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Thread: Exterior Door with Lites

  1. #1
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    Exterior Door with Lites

    I finished installing this stave core construction door yesterday.



    I had never built an exterior door with lites before. Custom sized sealed units were going to run over $500 plus shipping. And I remember Jack Forsberg's comments about them being a failed technology, so I decided to use two pieces of glass sort of like my Pella windows. The outside pane sits against a foam seal:



    The pieces of light colored wood you see around the inside of the frame are spacers which are the exact thickness of the two panes of glass plus the spacer between them. After the first piece of glass is laid on top of the weather stripping, the glass spacers are laid in and pin nailed to the outer spacers.




    Then the second piece of glass is laid in place. Finally, the retainer pieces are cut and fit into the dado left around the inside of the frame. They look like this.



    After fitting into place I pin nailed them to the frame.




    This gives a nice, clean look to go with the rest of the door.



    For the curious the door is white oak on the outside and white ash on the inside. I filled the grain in the white ash and colored it with dye toners to match the aged pine trim which I reused around the door. The outside is finished with GF's Exterior 450. We'll see how the finish and the door hold up behind the storm door.




    John

  2. #2
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    John, have you built windows before with this non-sealed double glazing?

  3. #3
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    I think you might have detailed a winner but I wonder how this would fare without the overhead cover and a storm door.
    I'm thinking that the foam might not have created as good a seal as would a bead of silicone. Not being critical - I don't know the answer.
    In any case, your system allows for a relatively easy replacement/retrofit if the seal is ever compromised.

    This door certainly looks great. Nicely done.
    "... for when we become in heart completely poor, we at once are the treasurers & disbursers of enormous riches."
    WQJudge

  4. #4
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    Stunningly nice door for a MCM house!

    Will be interested to see how you fare with condensation between the glass layers with unsealed units. I'm curious about the "failed technology" comment with respect to sealed units. I've got about 100 of them and so far they work splendidly, allowing us to have a lot of windows while maintaining exceptional energy efficiency.

  5. #5
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    Dec 2004
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    Cincinnati, OH
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    Thanks for the post of a nice looking door. I am in the middle of constructing 2 entry doors for a friend and each will have a single pane lites. We are using tempered panes as the doors will be fitted to an occasionally used timber frame farm cabin. Except for winter heating with wood, the cabin will not have conditioned air.

    The plan has been to seat the glass with silicone with removable trim in case of breakage. I wonder how to minimize damage to the trim you use in case replacement of the glass is needed. Apart from the foam, did you use any sealants.

    Thanks again.
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

  6. #6
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    Beautiful work, John!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
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    I don't know how the glass will fare over time. The two unsealed panes is not much different from my Pella windows and I very rarely get condensation between them. As you noted, the door is covered by the porch and the storm door, so direct rain against it was not a concern. I'm actually more concerned about how the finish is going to handle being behind the storm door as it faces S. and the sun does hit it for part of the day. But I did make the inside moldings so they can be removed relatively easily in case a pane gets broken, which was the primary reason I didn't set the outside pane in silicone. My sample size on a door with lites now stands at 1, so we'll see how it fares over the next year or so.

    John

  8. #8
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    You'll have to ask Jack directly about his reasons for saying sealed glass units is a failed technology.

    John

  9. #9
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    Thanks. Tempered glass is required in all man doors, so you used the right stuff, as did I with this door. But I would not use single pane glass for an exterior door. It's just not that hard to add a second pane and the thermal performance must be at least 5x higher.

    I didn't set the outer pane in silicone because I felt it would be a pain to remove if the glass gets broken. Maybe I'm wrong on that, but that's why I went with the window foam seal. The inner trim is sized so that it slightly compresses the foam seal as it is pressed into place; I'm relying on that to make an airtight seal. To remove the inner trim you just slide a thin plastic putty knife down behind the long, side pieces (only they are pin nailed) to pry them loose. I'll know in a year or so how this approach works. Hopefully, it will fare well because next Summer I have to build another house door with lites. That might be a little higher end job so maybe they will want to pony up for sealed units. If they fail, it likely will be after either of us is around to see it.

    John

  10. #10
    John, I followed your process on Wood Forum but for some reason I cannot access my account there to ask questions. As I recall you used LVL for the core. Did you buy it from a local lumber yard? Our stores them outside and they have a waxy coating on them. How did you handle these 2 issues? Thanks!

  11. #11
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    I used poplar for the stave cores of the stiles on this door and LVL for the rails because I had some left over from a prior door project. Normally I use LVL for everything but I had the poplar and didn't have any LVL. I buy LVL beams at my local HD. They are stored inside and are dry. I cut them to rough length then run them through my drum sander to remove the waxy coating. Other folks remove it with 60 or 80 grit on a ROS. I let the sanded sections sit a week or two before using them to make sure the MC is the same as my shop. In this case I didn't have that much time so I used the poplar I already had. Regardless of what I use, I try to let the glued up stave cores sit for at least a week before joint/planing them to final thickness to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

    John

  12. #12
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    One more comment about the foam seal. I used an EPDM closed cell foam specifically made for windows. There is another version made from silicone. In either case, if you expect direct rain you apply a bead of silicone caulk over the edge of the foam. That gives you the advantage of it being completely air/water tight w/o gluing the glass into the molding, and should make it a lot easier to remove if ever needed.

    John

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    One more comment about the foam seal. I used an EPDM closed cell foam specifically made for windows. There is another version made from silicone. In either case, if you expect direct rain you apply a bead of silicone caulk over the edge of the foam. That gives you the advantage of it being completely air/water tight w/o gluing the glass into the molding, and should make it a lot easier to remove if ever needed.

    John
    That's the ticket ^
    "... for when we become in heart completely poor, we at once are the treasurers & disbursers of enormous riches."
    WQJudge

  14. #14
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    Great post John. Thanks for sharing.

  15. #15
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    OK, a further comment about the stave cores as relates to LVL beams. My mentor said he used to use LVL cores essentially as received; just cut them to width and face jointed/planed to thickness, then glued on the veneer skins. But after having a couple of them bend he changed to true stave core construction, so that's how I've built the doors I've made.

    To start I rip the LVL into sections a little wider than my desired core thickness, so if I'm making a 1-3/4" exterior door with 3/16" skins, I would rip them at 1-1/2". Then I rotate them 90, and usually flip every other one end for end as well.



    Then glue them back together with TB II or III in sections large enough to rip out 2 stiles or a top and bottom rail.



    After ripping the stiles to width I glue on the solid wood edging, usually 7/8" thick. Depending upon the design, the solid edging may only be required on the outside edge.



    These sections are then face jointed flat and planed to final thicknes. Then the veneer is vacuum bagged on to yield the composite that looks like this.



    John

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