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Install a New Combination Storm-Screen Door

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Step 2: Attachment Theory

With the door on hand, remove the storms and screens to lighten it. After removing the screws in the aluminum door frame, the old assembly should fall right off. Now prepare the opening. Strip off any existing door and frame and check that the opening is square and plumb. Don't assume you're lucky enough to have such an opening—check with a level!

Hold the hinge-side frame in position and mark the height. The side frame should hold the top (head) frame close to the head jamb, with some clearance for vertical adjustment.

Our door frame was sold oversize, so we followed instructions and cut the hinge side to fit. If your opening is regular, both side frames will be the same length. Cut the side frame to length with a hacksaw. Cutting near the sawhorse reduces annoying vibration.

Position the hinge side and screw it to the jamb. Drill before the first few screws so the door doesn't move. Remove the glass and screen to reduce weight—and the chance of disaster!

Screw the hinge, which came mounted on the hinge-side frame on our door, to the door. With the door in place, screw your way across the top frame and down the latch side. To reinforce the hinges, screw through the hinge side frame sideways. Always check for an even gap between the frame and the door. Test that the door swings freely.

Slip the expander over the door bottom so the door will glide over the threshold while still sealing out the outdoors.

Step 3: A Little Hardware and You're Done!

With the door frame attached and the door moving freely, turn your attention to hardware, starting with the door latch. Tape the latch template to the door at a comfortable height where it will not interfere with the doorknob.

The template is marked on both sides, because it's more accurate to drill from both sides. To prevent the drill from wandering, indent the door at the marks with a center punch or a big nail.

Stick the rectangular latch bar through the door to connect the inside and outside handles, and screw the latches together from inside.

Before mounting the striker, check that the shims push the striker out far enough to catch the latch. If the supplied shims are too thin, cut more from plywood or paneling.

Screw the door closer bracket to the jamb, following instructions. Then screw the other bracket to the door. Put the closer in place, restore the glass and screens, and adjust the closer screw to control closing speed.

The safety chain prevents wind from ruining your new door. The spring prevents the safety chain from snagging your hair. Mount the spring so it retracts the chain; no tape measure needed!

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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.

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