Screen door installation is possible for any do-it-yourself

March 14, 2009|By PAT LOGAN / Creators Syndicate

Dear Pat: Now that our dog has moved on to the big kennel in the sky, I want to replace the back screen/storm door. What is the best type to get, and do I need a professional to install it? - Lynn G.

Dear Lynn: A dog can certainly do a lot of damage to a screen door. If you get another dog after you install your new screen/storm door, consider installing pet-resistant screening. The super-tough, dense polymer screening is resistant to the wear and tear caused by a dog but still allows a gentle breeze to flow through.

Every town has several screen/storm door companies that make and install their own doors. Some companies sell doors from major manufacturers and have catalogs on hand from which you can select a door that suits your taste. You can also go to any home center store and buy a door to install yourself.


Nearly all exterior doorframes are of a standard size, so you should have little trouble finding one that works with your house.

Even if you are an inexperienced do-it-yourselfer, installing a screen/storm door should not challenge your skills. The key to a simple installation is purchasing a high-quality door. It is worth any added expense, because they use stronger, more rigid frames that make installation easier.

A strong, triple-track screen/storm door is your best bet. It has a separate track for each half-pane of glass and a third track for the screen. Each can move independently or be removed. Sliding down the top pane a little and raising the lower pane a little during warmer months allows for natural ventilation. Aluminum triple-track doors are also thicker and more rigid. Many major window companies offer a line of triple-track doors.

Because your primary door provides the majority of the insulation value and airtightness, the core material of the screen doorframe is not as important. Also, the door is mostly glass or screen. Choosing a door with a solid core material gives it a substantial feel and sound when it closes.

First, you must remove the old door. It is a good idea to have a helper for this when you remove the frame screws on the hinge side. This keeps the door from falling on you when you get to the last few screws and reduces the possibility of damaging the wood in the entryway.

Before installing the new door, read the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Most doors can be installed for either right or left hinges. Lay the door down with the proper side facing up and install the hinge-side mounting frame. If the door is upside down, you will end up installing the hinge frame on the wrong side.

There is usually one hole drilled in each side as a locator hole. Attach the mounting frame to the door with just that one hole and center punch the locations for the remaining holes. Double-check to make sure the frame did not shift from the time that you marked the initial hole location.

Remove the mounting frame and drill the holes into the edge of the door. Use the recommended size drill bit so the screws bite into the aluminum skin as well as the solid core. When a big wind catches the door, you do not want it to fly off somewhere into your backyard.

Have your helper hold the door with the mounting frame in the entryway opening. Mark the locations of the holes in the entryway frame, pre-drill and screw the frame in place. Attach the top mounting frame and finally the latch-side mounting frame. There is usually a drilling template enclosed for mounting the latch hardware.


o Tape measure

o Hacksaw

o Utility knife

o Hammer

o Cordless drill and bits

o Pliers

o Phillips and slotted screwdrivers

o Screen door

o Caulk

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit

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