What Is a Storm Door and How Do I Install One?

If you live in a city that typically sees a lot of storms, like Fort Myers, FL or Abbotsford, BC, installing a storm door can provide added security, protection, and insulation for your home. More so, it can extend the life of your door, provide relief from the sun, and keep unwanted pests from entering. While storm doors have been around for a while, technological advancements have allowed storm doors to fit the needs and wants of homeowners. 

If you’ve considered installing a storm door or are just hearing about it for the first time, read on to determine whether a storm door is right for you and how to install one.

A gray house with a storm door

What is a storm door?

A storm door is a second, outward door that’s installed at the front of an exterior access door used to protect your home from bad weather. Typically, they are made of aluminum and have foam insulation at the center. For security, they can be made with laminated security glass and a multipoint locking system.

Do I need a storm door?

A sturdy storm door can add an extra weather barrier to your home and protect your entry door. Before you install a storm door, consider: 

Your local climate – If your exterior door is exposed to the elements like rain, snow, sleet, hail, or extreme temperatures, a storm door may protect your door. However, if you live in a warmer climate, you may not need such protection.

Your exterior door’s insulation – You may not want or need a storm door if you have a well-insulated exterior door. 

Choose the right storm door for you

There are many design options when choosing a storm door. Most storm doors include interchangeable or retractable glass and screen panels while some door styles allow you to remove the glass panel used in the winter and replace it with a screen for warmer weather. A self-storing storm door comes equipped with a screen that rolls up or down to offer summer ventilation or protection from cold weather.

a blue house with beautiful shrubs and a storm door

Measure and order your storm door

First, select and install a storm door, take measurements and determine which way the door will open.

To measure the height:

  1. Measure the distance from the top of your door frame to the bottom.
  2. Measure on the right, in the middle, and on the left to account for any variance.
  3. Use the smallest number.

To measure the width:

  1. Measure across the door opening, 6 inches down from the top of the frame.
  2. Measure 6 inches at the center, across the door opening.
  3. Measure across the door opening, 6 inches up from the bottom of the frame.
  4. Use the narrowest width.

Order a storm door that fits those measurements, or have one custom-made if you have a non-standard door opening. 

How do I Install the rain cap or drip call?

When your new door arrives: 

  1. Install the rain cap or drip call along the top of the door frame. Then, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, attach it with a screw on the hinge side. 
  2. Attach the Z-bar on the hinge side of the door, again according to the instructions. Mark the top with tape. 
  3. Measure the height of the door opening. 
  4. Measure from the underside of the top Z-bar to the top of the sill. 
  5. Use these measurements to mark a cutoff line on the hinge-side Z-bar. 
  6. Use a hand saw or hacksaw to cut along the cutoff line with a slight slope to the exterior.

How do I install a storm door? 

Before installation, it’s best to have a partner assist you. 

  1. Close the storm door and put it into the opening. 
  2. Push the hinge side up against the door jam. Be sure that the side Z-bar touches the bottom of the top Z-bar. 
  3. Place a level on the hinge-side Z-bar and adjust the door until it is plumb and level. 
  4. Secure the door with screws. 
  5. Open the door and use the remaining screws to secure the hinge-side Z-bar, then adjust the top Z-bar. Be sure to leave an even 1/4-inch gap between the bar and the door. Screw-in the Z-bar. 
  6. Check to make sure the door opens and closes freely. Make adjustments if necessary. When everything works smoothly, secure the storm door with the remaining screws. 
  7. Attach the remaining Z-bar on the latch side of the door, following the same directions as for the hinge side. Then install the handle, door sweep, and door closer. 

Installing a storm door can be a multi-step process. However, with the right tools and proper care, installing one can help you save money in the long run and keep your exterior door looking beautiful year-round.

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