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Installing a Storm Door

By Edited Jan 3, 2015 1 0

Storm doors provide many benefits such as insulating and weatherproofing any exterior door, improving the appearance and curb appeal of your home, adding years of life to the finish of your door by protecting it from the elements, as well as providing additional security. Many storm doors have durable, high quality locking mechanisms so an intruder must get through two doors to get in the house, increasing the time it takes them to get in the house.

Adding one to your home will require basic carpentry skills and take about an hour if it is your first time, less if you are experienced in DIY projects.

When selecting a storm door, there are a few things you need to look at to get a solid fit. For starters, look for one that has a solid inner core and a seamless outer shell.

However, before you head off to the store, you need to examine your existing door. If it juts out beyond the trim ever so slightly, you will have to do a little more custom work before hand to get it ready to accept a storm door flush against the trim.

Measuring for a Storm Door

Take off the trim and replace it with a new layer of wood that is thick enough so that the door no longer juts out past it once you add the trim back on. Then replace the trim by nailing it to the wood you just put in place. This is an important part of the installation, however, do not become discourage if it is not perfect.

Next, be sure to measure the opening for the door accurately. Storm door frames have the ability for small accommodations to the existing door opening. To get the most accurate measurements, find the dimensions from the inside edges of the entry door’s brick or siding molding. Then subtract ¼ inch from the width of the opening to get an approximate storm door size.[1] If there are slight differences in the measurements can be accounted for when you actually install the door frame.

Most doors have the ability to open to either side simply by installing the hinges to one side or the other, similar to the way older single door refrigerators used to be made.[1] Obviously when you install it, you want to make sure the hinges are on the same side as those on the entry door. You are not trying to create an awkward maze to get into your home.

Because most contain a lot of glass along with the weather stripping sealing the inside around the door, heat can build up between the storm door and the exterior door. While this is not an issue in the winter, the heat building up inside the small area can potentially damage the plastic trim on entry doorways.

For that reason, look for manufacturer suggestions regarding this type of situation especially if your exterior door is exposed to the direct afternoon sun when heat build-up will be at its peak.

Leslie Locke 50732X80W Laguna 32-Inch-by-80-Inch Security Storm Door, White
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Often times little things like storm doors and motion activated lighting are enough to discourage would be robbers.

Installing a Storm Door

The installation process will vary by door manufacturer so be sure to read the instructions that come with the door. However, the basics are the same for every installation. For this project, you will obviously need a new storm door, some wood spacer strips and casing nails to secure the it in place to the wood frame.

  1. To start off, some manufacturers require a drip cap to be installed first. Others let you do
    Install Storm Door
    that later. Again, follow the instructions provided.  For this discussion, we will install the drip cap now screwing it in place at the top of the frame using a power drill.
  2. Find the Z channel piece that goes on the frame. This is the piece attached to the frame that is marked for the hinges.  Put the channel against the opening on the side of the door where you want the hinges to go, the mark the top a the z channel with tape.
  3. Subtract 1/8 inch from the distance between the doorsill and the top of the opening, then draw a line this distance from the top of the Z channel.
  4. Cut the Z channel along the line you just marked using a hacksaw.
  5. Position the channel against the hinge side of the door so that it extends about 1/8 of an inch above the top of the door so it will clear the drip cap you installed earlier.
  6. Attach the Z channel to the door using the screws provided. Typically the screws are already screwed into the door so simply removed them, then use them to secure the channel.
  7. Place the storm door in the doorway with the Z channel tight against the top.
  8. Using a 48” level, make sure the door is plumb.
  9. At this point, it is a lot easier to have a helper with you because you need to drive a couple of screws to hold the channel in place.
  10. Check to make sure  it opens and closes cleanly.
  11. If necessary, adjust the channel. When everything is right, drive the remaining screws to secure the channel in place.
  12. Now you have to cut the latch side Z-channel just as you did in step number 3. Measure
    Install Storm Door
    the same distance, then cut with a hacksaw.
  13. Place the channel in the opening tight against the drip cap and adjust it so there is a gap between the channel and the edge of the door. Screw it in place.
  14. Most brands come with either a wide strip sweep or a U-channel with weather stripping on the bottom. In either case, read the directions.  Some require that you install it before hand so take note of the type of sweep you have when you begin.
  15. Set the handles and locks in place. Most holes are predrilled.
  16.  Install a hydraulic door closer which controls how fast it will close behind you. Again, installation varies by manufacturer so following their directions.

Installing a Storm Door

How to Hang a Storm Door

Install Storm Door
Credit: mjpyro


Most people can have this done in about an hour.  There is nothing especially hard about this project, nor do you need an extensive collection of tools to finish the job.

Before you decide on the  model you want, do some research online and take note of how your entry way faces the sun if you are purchasing an all glass model. The are many different types to choose from, but make sure the one you choose fits the style of your home and accomplishes what you want, whether more security, curb appeal or weather proofing.



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  1. Andrew Wormer Windows and Doors: Expert Advice from Start to Finish (Taunton's Build Like a Pro). Newton : Taunton Press, 2002.

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