Screen & Storm Doors
Our grandfather built the home we grew up in at the turn of the century. In keeping with the style of construction for that era, the rooms were spacious with high ceilings, the doors were solid wood, decorative wood and plaster trim adorned the walls and ceilings of most rooms and there were hardwood floors throughout.
A real beauty, our home could also be a quite a beast during the height of summer. We had all of the comforts of home except air conditioning – relief from the soaring temperatures that were commonplace for our climate. As kids we were somewhat put off by the fact that our friends who lived in more modern homes with air conditioning didn’t have to endure the sweltering summer nights.
How did we spell relief during those sultry summer nights – S-C-R-E-E-N-S! The screens that covered our windows and doors to allow the evening breeze in and to keep unwanted pests out. To our benefit, our home had more than its share of windows and doors.
For our home and other homes like it, window and door screens were standard equipment. And although window screens have always been popular, the use of screen doors is at an all-time high – air conditioning or not. Live in a cold climate? Kick it up a notch by adding windows to your screen door and you have the best of both worlds – a screen/storm door.
And window configurations aren’t what they used to be. You can now have a door that offers you full-view, high or low-view, self-storing, and triple-track – or a combination thereof.
A full view screen/storm door is, as the name suggests, all glass with no solid panels. One or both of the windows can operate. The high or low-view option includes a solid panel that can be alternated between the top and bottom of the door. In a self-storing door, the glass panels can be moved and hidden inside the solid door section – a nifty option! And for the crème de la crème, there is the triple-track door. This one does everything but wash your dishes. They are by far the most convenient year-round alternative. Again, as the name suggests, the opening has three tracks – one for each of the two half-height windows and a third for the screen. The beauty of this baby is that each can be independently positioned. Talk about convenience.
Natural light, ventilation, security, weather protection, energy efficiency, comfort and appearance are a few of the many benefits that a screen/storm door can offer.
Think about it. The average windowless exterior door accounts for about 20 square feet of area. A screen/storm door added to that opening can have a dramatic impact on the amount of natural light in that area.
The same goes for ventilation. More and more people are using screen doors to improve natural ventilation. Over time, windows in homes have dropped in size and quantity, thus making fresh air a precious commodity. A screen door can help win back a precious chunk of that lost air. A good-quality screen/storm door can be a year-round money saver by lowering cooling costs in the summer and heating costs in the winter.
Many people have resisted screen or screen/storm doors because of their appearance. There are more materials, styles and combinations to choose from than ever before. The screen door on our old family home consisted of a simple wood frame with galvanized metal mesh screen. While wood is still a popular choice, aluminum, steel, plastic and combinations of these materials join it. As an added bonus, some of the materials are insulated to improve energy efficiency.
Good old-fashioned clear glass is still standard on most screen/storm doors. However, if etched glass, stained glass or real hand-leaded glass tickles your fancy, you’re in luck as many manufacturers offer these glass upgrades.
Many people, especially seniors, are opting for a screen/storm door to tighten up security. If such is the goal around your house, don’t go for the cheapest. Look for a strong frame such as decorative wrought iron, bank vault-like deadbolt pins, heavy-duty keyed locks and nonremoveable-pin hinges. In all cases, look for the best warranty.
There is another benefit that you may not have considered. Installing a screen/storm door will increase the life of your primary door by providing weather protection.
Finally, when it comes to screen fabric, there are several choices. Vinyl is the least expensive and most prevalent. Galvanized, stainless steel and copper are available upgrades. If you have pets or an interest in heightened security, stainless steel is your best choice due to its strength and tear resistance.