Water Leaks - Architect says to not use French Doors???

ashleysfApril 23, 2009

I was hell bent on using a pair of exterior French Doors for my MBR (on the ground floor - opening into the backyard). He just dropped it from the design and put sliding patio doors instead (which i do not want). He says that all French Doors leak sooner or later??? I thought that technology was advanced enough now-a-days for manufacturing French Doors that did not leak??? Is he right?? I do not want to give up on my French Doors. (BTW/ we are not happy with how he is pushing us in his direction rather than following our requirements).

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We have a set of 8' double french doors. They've only been in for a year, so I suppose they "may" leak some time in the future. Our doors have a 3-point locking mechanism - they lock in the center, at the base, and one locks into the top while the other locks into that door at the top. Because we are designing for hurricanes, the doors open outward, which makes them able to withstand higher winds. Unless the weather stripping needs to be replaced, I can't see these doors leaking.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 8:07PM
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Any door will leak if it is not of good quality or it is installed improperly. The same is true of windows and skylights. Why would a French door perform any differently than another kind of swinging door? Sliding doors have an open track and no opportunity for compressible jamb weatherstripping so they are more susceptible to air and water leakage IMHO. Are you sure you didn't get the architect's recommendation reversed? Are you sure he's really an architect?

Perhaps the higher cost of French doors is the issue. Are they outswing or inswing? Cheap French doors would be a mistake.

I put 7 French doors in a house 6 years ago and 5 of them were in the living room. They're Marvin wood inswing French Doors with side retracting screens.

If you want French doors you should have them; just don't choose cheap ones. Technology is not the issue; French doors have been designed to be watertight for hundreds of years.

The design process for a private residence is very personal and should be collaborative in order to allow the gathering of many options and opinions so the owner can make the best final decision. Neither of you should be using words like "requirement" after the initial program has been established but that doesn't mean you should ever give up final decision making power. Just tell him what you have decided after listening to his opinions.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 9:54PM
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I have to agree wtih MA for a change; good doors, properly installed, don't leak. I used Andersen French doors in many projects, some directly exposed to the prevailing rains/winds, with no problems. The only leaking door I ever installed (and then had to replace at my own expense), was a Peachtree.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 8:15AM
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Look at patio doors with 3 point locking. I also like the doors that don't have a rubber transom seal at the bottom (which tend to wear out) and instead use rubber seals on the door face around all 4 edges. Check out the Anderson A400 series doors. I am sure other vendors have similar products.

Sliding doors are not as good at blocking air infiltration as a tight sealing patio door. If you live in a cold climate, I would try to avoid them.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 9:13AM
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We had the same arguement with the builder. What we have learned was also how protected the area is. If it is exposed to heavy weather, there is a greater chance of failure. You noticed that I said chance, not will fail.

We have 3 french doors in this house and 2 in our last house. In the one that was exposed to all the weather in the last house, we just needed to watch the weatherstriping. We did have to replace it after around 6 years.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 11:07AM
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Ron Natalie

I've got Anderson A400's. My neighbor has Pella. Neither of us have had any problem with water leakage. The high end Pella/ Anderson french door as patio slider replacements are a far cry from a standard wooden door in the "french door" configuration.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 11:14AM
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FWIW, real life experience - We are in our home about 2-1/2 years and have 6 sets of french doors (Marvin architect series, wood, aluminum clad) and two sliding doors, French door style (Marvin arthitect series, wood, aluminum clad) and live in a moderate climate (middle TN). We get heavy rain, freezing rain and a little snow, but have had no problems with leaking of the French doors in any location. Both types of doors are well sealed, and lock in three locations.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 11:37AM
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Marvin makes a swinging "French Door" in only one model, the "Ultimate". I have specified it many times and it is a first rate product.

Andersen makes a "Hinged Patio Door" in three models listed in order of decreasing quality: Architectural series, 400 Series, & 200 Series.

Pella makes a "Hinged Patio Door" in three models listed in order of decreasing quality: Architect Series, Designer Series, & ProLine.

It is possible to make useful statements about the quality of Marvin's doors but Andersen and Pella make too many models for any non-model-specific statements to be useful, but I will say that I stay away from the lower end of all product lines and avoid Pella altogether because of their poor reputation for order accuracy and field service not that they don't sometimes perform as promised.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 12:02PM
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Thanks a lot for your feedback. I know now that I can go with the French Doors for sure based on your collective wisdom! I was also looking at the Andersen series and now will include Marvin to my list too. I will also look for the 3 point locking mechanism too.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 12:46PM
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Ron Natalie

I have the Architect Pella series in one house and the Anderson 400 series in the other.

While I've not had any trouble with Pella windows their customer support is a complete disaster and the installation job done by the group in Northern Virginia is a complete shoddy mess.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 2:55PM
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My last house had wood french doors ..no special brand name and we never had a leak. That was 20 years ago and we practicly live in a rain forest on the west coast of BC. Lots of wind too. No leaks.

We have switched to fibreglass french doors in our new house simply because they will not warp. That was our only complaint with the wood french doors. It wasn't that noticeable and did not effect the door in anyway. It just irritated me. The maintenance is also so much easier in my opinion. They are painted and unless you look at them closely you would never know that they are not wood.

Designing a house is such a personal thing and you don't want to feel like someone is pushing you around. What you are asking for is not unreasonable. In fact I thought it was pretty standard. Is it too late to find someone that will work with you in a more positive, honest manner? This part of the build should be the most fun.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 4:45PM
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"He just dropped it from the design and put sliding patio doors instead..."

You are a CUSToMER and call the shots.

Tell him to out the doors back in.

He probably called out the cheapest doors previously, and they WILL leak.

Buy a decent quality door and you will not have any problems.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 4:51PM
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Properly installed swing out french doors with a high enough sill do not leak but they can fail in a hurricane at the lock and hinges. Sliding glass door can blow in off their track too. So I do not see his logic unless there is some problem with clearance.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 11:10PM
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I am sure their door situation has been resolved! After all, this post is three years old!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 11:33PM
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I have a 6'0" x 8'0" Anderson French doors in my master bedroom. They are outswing and only under a soffit - no porch in this location. 9 years - no problems. I live in Southwest FL - land of daily afternoon thunderstorms in the summers and plenty of high wind storms throughout the year.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:00AM
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