Robert Lamoureux: Replacing French doors, house exterior

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected]
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Question No. 1
Hi Robert,

I live in Valencia and have several outside-opening wood French doors that open to a patio that I need to replace. They are approximately 30 years old (30 by 80 inches). and about 1 inch thick and have wood rot issues. What would be the best replacement option? Wood, vinyl or fiberglass? Also, can you recommend any local companies that have experience with French door installation or fabrication? Always enjoy your articles in The Signal and appreciate your help and guidance.
— Del H.

Answer No. 1
Del,

Thank you for being a loyal reader of The Signal. The selection you’re asking about is an opinion. My choice would be the least amount of maintenance. A metal clad on the exterior with wood paint grade is a very good choice for French doors, in my opinion. The exterior only needs metal paint and does well in our environment here in the Santa Clarita Valley. I’ve sent a recommendation with contact information to you. Best of luck with the project.

— Robert

Question No. 2
Robert,

Thank you for taking time out this morning when I met you. You were very approachable, and I appreciate all the information you gave to me. Following is the information and questions, so that I may receive your written reply. We are going to replace the exterior of our home, currently a combination of stucco and siding, with all stucco. We’ll be replacing windows at the same time, so this is quite the project that we want to do, but we want to choose quality items so we are using funds wisely for the long term.

We plan on staying here, so efficiency is key. I’m trying to educate myself on things before I reach out to contractors, and one product that keeps coming up is Tyvek. It is more costly, but is it necessary, is it worth the increased costs over the standard product behind the stucco? The finish we want to use is either the Santa Barbara or Beverly Hills finish, different names but I think they are the same, right?

There’s a product you mentioned in an article that is to be applied after the paper and first layer of concrete, which will help with the quality of the stucco to keep it from cracking, but I cannot remember the name of it or exactly what it is for. Will you please elaborate on that once again?

— Gary

Answer No. 2
Gary,

It was a pleasure meeting you. Feel free to stop me any time for questions, if you see me. I’d definitely go with the higher-cost Tyvek. It is worth its pricing for the additional protection it offers. It’s a great moisture barrier and a great additional layer of protection that follows the standard paper installation, followed by the lath and so on. The membrane that you are referring to is an anti-fracture membrane, which is a cloth that separates the acrylic finish from the brown coat. You can do it without, but especially with a steel trowel finish, you’ll get a better look, with less hairline cracks visible, with the membrane added. The process is that the scratch coat is installed followed by the brown coat, which needs to dry a minimum of two weeks, then the anti-fracture membrane is installed.

The final acrylic trowel finish can then be applied (this is what you are referring to as “Santa Barbara” or “Beverly Hills”). Keep in mind that nothing will prevent all hairline cracks. It is inevitable that some will occur and, in a smoother finish, will be more noticeable than if you have a different finish. The cracking is greatly minimized with this membrane, however, so I would highly recommend that if you can afford to use it that you do so, as you will be much happier with the aesthetics in the end. Good luck with this project and remember to use a licensed and insured contractor.

— Robert

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