What You Need to Know About Converting a Window into a Door
Any room in your house with an exterior wall could have an exterior door. However, adding a door to a home is a serious structural consideration. Cutting into the wall of a home means you need to know what's inside the wall first. If the wall is load-bearing, contains plumbing, or has been wired, then special steps will need to be taken to make your exterior door a reality.
The easiest and safest way to achieve a new exterior door is to convert an existing window. Let's say you want a patio door from the master bedroom. Replacing one of your bedroom windows with a door beautifully achieves this goal and makes good use of your wall space. We want to lay out exactly what homeowners should know ahead of time when converting a window to a door. You can count on our team to explain the specifics to you when you start your conversion; in the meantime you can check out the step-by-step process on our window-to-door page. If you're looking for quick answers and useful facts, then continue reading.
Converting a Window is Easier Than Cutting a New Door
You never know just how important a blank wall is in your home until it comes time to cut a new door. With any wall, you must ask yourself whether it's load-bearing (holding the house up) or if the wall contains some essential pipes or wiring that cannot be cut. Cutting any of these obstructions can be disastrous. The good news is that windows make it easier — and safer — to create a door location. The reason is that windows are never built into load-bearing walls because the window cannot bear weight. This is good for our project because the window marks a safe non-load-bearing location where the door can go. The window also creates a convenient existing hole through-and-through the siding, insulation, and drywall. This significantly reduces the amount of material that needs to be cut away.
You Will Need a Window and Door Replacement Permit
Replacing one window with another of the same size does not require a building permit. Likewise, you can replace doors inside the same structural doorframe without a permit. However, cutting a new frame -even from an existing one - does need a permit. The permit ensures that your plan will be up-to-code when complete. The new aperture must be secure, insulated, and structurally sound to pass a building inspection. Being up to code is essential for selling your home in the future and, in some cases, maintaining your home insurance. If your home does not pass inspection after a window conversion, then future buyers could not get a loan to buy it from you. Converting a window into a door is a structural change. Because there is plumbing, wiring, and the potential for structural damage, your plans must be legally approved and a license granted.
Choose a Window Wider than Your Desired Door Width
The door you convert will be 2" inches narrower than the original window aperture. The standard door width (wide enough for a wheelchair) is 32" across the opening, so we advise choosing a window that is at least 38" wide across the glass. Universally, you will need to choose a window that is wider than the door you'd like to install. Wide window panels give you the opportunity to choose a double-door or frame a single-door. We have had many customers choose to install a sliding glass door or a set of French doors after converting a wide bay of windows. If you'd like a single door from a wide window, you can frame your door with decorative panels in the same style as many front doors. You can convert a narrower window into a narrow door. In this case, you will likely need a custom door to be created, which serves as an opportunity to personalize the door's design as well.
A Window-to-Door Conversion is Not a DIY Project
We love to see enthusiasm for DIY home improvement, and many door projects can be done by handy homeowners. Window-to-door conversion, however, is not one of those projects. For the same reasons that a permit is required to start the project, it's best to leave window conversion to a professional construction team. We will handle any wires, pipes, structural concerns, and fully resealing your home into a safe and insulated residence.
Below-Window Wiring Must be Re-Routed by an Electrician
A window indicates that the wall is non-load-bearing but that doesn't mean it can be sliced right through. Most stretches of residential wall are lined with wires for outlets and lights. Some walls contain pipes for household plumbing. It's vital to scan a wall and identify these features before cutting into the siding and through the drywall.
You May Need A Custom Sized Door
Whether your converted window is large or small, this renovation often calls for a custom-sized door. The most common case is converting a 32" window into a 30" door, two inches narrower than standard doors and still fully functional. For smaller windows, you can have an unusually narrow door installed for your personal use. As long as the aperture is professionally constructed and up to code, small doors are a homeowner's priviledge that you can choose to enjoy. Custom width doors are also an option. In this case, the most common example are custom double-doors to fit into a wide — but not standard double — space. In this case, both doors may be narrow, but equal a wide doorway between them. You can also use paneled spacers to fit your door into a slightly too-wide window frame.
Let's Plan Your Window-to-Door Conversion
If you have a window in the perfect spot for a new door, we can help. Window-to-door conversion is the best way to add a new exterior door to an existing home design. From sliding glass doors to custom narrow doors, we have the experience needed to turn your vision into reality.
Call (561) 914-4636 to ask how we can help.