Updated: Oct 12, 2016
Screen Door Reviews:
- What is a retractable screen door?
- Benefits of screen doors
- How much do screen doors cost? Which should I buy?
When the weather gets good and spring turns to summer, many people enjoy their backyards, patios, decks, and balconies. A screen door is an excellent feature to have on doors leading to the outside of your house. A screen allows you to let in the fresh air and still keeps bugs and insects out.
I grew up with a screen door that led from our laundry room to our backyard and my mom always used it. She could keep an eye on us kids and be able to hear our voices in case something was wrong. As a parent, I too enjoy using a new retractable screen door that goes from our kitchen into our yard where the kids can play and I can listen to them from the inside.
At night, we leave the main door open and use the screen door to cool down the house during the summer months. There are different types of screen doors, some are regular swinging doors on hinges while the newer models offer sliding screen doors that are fully retractable and disappear in their housing for safe storage. I like the clean look that you get with a retractable screen door, but there are some drawbacks to using them which we will go into down below.
The video below shows a retractable screen door installation:
What to look for in a screen door?
The traditional wooden or aluminum screen doors that rest on hinges are definitely more solid and durable than the retractable doors. You will also find screen doors made from fiberglass, steel, and vinyl. The steel replacement screens from Ritescreen at Home Depot sell for about $50.
The Larson retractable screen door goes for $170 but the installation may cost just as much depending on the doorway and fit. I bought the Larson retractable screen model from Home Depot and thought I could install it myself on my back door. The problems started right away because the door frame is not 'square' and the retractable framing would not fit properly.
I had a contractor friend come over with his co-worker to do the install after I failed at it. They shaved down the doorway a bit and made some other adjustments to get the screen door in. It took them over an hour to do and it still was not perfect, but at least it worked. I like the functionality of the door but the magnetic strip that help keeps the door closed is also very hard to undo at times.
My kids struggle just getting the retractable screen to open sometimes and closing it is not much easier. A regular screen door with hinges would probably be better if you have smaller kids. The door when closed is often hard to see in certain light and I've had some people walk right into it. My kids and neighborhood children have actually fallen through the door. The good thing is that the mesh screen will give a little and so when a child does fall into the door, it doesn't break.
If security is a concern, stick with the traditional storm doors that have a locking mechanism. Even some of the screen doors have locks on them, but if a burglar or thief wanted in they could easily slash the screening itself and get inside without a problem. Your local home improvement or hardware store should carry a variety of screen doors. I have seen them advertised at Lowes, Sears, and Home Depot. Pricing varies on style and design, but expect to spend about $100 and upwards of $275 for a quality product.
The doors are sold with basic installation guides but as we found out not all installs are the same. When in doubt, get a local door guy to install it so you know it will get done properly and last a long time. You can browse their most popular screen doors online here.
Best Screen Door:
One of the top manufacturers of doors in general is Andersen and we like the variety they offer at Stormdoors.com. The majority of the doors on the site are storm doors, but you can get a custom built door that offers an insect screen which comes in handy down in the south where mosquitoes are rampant.
Another popular screen door style are those that slide - you find them installed outside of sliding glass doors and they're great for getting a cross breeze through your house on hotter days. Often the sliding mechanism fails on these doors over time and they often need repairs or replacement. I always found that the aluminum framing would get bent and the door would stop sliding smoothly.
Go with a higher quality screen door if it will get a lot of use. If the weather is wet or windy, consider going with a storm door instead of the screen door for more protection. RECOMMENDED - See the top selling Larson retractable screen doors online here.
To check out how to use a Screen Door - click the image below to go to video.
Retractable Screen Door:
The Larson Illusions Retractable Screen ($168) sells at Lowes and fits up to 39" x 84". Be sure to measure your doorway correctly so you get a tight fit. The retractable screens are great since they roll right up into the housing unit and are essentially out of sight when not in use.
The framing is relatively simple to install on square doorways and the door simply slides across with a pull handle and the magnetic lock allows the door to close securely. The Larson model has an aluminum frame, it mounts to the door frame, comes with a 3 year warranty, absorbs impact to resist tearing, and provides the ultimate in convenience.
Another good website for screen doors is at Metroscreenworks.com. They offer french roll away screen doors and single roll away doors. The french doors are pricey at about $660 and the single retractable screen doors are closer to $300. Keep in mind that installation could run you another $100 to $200. You can order right on their website and customize your order as well. Go with the inside mount or surface mount, select the latch type, screen material, finish and handling.
DIY Screen Door Parts and Installation:
Installing a screen door can be easy if you have some experience with them and have a squared door mount. There are lots of Do It Yourself (DIY) websites out there to help assist you in the process. The good news is that many of the screen doors come with detailed instructions that are fairly simple to follow.
The video above shows you the basic installation procedure. Check it out and determine if it's something you can take on. The DIYnetwork.com site also gives some basic strategies on installation and what parts you may need. Some slight adjustments may need to be made for an exact fit.
More videos and resources are here on our Screen Door Resource Page.
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