In a previous article, I told you how to remove your old sliding glass door in preparation for the installation of the vinyl replacement door. Let's go through the installation procedure for both the Retrofit style and replacement style frames.
Let's start with the retrofit frame. Like the retrofit window, the door will have a 2" lip flush with the outside edge of the frame. The difference between the retrofit window frame and the retrofit door frame is the absence of the lip on the bottom of the door due to the sill track. Your door will have the lip on both sides and across the top. The majority of the installation process is the same whether it's a retrofit frame or replacement frame. The first thing you want to do is check the floor for a level condition. If the base is not level, add shims to create a level base. This step is very important, because if you have a sloping bottom, the whole frame will be thrown out of square. You will have problems locking the door as well as air infiltration trouble. So, put down shims to make the base level. If possible, use one long shim to create a solid base for the weight of the door. Before setting the door in place, put down 2 beads of liquid nails from end to end over the shims. Put one bead towards the inside of the track and one towards the outside. Then run a generous bead of caulk on the outside face of the opening, where the retrofit lip is going to contact the exterior surface. Caulk the sides and the top.
Now set the door in place, being careful to lift the door and set the bottom track on top of the shims, rather than dragging the bottom. Obviously, this requires two people, one on each side. You tilt the top away from the opening as you set the bottom in place. Then, raise the top until the retrofit lip contacts the exterior surface where you applied the caulk. The reason I use liquid nails on the bottom rather than caulk is because I don't like to put screws in the bottom, and the liquid nails product is as good as screws when it dries. Have your helper hold the frame in place while you go inside to plumb and secure the door. Put a level on the jamb where the slider will lock. Plumb the jamb and install shims where you put your screws. You should put one screw about 6 inches from the top and one 6 inches from the bottom. A good quality door will have long screws shipped with the door that are replacements for the small screws holding the locking hardware to the jamb. Be sure to shim where these screws install. Now, if you leveled the bottom and plumbed the side, your top and opposite side should automatically be square. Put shims on the opposite jamb, and drive in your installation screws. Put 3 to 4 screws in the jamb. Then, run your tape measure from the top right corner to the bottom left corner. Write down that measurement. Measure from the opposite corners, and the measurement should be within 1/8" if your frame is square. Finally, put one screw in the top center. You really don't need any more than one. You don't need to use shims since there won't be any load or torque on the top header. Just don't over tighten the screw, otherwise the frame will bow.
At this point you should have the frame installed in the opening with the fixed panel already glazed in from the factory. Here is where you want to install the sliding panel. It goes in from inside the house. Set it on the side and spray a generous amount of lubricant to the steel rollers to help them spin freely. Wipe away excess before putting the panel in. Remember to raise the top into the header as far as it will go, then swing the bottom over the lip and set it down on the track. If the bottom won't get over the bottom lip, you will have to adjust the bottom rollers to bring them up into the frame. You should see a hole on the side rail to insert a screwdriver and turn the adjustment screw counterclockwise to bring the rollers up and out of the way. After you set the rollers on the track, be sure to adjust them back down before sliding the door. Have your helper lift the side up while you turn the adjustment screw clockwise. Do both sides, then slide the door closed and check for equal daylight from top to bottom. If there is more daylight showing on top or bottom, adjust the rollers to bring the door panel plumb with the jamb.
Adjust the lock. Each door should come with lock adjustment instructions. Install the screen door on the outside. Now seal the crack between the retrofit lip and the exterior surface. Go inside and fill the space between the frame and wall studs with R-13 insulation. The last step is trimming the inside. You will need wood or composite to bring the depth of the frame flush with the inside drywall. The frame depth of a vinyl door is usually less than the frame depth of the original aluminum door frame. After you install that trim, you can then add door casing around the opening.
Now, the replacement frame installation process is the same, except there is no retrofit lip. Therefore, when you put the frame into the opening, you have to plumb the side jambs from two places rather than one. In addition to plumbing the jamb left to right in the opening, you also have to plumb inside to outside because you don't have the retrofit lip to keep your frame aligned with the outside wall. Also, you need to apply trim to the exterior as well as the interior. You can use a basic vinyl flat trim for the outside, and that is available on the website, or you can use wood or composite material. Be sure to caulk the outside trim where it meets the surrounding surface. You just installed a vinyl sliding glass door.