Friday, 2 April 2010

The Aluminium Sliding Door

When we first saw our house, we assumed that the aluminium siding door in the living area (on the left in the above photo) wasn't original as aluminium joinery generally isn't a common feature in house built in the late 60s. However, the original plans showed that they were in fact intended, and a discussion with the original owner confirmed that they were part of the design.

Apparently, the door never worked particularly well (things were still being fine-tuned in the NZ ranchslider industry), and at some point the door had actually been riveted shut entirely. This resulted in no ventilation in the living area, and some years of condensation then contributed to the disintegration and rotting of the wooden frame.

Water could seep through underneath the frame, and what you can see above is the insidious tendrils of ivy which also grew around the door and into the living area.

Given that the door wasn't particularly functional, we decided to replace it with an oregon timber sliding door, in keeping with the doors in the dining area (which you can see in the photo above). We had the joiner all lined up to make them, he had come up with a pretty lovely design. Then Matt got a senior architect from Warren & Mahoney to come and have a look.

I wasn't witness to the exchange, but I understand that all it took was for the architect to say that we shouldn't replace it, for Matt to put a halt on the new doors and set about finding an aluminium door reconditioner (yes, there are such people).

Apparently, the doors were meant to look as much like a large window as possible (like the one on the adjacent wall), whilst providing ventilation. The only way to achieve this was to use aluminium joinery, as the edges could be very subtle and thin, and give the impression of a window - particularly from outside.

So, a couple of days later the aluminium guy shows up. He takes one look and shakes his head and says "no way". He explains that the door is not only very good, it is now stuffed as the tracks it runs on have been damaged by both ivy, and the irregularity of the rotten frame.

Despite explaining that even with several hours of hard work, the door would never function well, Matt insisted that we push on. He wouldn't consider a new door (wood or aluminium), nor a window. Needless to say, the aluminium guy was fairly unimpressed, and I have to admit, I was also considering it foolish to try to restore something that was never going to be very good.

Anyway, the builder and the joiner came along a couple of weeks ago now, and took the door out:

And removed the rotten frame:

And the glazier took the frames away and reglazed them with safety glass.

Then the joiner built a new frame, which the builder installed.

He then replaced the doors until the aluminium guy could come yesterday to create new tracks to make it slide.

And now it works.

Kind of.

It certainly looks nicer. Except the aluminium is really sort of corroded, and dirty looking.

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