There are several manufacturers that carry aluminum-framed sliders that dovetail well into the door openings of Eichler and Streng homes. When replacing a slider, it's important to find a brand that can fit inside the existing door opening, thereby not impacting the aesthetic of the home.
Blomberg Windows Systems' doors and windows feature narrow aluminum frames and double-pane insulated glass that maintains the open look. "I prefer the Blomberg brand because the frame width fits the four-inch by four-inch post depth," says Calvert. "The Blomberg frames are three-and-five-eighths inches in depth, and you can trim the inside and outside to look like the original." Since Blomberg frames are only one-and-five-eighths inches wide, there's a large expanse of glass to let in daylight.
On average, Blomberg sliding door replacements cost $2,500 to $3,500 (including materials and labor), depending upon size and transom glass configuration.
"They are a little pricey, but they are worth the extra premium because they fit the Eichler look so well," Calvert notes. He recommends that homeowners replace the six-foot-tall slider and transom configuration with eight-foot-tall glass doors instead. "It's a clean, cool look—one that I have in my own home," he adds.
Most Streng homes were originally built with Blomberg sliders and glass, both of which allow for compatible upgrades, according to Ralph Blomberg, the company's owner.
"In these cases, you have no need to remove the existing perimeter frame and disrupt the exterior and interior wall finishes," says Blomberg. "The upgrade to dual-pane insulating glass becomes a simple process." New panels also come equipped with new rollers, weather stripping, and hardware.
Milgard Windows & Doors makes minimal-frame doors and windows that blend with modernist architecture, too. The 450-model sliding doors come thermally broken and have a tan, aluminum anodized, or bronze anodized finish. Low-E insulated glass helps reduce transmission of harmful UV rays and energy costs. A Milgard disadvantage is that their doorframes are five-and-one-quarter inches in depth, requiring them to be trimmed out beyond the original Arcadia openings, Calvert notes.
At the higher end, Bonelli Windows & Doors, based in South San Francisco, makes beautiful custom anodized aluminum sliders with a clear finish, bronze finish, or a powder coat that is available in a rainbow of hues.
Of course, contemporary versions of Arcadia sliders, the brand originally installed in Eichlers, are also available. Their sliders are shipped from the East Coast, and a contractor at the receiving end is needed to build a frame and assemble parts on site. Standard finishes include dark bronze anodized, clear anodized, painted white Duracron, and painted Quaker bronze Duracron.
Fleetwood Windows & Doors, which celebrates 50 years in business this year, has two aluminum sliding door products that also work well for the modernist look. The Norwood 3070 exterior multi-slide pocket door system and the Norwood 3000 traditional sliding door both come in four standard finishes, tan, clear aluminum and bronze, and a number of custom colors.
"Our vision is that people want product that's better rather than cheaper," says Fleetwood sales manager Mark McCoy. "We are going after the market that looks for something that is part of the architecture, and at windows as valuable." The company does have a budget pricing program, which allows homeowners, architects, and contractors to negotiate for a better price, but simple sliding doors could run $1,800.
For owners on a tighter budget, vinyl sliders are often a less expensive alternative to aluminum frame doors. Vinyl, also known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is a versatile plastic with good insulating value, high-impact resistance, and resistance to abrasion.
"It is not a secret, of course, that vinyl doors save much more energy than aluminum ones," says Sergiy Smelyansky, of Aurora Windows and Doors, a vinyl door and window manufacturer. Smelyansky also points out that, unlike most other vinyl door companies, Aurora can produce doors of any dimensions. "And we do not charge additional fees for non-standard doors," he says.
Because a vinyl door's color runs all the way through the material, there is no finish coat that can deteriorate or become damaged over time. Recent advances have improved PVC's dimensional stability and resistance to degradation from sunlight and temperature extremes.