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Install a New Combination Storm-Screen Door

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Storm doors may try to put on airs, but their basic job is simple: keeping out airs—and other annoyances, like mosquitoes. If your storm door is AWOL, bandaged with duct tape, or swinging in the breeze, attaching a new aluminum door is one of the simplest home improvements imaginable. You'll need an electric drill and a few hand tools; but unless the doorway is savaged or seriously out-of-square, it's a one-afternoon project, and a short one, at that.

Aluminum storm doors are sold hinged to an aluminum frame, painted white or whatever other color happens to be trendy. The door should come with instructions, which helps because you may have to adjust the following process to mount your particular door.

Step 1: Choosing a Storm Door

Building Smarts

It's a rare doorway that is not marred by signs of old hinges or hardware. With the storm door removed, it's relatively easy to make repairs. To fill an old mortise for a hinge or a door latch, using a filler like Plastic Wood, and follow these steps:

  1. Scrape and gouge to remove loose and protruding junk, and improve the filler's grip.

  2. Apply enough filler to fill the bulk of the mortise. Don't worry about getting it level.

  3. Briefly sand to make sure nothing builds above the final surface level.

  4. Add more filler.

  5. Sand with a sanding block or power sander to make everything flush.

  6. Prime and paint.

Durability, appearance, and a good seal are the three considerations in choosing a door. Although storm doors are pretty basic, you may have some choices, especially in the upper price ranges:

  • Whether to buy a wooden-core door, which is stronger, quieter, and more costly

  • Where the door will store the glass in summer

  • Whether to spring for a spring-loaded, retractable screen, which will improve your winter view (but be another part to break down the line)

Size is critical. Most doors fit an opening that is between 80" and 81", or 84" and 85" in height, by 32" or 36" wide. If you need a custom size, expect to spend a fortune, and to wait while your door is made. Also decide if you need a “hinge-right” or a “hinge-left” door—depending on where the hinge is when you pull the door toward you—in this case, when you're standing outside the house.

Almost all aluminum storm doors are surface-mounted, meant to be screwed to the outside face of the door opening (generally the jamb edge, although this can vary). The beauty is that the door need not exactly fit the opening. The opening does need a flat surface, at least 1" wide, on the top and both sides of the opening, for the screws to grab. If the jambs are recessed, as shown in the diagram, the flat parts of the recesses must be at least 1" wide.

Measure the horizontal gap between the brick mold at three places, and the vertical gap from the brick mold to the threshold in two places. Bring these dimensions, and the hinge-left or hinge-right information, to the store when you buy your door. (It doesn't hurt to demonstrate what you mean, because a hinge-left door is not the same thing as a “left-hand” door.)

Next: Page 2 >>

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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