How to Replace a Screen Door

A screen door is the outer door that protects a solid, main exit door in your home. The purpose of a screen door is twofold: it can let warm air in when you open the main exit door. Plus, it provides an effective barrier against bugs, insects, and varmints. It can even serve as a safeguard to keep human intruders out of your house, as long as you keep your screen door locked.

Just like every other moving part on your home, over time, this door is going to need to be replaced. Or, if your door is an older model, you might want to replace it simply to make your house look more attractive. Years ago, every screen door you saw on a house had a plain aluminum finish. They were silver in color and were rather dull. Today, though, the manufacturers of screen doors have come a long way in that they now offer a variety of colors to choose from.

In my case, the screen door on my kitchen exit was so old that it was made of wood instead of metal. The wood was dry and cracked. Not only did it look tacky, but it did a poor job of keeping creatures outside where they belong. If you’re handy with home repairs, you can easily perform this task yourself and have it done in an hour or so. You’ll achieve a sense of accomplishment if you replace the door yourself. And, you’ll be able to keep some extra money by not having to pay an installer.

The first step in this project is to don your protective safety glasses or goggles. Then, read the manufacturer’s instructions that came with the replacement door. You’ll need to remove the existing screen door, of course. Start with the pneumatic door closer. (My door was so old that it didn’t even have one! It had a piece of metal link chain screwed onto the door and the frame.) You’ll probably need to use a straight tipped or a Phillips screwdriver to loosen the screws. If you have one, a battery-powered screwdriver will help complete this task faster. Once the pneumatic door closer is removed, enlist the help of another person to hold the door while you unscrew the hinges.

Here’s a tip you can use when you’re removing the screws: remove the top ones first, then the bottom ones. Remove the screws that are located in the middle of your screen door last. This way, the door won’t flop back and forth while you’re trying to work with it.

Next, remove all of the packaging from the replacement screen door. It’s a good idea to dry fit it in the frame first before you install it. Just double check to make sure you purchased the right size. (You should have measured the frame, and NOT the door before you made a trip to the local home supply store.) Check to make sure it fits the opening properly. That is, it should just fit inside the frame. If you notice any spots where the door rubs on the wooden frame, you can sand these areas down so your new screen door will open and close smoothly.

Set the back edge of the replacement screen door inside the doorway so it sets straight in the frame. Then, have your assistant hold the door open while you align the new hinges up to the existing holes. (I chose not to use the screws that came with the replacement door. Instead, I purchased some screws that are a tad longer than the old ones. The longer screws hold the door on a bit more securely.) Then, use a screwdriver and secure the middle hinge in place. Move up to the top hinge, and then to the bottom one.

Note: If you can’t use the old hinge holes, you’ll need to measure and mark the locations of the new holes in the hinges onto the door frame. Use an electric drill to make starter holes for the screws. Then, proceed as normal. Finally, install the pneumatic door closer onto the door and the frame. After it’s in place, you may need to adjust it so the door closes as quickly as you want it to. Then, check to make sure your new screen door swings freely, and that it closes completely.

Many manufacturers include a toll free number to reach their help line along with their instructions. If you can run into problems with the installation, you can give them a call for further detailed advice.

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