Sunday, June 14, 2015

Before and (Nearly) After French Doors

Here are the sliding glass doors that led from the dining room to the patio when we purchased our house. 

It was an easy decision to replace them with double French doors that mirror the single door on the other side of the room (which leads to the mudroom). Especially because,  they leaked like a sieve! 

But which French doors? 

Our search was a lengthy one as our criteria were:

1. Double-glazed (for energy efficiency) but look as classic as the traditional single-glazed style. 
2. Made entirely of wood (preferably rot-resistant species such cypress or mahogany). 
3. No required overhang since it is impossible for us to have in this location (most wood exterior doors require a substantial overhang for their warranty to be honored). 
4. Good warranty (five years is typical, ten years is wonderful). 
5. Wood threshold (surprisingly, very few door companies offer wood thresholds for exterior doors). 
6. And of course, they must look beautiful. 

The company who had a model that fit all of these criteria was Simpson. Simpson is a door company we are quite familiar with as we used them throughout our last renovation. 

Having narrowed our search down tremendously, it was surprisingly difficult to find an actual Simpson French door to look at prior to purchase. Simpson is affordable, but when making such a substantial purchase, there is no substitute for seeing a sample in person. It allows you to be absolutely confident that what you're ordering will in fact be what you're envisioning. 

We did receive a drawing of the door which was very helpful. But we also really wanted to see up close details such as the the muntins dividing the lights. Did they simulate a true divided light look or would they look like they were just stuck on? 

We put a fair amount of effort into seeing an example of the door (visiting and calling various showrooms that sold Simpson), but never had any luck in tracking down the model we had selected (or other similar simulated divided light examples). 

So in the end, we had to trust and cross our fingers (and rely on our past experience and satisfaction with Simpson). Our confidence was also bolstered through several phone calls to Simpson themselves. As I have learned numerous times, no one knows a product better than the manufacturers. 

After the doors were ordered, Mike had to remove the concrete step on the patio before they could be installed. 

This is the photo I received from him last Saturday morning with an update of how his day was going. No surprise, there was some rot due to the step and patio being placed tight against the house above the foundation. Luckily, however, the sill (which is behind the boards visible in the photo) was in reasonable shape and did not need to be replaced.

Here is one side of the double door unit. The doors are actually much nicer than we had anticipated. We chose the Nantucket model due to its ten-year warranty, no overhang requirement, and solid construction. 

Here are Nate and Darryn after having removed the old sliders, preparing the opening for the new frame. 

Mike had removed the door slabs from the new frame the night before so that he could prime the oak threshold prior to installation. The threshold will be painted grey. 

Here it is after installing the frame and hanging one door. 

And after both doors were installed. 

While we paint the doors, the opening is covered with plywood. This photo is also a reminder of how nice natural light is. The room would be tremendously dark without the double door. 

I used Photoshop (albeit horribly) to get a glimpse of what they'll look like once painted. 

As for the patio, some drastic changes will have to be made to prevent ongoing water issues. It was recommended to us to have the patio elevation at least eight inches below the sill, which is about 12 inches below where it was when we started. 


  1. It is a joy to see all the improvements that you are doing, with such great taste and attention to detail, and era. The old sliding doors and crazy paving did not do much to enhance the beauty of the house ...

  2. Wow. What a difference this makes! Absolutely stunning, and just in case you didn't know, the house is saying "Thank you!"


  3. It's all coming together nicely Catherine! Don't you just love picking out the details that make a house a home?
    Lori from LL Farm

  4. Wonderful! I sure do admire all your patience in seeking out the best products for your home. You should consider a consulting business for people like me who own old homes but don't know the resources (or have the patience) to find the best products for their renos. We'd love to replace our side and front doors one day with Craftsman style wood doors, but I get overwhelmed by the choices!

    Your home is coming along beautifully. I'm enjoying following your process.

  5. What a difference the French doors make! I'm glad to know about your experience with them since I am beginning the restoration process, which will include replacing a few doors.


  6. I adore French doors. Such a lovely remedy for the sliding glass. I do hope everything gets worked out for the best.

  7. Look great! Good rule of thumb: if it's called "Nantucket-anything", buy it. ;-)

  8. I hope you are staying in this house forever! :)

  9. Adding all the right kind of rightness to your country living home.
    Looking forward to so much more progress.



  10. This is a post to keep for reference for sure. In our little old house, we have mostly used old reclaimed exterior doors, or my husband had to make them (our front doors). I love the oak threshold, that is a must! Looking good!

  11. We are in the market for a door as well, thank you for the recommendation! Everything looks fabulous so far.

  12. Looks beautiful! I am certain this is a silly question, but why use wood doors when you are going to paint them? I'm enjoying watching the progress on your beautiful home!! Blessings from Missouri!

    1. You can paint wood doors. The non-wood options usually come in colors you choose. And we wanted an exact match plus, the true look of wood.

  13. And new siding too? Wow! Looks great!

    1. Yes, looks like siding replacement underway - also, isn't that a new window present in your last frame that was not present in the first frame? One more question, do I observe a deliberate tapering going on so that the roofline slopes downward, and to the right? Is there a corresponding slope on the opposite wall to encourage water away from the house, what is that tapered slope doing? Apologies for inaccurate construction industry nomenclature!

      Amelia Island FL

    2. Hi Flo! Yes, new windows in kitchen. I hope to post on those soon. The ridge of the roof is not straight due to years of settling. We were also told that the back ell was once shaped quite differently, which contributes to the irregular lines as well. Whether these varying slopes help or hurt water flow - well, I can only hope it helps! Best, Catherine

    3. Thank you! It's going to be so WONDERFUL! Couldn't help remembering way back when, and thinking how your previous French doors/patio intersection resulted in this magical solution!


  14. We yanked out a 70s slider and built a breakfast bay with Simpson wooden doors. Now I'm slowly replacing other doors with Simpson. I'm enjoying your project tremendously. Have a great weekend.


Thank you for leaving your thoughts. Kind regards, Catherine

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