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Maintenance DIY: Sliding Doors and Shower Curtains

December 2021

Q: Our rental has a non-standard-size sliding glass door that we’d like to replace. We’d like to get a whole new door and track. How easy is that? We have siding on the house. What should we expect in the way of wall damage or ability to get a larger standard door frame into the space? I’m handy; is this a DIY job or should I have a professional complete the installation?

A: Replacing a sliding glass door and frame as a DIY job is not for the faint of heart! It is not really that difficult as it is unwieldy, and the doors are large and heavy. You state the door is a non-standard size; this might be a good time to standardize your glass door. Start by removing the door, bottom track and frame. This will expose the rough opening in your doorway. Measure the rough opening for a standard sliding door of your choice. It is sometimes easier to enlarge the rough opening to accommodate the new door. The reason for a larger opening is because you will not need to find or install new outside siding or stucco nor patch the inside drywall. “Rough opening” refers to the dimensions inside the trimmer studs and between the floor and the bottom header. This opening will be slightly larger than the patio doorframe. The extra space allows a little fudge room for squaring the frame with shims. If you decide to have a contractor install the new sliding door, have the installer explain in detail what the job will entail, what the finish will look like and how long the job will take. Make sure they are set up for dust control as a job like this can cause a considerable amount of dust during the construction if the opening is enlarged.

Q: I’m planning to rehab all the upstairs bathrooms in my apartment building. This is starting to be expensive and to save money, I am thinking of using heavy-duty shower curtains instead of the more expensive sliding shower doors. What do you think?

A: We highly recommend that you try to save money elsewhere and install the sliding shower doors. In the long run this will save you more money in the form of avoiding water damage to the flooring, walls and in the ceilings of the unit below. Not to mention possible rot of structural members and floor joists below the tub. Shower curtains invite water damage because it is so easy for water to escape onto the floors and beyond. A little water can do a lot of damage.