How to remove & replace a patio door

Written by ann white
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Replacing older single-pane patio doors provides homeowners a means of reducing their overall electrical costs with state of the art glass with double panes, argon and special coatings. On average, a full patio door replacement will take a full day, so plan this project accordingly. For best results, consider doing this home improvement project in the spring, summer or early fall to avoid unpredictable weather while the sealants dry.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Drill
  • Magnet
  • Tiger's claw
  • Level
  • Self-adhering waterproof barrier tape
  • Nails
  • Shims
  • Screws
  • Caulking
  • Insulation foam

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  1. 1

    Cut through the paint and caulk around the edges of the door casing using a utility knife. Cut along the entire wall, the door's casing, and the angled slits of the casing. Using a hammer, gently drive a putty knife into the casing's seam to open a space for a pry bar. Use the pry bar to gently break the casing loose and remove.

  2. 2

    Remove the top frame of the patio door, using the drill with a screw head. This will allow the glass doors to slide off the frame. Remove the sliding door and the screen and set aside.

  3. 3

    Cut through the exterior caulk around the frame with the utility knife. Use the magnet to locate the nails in the frame and draw a circle around their location. Remove the nails with the tiger's claw and pry the frame loose. Remove any additional nails in the old door's fin with the tiger's paw. Remove any screws holding the framing in place and gently push the frame out. To avoid injury, consider using two people for this task: one on the outside of the frame, holding it steady and the other on the inside gently pushing the frame loose.

  4. 4

    Inspect the rough opening for any signs of dry rot. Remove and replace any wood with dry rot with treated wood before installing the new door. Use a level to check the evenness of the rough opening. Place the level on the bottom and make sure the bubble is centred. Check that the sides are plumb (or level) as well to ensure the door will fit in evenly. If the opening is too large for the new door, nail plywood pieces to the necessary sides to reduce the size of the opening.

  5. 5

    Place a layer of self-adhering waterproof barrier against all wood pieces in the opening. The tape should be placed at the bottom first, going 6 inches up on each wall. Next place the barrier on the walls and finally the top, overlapping the walls by 6 inches. Cut the tape at the edges and fold the pieces to cover the outside of the opening.

  6. 6

    Re-attach the bottom sill support panel. Place three beads of silicone caulking on top of the barrier tape around the entire doorframe. Bend out the fins of the new door to create a 90-degree angle with the frame. Place the door into the bottom of the frame and tilt it up gently until it sits in place.

  7. 7

    Place two nails in the top fin to hold the door in place. Verify that the new frame is level and plumb and apply shims as necessary to fill in any gaps. Drive screws through the frame, shims and into the solid wood for a sturdy hold. Nail the rest of the fin in place on the outside. Fill the bottom fin holes with silicone before securing, to ensure that no water can leak into the fastener holes. Drive in any final screws at the top and check that the door is completely attached. Place another layer of waterproof barrier on top of the nailing fin and press down for a complete seal.

  8. 8

    Put the slide side of the door in place and test it. Re-install the exterior wood trim, placing fresh caulking around the edges.

  9. 9

    Trim the shims on the inside of the door and fill in the gaps with low expanding insulation foam. Once the foam has set, reinstall the interior door casing and touch up the interior paint.

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