By James Allen

Walker of Prestwick, Scotland
I am having french doors put in that go out to a decking area. The question is, should the doors open out onto the decking or in to the house? I have a disagreement with my builder and would like to know what the majority of people do.

I think they should open out to the decking.

They typically open inward, and are engineered with that in mind.

Betty of Burke VA:
I'm looking to replace my sliding glass patio doors with double hinged french doors. I want maintenance free. Standard size ( 72 x 80.), no grids. I'm confused as to what material is best - vinyl, fiberglass, or aluminum clad. I've heard fiberglass is the best, then vinyl and then aluminum. I think I've pretty much ruled out steel or wood. Lowes has vinyl doors for $813, but then the aluminum clad are over $1000. Surfing the web hasn't helped much.

For Frenchwood type doors, my money is on Anderson. Ive put quite a few in, and never had a problem. Great locking hardware, too. Im sure there are other good brands. Im just not familiar with them. Most window and door contractors will push what they like, because of quality or price. The Anderson style may not meet your requirements. Try contacting as many contractors as you have time for, and see what shakes out, in terms of majority preference.

Thanks so much for your reply. I've started doing just that - finding reliable contractors, through friends and neighbors, and getting estimates. It's never easy, is it? I've had the whole kitchen redone and hardwood floors put in and the process of finding good people that do what they promise plus sifting through materials available is exhausting.

Thanks again - the Consumer Affairs website is one I visit often.

Linda of St. Louis:
I live two blocks from a highway and had old aluminum windows. I bought Alside Ultra Max windows for my house -- 9 windows. Four have argon gas and five don't. I was told by the contractor and Alside that the gas was to block sun not reduce noise. There would only be a 5% difference in noise level. My entire house is noisier now than with the aluminum windows.

It is so much louder in the bedrooms that I have to wear earplugs. I have complained several times but told me I must be a light sleeper. Have you heard of these windows before -- it is supposed to be their best. Is there supposed to be insulation around windows before installing or something that could be wrong? Of course, their warranty doesn't cover noise.

A tough position to be in. You need more info. Call the manufacturer and speak to someone in technical service. Also, Google your product and look for reviews. And you can try the BBB.

Dayi of Paramus NJ:
For replacement window products, vinyl windows are common. There is another material used for replacement windows is called "GELOY, ASA Resin", by GE Plastics. This is used by US Window Factory. How do you compare these two materials? What's the pros and cons? Is this material safe for home? US Window Factory said that this is better than vinyl, is it true? Thanks.

Who knows? If its a new product, your guess is as good as mine. Plain and simple: I stick with tried-and-true materials that have an established track record, unless there is an ironclad, comprehensive guarantee.