A storm door protects your exterior door from bad weather and also provides ventilation. Most door manufacturers sell prehung doors in kits so installation is easy. The kits include all the hardware you need to install the door, such as hinges, pneumatic closers and latches. Choose a door based on your specific needs and the size and style of your house.
Storm Door Basics
Storm doors come with varying combinations of screen and glass panels. Many have removable panels that can be changed depending on the season. Along the bottom, most doors have a sweep — one or more flexible strips designed to keep moisture, dirt and outside air from entering your home.
If security is a concern, look for a model with protective grilles and deadbolt locks. Certain brands of storm doors have more security features than others. Additional safety features to look for are laminated security glass and a multipoint locking system.
Before you buy a storm door, check its components in the store. Open and close the door to make sure the hinges and latches operate smoothly. For long life, the components should be of the highest quality you can afford.
Fitting a Storm Door
Most storm door units can be adjusted slightly to fit into a door frame. The parameters for this adjustment vary by manufacturer, so ask a millwork associate at your local Lowe's for help determining the best size door for you.
Measure the height and width of your door frame carefully before you visit the store so you'll have the information to find the correct door size. Measure the space between the exterior brick mold trim pieces, not the inner door jamb.
If your opening is too big for a standard door, you can install a Z-bar extender — a device that fills in the extra space between the door and frame. Some homeowners find the look unappealing and prefer to order custom doors, which can be made to fit any size.
Before installing the door, inspect the wood jamb and trim around your door opening to make sure it's secure and will support the weight of your storm door. Use a level to make sure the door frame is square. If it isn't, use shims — pieces of wood or aluminum — to ensure a correct fit. A Z-bar extender can also be used to square an opening.
Storm Door Screens and Panels
If your storm door is exposed to direct sun, change over to screens early in the spring. Wait until the end of fall before putting the glass panels back on. The panels can act like a greenhouse, heating up the space between the two doors and causing weather stripping to deteriorate quickly. In extreme cases, the heat could warp metal house doors.
When choosing metal replacement screens, check with your dealer about the compatibility of the metal screens you want to buy with the metal of your door. In some cases, different metals in contact with each other will hasten corrosion.
- Screens made of galvanized steel are the least expensive and are highly resistant to holes and tears. But galvanized coating can wear off. A spray of household lubricant once a year helps prevent rust.
- Aluminum screens resist corrosion, except in seaside areas, but aren't as strong as galvanized steel. In areas with a lot of smog, aluminum tends to darken. Aluminum screens can be protected with commercial spray products.
- Bronze screens are the most durable, but also the most expensive. Use a thin coat of varnish to protect the screen against corrosion. Renew the coating every few years by painting or spraying with thinned varnish.
- Fiberglass screens resist corrosion and are easy to install, making them a practical replacement screen if a metal screen deteriorates.
Storm Door Closers and Door Stops
Most storm doors come with either a door closer or a door stop — both devices control how far your door will open.
- A door stop, also called a snubber, uses a chain attached to a spring to control the door. It's easy to install and adjust.
A pneumatic closer prevents a door from opening too fast or too far, and also closes the door slowly and firmly. A sliding washer can hold the door open — a handy feature when you're carrying packages. Most doors have one pneumatic closer, but some have two for extra protection against high winds. You can add a second closer if necessary.
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