Screen Doors That Do A Disappearing Act
Planning on adding a new screen door for your home? Or replacing an old one? Before you spend anywhere from seventy-five to possibly hundreds of dollars for a traditional framed and hinged “fixed” screen door you may want to consider the latest innovation that is sweeping (make that “screening”) the nation: retractable door screens.
Huh? Retractable screen door you say? It is just as its name implies. It is essentially a roller shade turned on end. Heavy duty vinyl-coated fiberglass mesh wraps around a spring-loaded roller mechanism, which is neatly concealed in a slim housing that is mounted on one side of the door opening. The other components consist of an upper and lower track in which the top and bottom edges of the screen travel and a rigid leading edge that pulls the screen taught and seals against the door jamb. The screen is held in the closed position by two or more magnets and catches placed on the leading edge and door frame respectively. From the outside, when in the “open” position, you’ll hardly even know it’s there. The full door-size screening simply rolls right up into a neat and compact side-mounted housing that blends right in with the existing doorframe.
In recent years, retractable screen doors have quickly gone from a one-time luxury item to being a serious consideration for any home. What’s fueling this screen door showdown? It’s due much in part to people who live in fresh-air-starved, energy-efficient homes where natural ventilation is at a premium. Often, opening a few windows here or there simply isn’t enough. Not to mention the fact that, in many homes, the entry door is frequently the only source of fresh air on a given side of a home. Thus, the only means of achieving good cross ventilation is to open the front door. Therein lays the problem.
A swinging screen door may be just fine on the back porch, but who in his right mind wants to conceal a beautiful new entry door with a screen door? Granted swinging screen doors, storm doors and security doors have come a long way – both in terms of appearance and integrity – in the last several years. But, no screen door can begin to compete with the beauty and curb appeal that a new entry door offers a home.
Among the most popular applications for a retractable screen door isn’t for one door, but rather for a pair of doors – French swinging or sliding — where appearance and view are both paramount. With this configuration, one roller housing is mounted at either side of the opening and the respective leaning edges of the screen meet in the middle to create one unobstructed and spectacular view.
The retractable screen door offers both form and function. People who are increasingly sensitive about indoor air quality and the appearance of their homes now have an alternative in a retractable screen door. By the same token, don’t expect a screen door (swinging or retractable) to keep out anything other than flying pests. If you do, you’ll be disappointed. Neither of these products is a reasonable alternative for a storm door or a bona-fide security door (complete with keylock and deadbolt).
There are other advantages, too. For one, it’s not in the way when you don’t need it. Ever try to hold the screen door open with your elbow while you unlock the front door – with your arms full of packages or groceries? In a rain storm? Ever dent or rip the screen in the process? You’ll never have to prop it open either – to move bulky items (like furniture or appliances) in or out. With a retractable screen in the “put away” position, bumping (which could result in screen damage) or door “interference” is never a problem.
And while in the “stored” position, the screening is further protected from destructive ultra-violet rays and needless year-round weathering as well. However, when you do need fresh air ventilation and a barrier between flying pests and your living area, all you do is pull the screening across the door opening – for a beautiful screened doorway with a panoramic top-to-bottom and side-to-side unobstructed view. No thick side framing or cross member supports as with traditional hinged screen doors.
While the popularity of retractable door screens continues to grow, so do the number of companies offering this technology – and today you have many choices. Basically, retractable door screens fall into two major categories: dealer installed products and “do-it-yourself” models. Considerations include quality materials, smart engineering, competitive pricing, and, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, ease of installation.
What’s more, if you like the look of an unobstructed view through your doors so much that you wish you could have the same for your windows, you’re in luck. Some retractable screen manufactures are producing retractable screens that can be installed on most windows.
And just when you thought life couldn’t get any better, you can now have a screened-in porch, Florida Room or Lanai as simply and easily as the flick of a switch with a power-driven retractable screen system. For those not suited for “electric-living” these oversized models can be operated with an old-fashioned turn crank. There’s more. Like to work or play in your garage during the warm weather but can deal with nagging flying insects? Yep, you got it, a retractable screen that is large enough to cover the average two-car garage door opening. Now that’s what we call living!
Today, for not much more than a quality traditional “hinged” screen door, you can have the convenience, beauty and satisfaction of being a homeowner with the latest “up-to-the-minute” technology for improved entry screening.