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A storm door protects your exterior door from bad weather and provides ventilation. Most manufacturers sell prehung doors in kits, so installation is easy. Choose a door based on your specific needs and the size and style of your house.
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.
Storm doors are typically made up of three layers — the front and back layers are an aluminum skin, and the center is foam insulation.
If security is a concern, look for a model with protective grilles, laminated security glass and a multipoint locking system. This system is typically comprised of three locks -- a bolt that secures in the door jamb, as well as hooks at the top and bottom of the frame.
Before you buy a storm door, check its components in the store. Open and close the display model to make sure the hinges and latches operate smoothly. For long life, the components should be of the highest quality you can afford.
Storm doors come in two standard sizes — 32 inches for back doors and 36 inches for entry doors. There are 30-inch storm doors, but these aren't common and are usually found in older homes (pre-1980s). Most units can be adjusted slightly to fit on top of a door frame. 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. Take the width measurement at the top, center and bottom, measuring the space between the exterior brick mold trim -- not the inner door jamb.
Before installing, inspect the wood jamb and trim around your door opening. The door will screw into the outer casing, so it needs to be solid to support the weight of your storm door. Use a level to make sure the door frame is plumb and the top level. A Z-bar extender can also be used to square an opening.
Most door manufacturers will offer a kit that includes all of the hardware needed for installation including the prehung door (includes the door and the frame), handle set, hinges, pneumatic closers and latches. Depending on which way your door opens, any storm door can be hinged to the left or right.
There are several customizations that can be made to complement your home's exterior.
Frame & Glass
Frames come in different styles, including full-view, mid-view, and high-view. Full-view doors offer different types of glass, such as beveled, waterfall, as well as the option to have blinds between the panes.
You can also upgrade to a Low-E high performance glass. Low-E provides better insulation and reduces fading. Some states offer tax credits when purchasing an energy-efficiency product. Check the Department of Energy's website for savings in your area.
Refer to the image to see some of the frame and glass selections that are available. For additional types, ask a Lowe's associate for details.
Storm doors come in a variety of colors. White and almond are available for purchase in the store. Other colors including taupe, brown, black, cranberry and green can be ordered.
Handle sets are available in several different finishes including brushed nickel, satin nickel, brass, antique brass, aged bronze and matte black.
There are three types to choose from: full-view, retractable and standard. Full-view includes separate glass and screen panels that are switched out as needed. When not in use, a retractable screen hides in the top of the door. Standard screens are fixed and the glass panels slide up and down.
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Tired of opening the door to let Fido in or out? Lowe's offers a built-in pet door option.
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.
Most storm doors come with either a 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 moving several loads of items into or out of the house. 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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Your storm door may just need a simple tune-up to be good as new. Watch our DIY Basics video: How Do I Adjust My Storm Door?