Do you want to open up your view with a new sliding patio door? Do you want to create a new point of entry where a window currently exists?
Whether you want to turn your current windows into a new door or take an existing door and close the space with a window, any remodeling project comes with a list of considerations you must think about before any construction begins.
Turning a window into a door or vice versa requires an elite amount of skill.
Not only does the installer need to know how to remove and replace windows and doors, but they also must know how to properly construct a new frame and what to do if something unknown pops up behind the walls.
As a San Antonio remodeling expert since 1989, Southwest Exteriors has helped thousands of homeowners elevate their homes with high-quality replacement windows and doors from Marvin, Anlin, Vistamark, and more.
Because we are both window and door replacement specialists, we also offer construction and conversion services, including turning your windows into a new door, enclosing your patio space, or adding a new window where one didn’t used to be.
Now, we understand the intricate factors to consider before opening up your walls, from electrical units to plumbing to constructing a new frame. The last thing we want is for you to blindly start any project without knowing what to think about beforehand.
This article will outline eight things to consider before turning your windows into a door, turning a door into a window, or creating any new opening in your home.
Then, you will better understand what goes into your project, the scope of work required, and the proper next steps.
What Goes Into Turning An Existing Window Into A Door? 8 Things To Consider
Any renovation project, whether interior or exterior, requires adequate education and research - research on the right products, installation practices, and trustworthy companies in your area.
Opening up your home during construction can be nerve-wracking. If you or the contractor you hire don’t know what you are doing, you risk exposing your home to moisture infiltration, rot, and potential critters.
So, before starting your conversion project, you must consider a few things before starting any demolition, which we will outline here.
1. Internal Electrical and Plumbing Units
One of the first and most crucial things to consider before opening your walls up is if you have any electrical units or plumbing fixtures in the area you want to construct.
If plumbing and electrical wires and units run through the wall you want to construct or are stationed near the opening, a professional electrician and plumber must correctly rewire and repipe around your new opening.
Because this requires specific skill and knowledge, this consideration is not to be taken lightly. You must either hire a remodeling contractor with connections to trustworthy plumbing and electrical companies or find these companies yourself if you plan a DIY project.
If you know you have plumbing and electrical in the wall you want to expand and open up, this can deter you from constructing on these walls and cause serious problems if not handled properly.
It’s important to consider any electrical and plumbing units behind your walls before creating an opening and ensure if there are, you find the right people to work with to keep your home safe and ensure a successful outcome.
2. The Location of Your Windows, Doors, or New Opening
The second thing to consider before moving forward with any construction is the location of the existing windows or doors you want to convert or the wall you want to create an opening in.
You may be wondering, what do I have to think about? Doesn’t it just come down to the window or door I want to construct? What else is there to think about regarding the location?
Well, one important thing to consider about the location of your project, besides any electrical or plumbing, is its location to the sun.
If you have a smaller window you want to make larger or have a blank wall you want to add a window or door, you want to consider how much sunlight that particular area of your home gets regularly.
For example, when adding a large window to a wall where one does not exist facing the direction the sun rises, you want to consider how much new sunlight and heat will be entering your home. While, yes, most high-quality windows and doors are made with energy-efficient glass to protect your home from harmful rays, excess sunlight can still increase your home's temperature and potentially damage your carpet, furniture, and even your pets.
Adding or expanding a window in your home office or entertainment area may seem attractive to bring more light in and use less artificial light, but you want to consider the window’s placement to where you spend your time.
Will more sunlight cause a glare on computer or television screens? Will a new sliding patio door make your kitchen hotter in the evenings during sunset? These are just a few questions to consider.
3. The Products You Want
After considering the location of your new window or door in relation to plumbing, electrical, and solar heat, it’s time to think about the fun part: what new products you want in your home.
Shopping for new windows and doors can be overwhelming but also exciting. Newer products on the market are highly customizable, allowing you to create the perfect window or door to fit your home seamlessly.
For replacement windows, think about whether you want the window to be operable or fixed closed. Do you want it to slide up and down or left to right? Or do you want a crank window? Do you want decorative or tinted glass?
For replacement doors, consider the style of door you want. Are you interested in a sliding patio door, a bi-fold door, or double French doors? Do you want a simple exterior door for a new point-of-entry or a door that opens up your view more?
Customizing your new windows or doors is one of the most fun and exciting parts of your project.
Consider your wants, goals, and needs for your products, including what you want them to look like, how you want them to perform, and what you’re willing to pay.
4. Your Budget and Cost of the Project
Along with the type of product you want, like the style, material, and performance of your new window or door, you also want to consider the size of the product to better understand the full cost of your project.
The size of your product determines how much construction is required to remove and install the new window or door, as well as the cost of the product, installation, and labor.
The cost of any remodeling project is directly affected by the quality of the product and installation.
Before starting any conversion project, you must consider your project’s budget. To best determine your budget, think about the size and quality of products you want, the warranty you need, the quality of installation, and so much more.
Outlining your wants, goals, and needs for your project will help you to know what type of products you want, find the right contractor, and budget properly.
5. The Siding on Your Home
Constructing a new window or door in your home requires added work around the opening, including more than your standard trim work on a typical window or door replacement.
If you are expanding or shrinking a certain window or door in your home or creating a new opening, the wall must be reconstructed to fit the new products perfectly. This means constructing your wall's interior and exterior once the new window or door is installed.
You must consider the siding on your home to ensure you find a contractor that can properly match and reinstall the correct siding and interior walls to ensure a seamless outcome. This will also help you determine the difficulty of reconstructing the wall, whether you’re considering DIY or hiring a professional.
For example, finding the same brick to match your existing brick perfectly may be difficult if you have a brick exterior. If you have stone or brick siding, you must work with the right contractor who is skilled in mortaring brick and stone.
If you have fiber cement lap siding or shingle siding, you want to find the exact products used on your home to match both the style and color.
You also want to look at the interior of your wall and if you have any specialty moulding, paint, or wallpaper that must be matched.
Southwest Exteriors recently completed a window-to-door transformation where the homeowner had wall moulding in their living space. Our crews rebuilt the custom moulding around the new door to ensure it matches the existing moulding perfectly and looks like it was always there.
Before and after photos from the window-to-door transformation with custom moulding
Looking at the interior and exterior material of your walls will help you properly question potential contractors for their level of skill in installing your siding and the interior walls to ensure they provide a smooth and even outcome that elevates your home.
6. Obtaining Any Permits Necessary
Before starting any major construction on your home, the proper permits must be obtained to ensure the construction complies with local zoning laws and construction regulations.
It is important to acquire a permit if you plan to construct your new window or door yourself or check the contractor you work with has the appropriate permits for this construction.
If a permit is not obtained before starting your project, the city you live in may force you to tear down your new construction or issue hefty fines.
It is almost important to note that building permits are not free. They cost an average of $1,500 - $2,000. The hassle of obtaining a building permit and the permit fee may deter you from constructing your project yourself, as a professional contractor will take care of this for you.
Overall, acquiring a building permit is necessary when making any changes to your home’s structure to ensure you follow the proper codes, avoid fines, and build a successful project you can enjoy for years in your home.
7. DIY or Professional?
With any home remodeling project, from replacing your cabinets to installing a new water heater to replacing your windows, you most likely ask, “Can I do this myself?”
Considering whether you should do your project yourself or hire a professional is probably one of the first things you think of.
It’s true some projects are easily DIY-able, and it may be beneficial for you to do it yourself instead of hiring a contractor. However, when embarking on a large remodeling project, doing it yourself can pose some risks if not done properly.
Unless you have a wide variety of construction experience and have completed similar projects before, going into a large DIY project blindly can expose your home to moisture infiltration, compromising the structure of your home, and more.
DIY home remodeling projects should not be attempted if you have little to no experience in removing and replacing windows and doors, rebuilding door and window frames, and standard framing and caulking.
8. Finding the Right Contractor
After outlining your wants, goals, and needs for your project and narrowing down what products you are interested in, it’s time to consider what to look for in the right contractor.
As we outlined in the section above, choosing the right company for your conversion project is crucial to ensure your new windows and doors are installed properly, the structure of your home is protected, and your products will last.
To find the right contractor for your project, you need to know what to look for and what questions to ask. Knowledge is your biggest defense mechanism against a faulty contractor trying to take advantage of you.
Some questions that are crucial to ask a potential contractor are
How long have you been in business locally?
What products do you offer, and what are their features?
What warranty do you offer?
What is your installation process like?
What caulking and paint products do you use?
How often will you communicate with me about my project?
Asking questions like this will help you to determine the quality of the potential contractor and avoid choosing a company that doesn’t know what they are doing.
Starting Your Conversion Project Right
Now that you know eight things to consider before starting your window-to-door project, you have a better idea of what products you are interested in, what to look for in a potential contractor, and what goes into the proper installation for this type of construction.
Whether you plan to turn your current windows into a new sliding patio door, close your door and turn it into a fixed window, or add a new opening to an existing wall, knowing all that goes into this type of project is crucial.
When searching for the right products and services, remember to consider
Electrical and plumbing units in your walls
The potential location of the new windows and doors
What products are you interested in
The overall cost and budget for your project
The siding on your home
Obtaining proper permits for the project
Whether you want to DIY this project or hire a professional
What to look for in a potential contractor
By taking these eight things into consideration, you are sure to find the right products for your home and choose the best contractor to provide you with a successful outcome.