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Screen & Storm Door Buying Guide

buying storm door screen door

When buying a new storm door or screen door, pay attention to the details.

This expert, unbiased guide will help you buy the best storm doors or screen doors for your home. Includes information on types, construction, and combination storm-screen doors.

Storm doors block drafts in the winter, helping to minimize energy loss. Many have clip-in tempered glass panels you can remove and replace with insect screen panels for summer. In addition, storm doors protect the main door from rough weather, and newer models are so attractive they can add to your home’s curb appeal.

Following are the key factors to consider before buying a new storm door.

Sizes & Configurations

Both storm and screen doors come in standard door widths of 30, 32, 34, and 36 inches and may be hinged on either side. (When buying one, be sure you get the right size; measure the door’s opening between the door jambs, not the door itself.) Most storm doors are sold as pre-hung units. They may be hinged on either side, and double-door kits are available. These pre-framed modules are relatively easy to screw onto existing door jambs; a do-it-yourselfer with reasonable skills can generally install one in an afternoon.

The major manufacturers also offer design-your-own-door programs, where you can mix and match components. Larson’s Designer Door series lets consumers pick the frame and its color and then choose from six styles of glass and six styles of designer hardware. You leave the store with three boxes: door frame, glass, and hardware. Both Cole Sewell and EMCO have similar programs.

Storm Door Windows & Screens

When choosing a storm door, one of your first choices will be the type and size of window and screen system. Many are made so that you can interchange the clip-in glass panels with insect screening. Some have panels that bypass each other in tracks. Still others are made so that the unused panel stores in the door. EMCO has a patented self-storing window that easily slides down inside the door, out of view.

A full-height glass panel is best if you want to display your front door or maximize light and views through the storm door. More common is the mid-view type of door that has a solid panel at the bottom third of the door; this gives you more ventilation control because you can open or close each section independently. A high-view door is similar, but the glazed section only extends to about half the door’s height.

Combination Storm and Screen Door   ©HomeTips

Storm Door Construction

Another key consideration is the door’s construction. All major storm-door makers produce doors that have a solid-wood core clad with a permanently bonded skin of aluminum that has been given a baked-on enamel finish. The wood core makes these doors feel sturdy; they don’t twist, rattle, or dent. The aluminum surface is nearly maintenance-free but it can scratch.

A newer technology is a composite door called the Forever Ultra-Core, made by EMCO. The material is very tough, with a molded-through color, so if the door is scratched the color still remains. The door is also impervious to water. This door ranges in price from $155 to $190.

Larson also makes a 1 1/2-inch heavy-gauge foam-filled aluminum door called Classic View that is lighter in weight and allows for a full-frame glass panel—a good choice if you want to show off your prime door. If you want the storm door to be the main focus, it’s offered in eight colors. You can get it with any of several glazings and fitted with solid-brass levers and keyed locks. These doors cost from $200 to $250.

Vinyl-clad doors tend to be less expensive—in the $75 to $150 range. Some people like the fact that vinyl doesn’t rust and scratches barely show. On the other hand, vinyl doesn’t have the durable feel of aluminum cladding, and vinyl-clad doors are often warrantied for only five years or less.

If security is an important issue, you’ll want to opt for substance over style. Security doors often have a heavy-duty aluminum frame with a foam or solid-wood core. Choose heavy-gauge aluminum bars, designed to withstand pulling forces greater than 250 pounds or—better yet—steel bars that have been welded in place. Hinges and deadbolts should be tamper-proof.

Storm Door Buying Tips

Storm doors are sold through home centers, lumberyards, and major home improvement chains. You can also look up door and window companies online or in the telephone directory. In all but the warmest regions, large chains typically have a broad selection, often 20 to 25 models on display and then additional offerings through catalogs. Larson offers its entire line in a point-of-purchase display and promises delivery of special orders in two weeks or less.

How do you recognize a quality door? First, feel the door, and feel how it opens and closes. A quality door will have more heft, it will close more smoothly, and you will see quality of construction. The corners and moldings will be tight and finished looking. Also pay attention to the warranty; the best doors have a limited lifetime warranty.

If you know the brand of exterior door in your home, check to see if the manufacturer also provides a door kit for storms and screens. This is an especially good idea if you have a sliding or French door. The kit will match the design of the door and will fit properly over the threshold.

NEXT SEE: Combination Screen & Storm Doors

About Don Vandervort
Author Image
Don Vandervort developed his expertise more than 30 years ago as Building Editor for both Sunset Books and Home Magazine. He has written more than 30 home improvement books and countless magazine articles. He appeared regularly on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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7 Comments

  1. I have a 145-lb Newfoundland who’s hard on a screen door. I’d like to buy one that isn’t actually a security door, but can withstand him. I bought pet screening, but he crumbled the aluminum frame. Does anyone make screen frames out of steel (or titanium)?

    Reply
    • Yes ProVia Door makes a stainless steel screen that is guaranteed to be impervious to large dogs.
      Their door is called DURAGUARD. I bought one 2 years ago and my large dog (100+) can’t make a dent in it. Look for a ProVia dealer in your area. You will be pleased.

      Reply
  2. Can a screen door be installed on an aluminum frame?

    Reply
    • The answer is yes…but the method may involve a little bit of invention. The screws holding the hinges need to have solid purchase in the framing members.

      Reply
  3. Beware these aluminum clad “wood” doors. The wood is particle board. Why would anyone make a storm door out of particle board? They don’t seal it in any way, it gets wet between the aluminum cladding and boils and blisters the aluminum and looks terrible in just a few years. I have two Larson’s and they were horrible doors almost from the start. I’ve seen reviews and EMCO is the exact same way. When your storm door needs a storm door, you bought the wrong door.

    Reply
  4. I have a question about storm door handle sets. I’m getting a Pella Venetian storm door with the built in Venetian blind and I’m trying to decide between 2 different Ideal Security storm door handles, model SK1215SC with a lever handle and deadbolt but without a locking latch or model SKDXSS with a pull handle and locking latch. I can also get an add on deadbolt with the second option which is model SK703SS. I like the idea of a locking latch but I’m not sure which type of handle is preferable on a storm door, the lever handle or the pull handle. Do you have any advice? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  5. Can you use a storm door in the place of a exterior door? We would like the door going out to our pool deck to have something like the drop down screen on it to allow air flow through the house. Or are storm doors only meant to supplement existing exterior doors?

    Reply

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