. The inspiration for her trim came from the Mission-style trim installed in other newly renovated parts of the house. Once she had trimmed – the inside of the door, she used painter’s caulk to minimize seams and fill nail holes. After a few coats of white paint, the door looked like it had always been there. Despite project fatigue and a strong desire to be DONE with this door, Erin still had to trim the outside.
She purchased vinyl molding and after an hour with her miter saw, she’d made the cuts and had it installed. Then it was time to thoroughly caulk the seams and joints to insure a watertight seal. Caulking is a necessary and messy step, but some touch up paint on the clapboards and a coat on the molding and the project was done.
Advice for Replacing a Sliding Door
Erin and her husband are diehard DIYers, but in an effort to preserve their sanity and their marriage, they came up with some rules that guide their home renovation projects.
- A minimum of 1 day each week will be a Project-Free Family Day.
- Never start a new project until we've completed the last one.
- Always take time off from projects to spend quality time with our kids and make sure they are involved.
- When things go wrong, walk away. We have our entire lives to finish this house.
On a more concrete level, Erin strongly recommends purchasing pre-primed trim. The extra cost will be made up in time saved priming the trim and waiting for it to dry.
She also highly recommends the vinyl brick molding for exterior doors and windows. It’s easy to work with, low maintenance and long lasting.
Do you have experience replacing a sliding glass door?