Updated: Oct 12, 2016
Best Storm Doors
- Why get a storm door?
- Storm Door installation
- How much do storm doors cost?
We've lived in a variety of climates around the country - in some places storm doors are quite common, in others, you barely see them. What is a storm door and what is it for? A storm door is just an additional door that is installed over an existing door (normally the front door). Unlike a normal wooden or metal front door, the storm door has panels of glass or screen to allow ventilation when required, while at the same time keeping out insects. And a storm door protects your wooden front door from the elements, keeping rain and moisture away from the wooden surface which minimizes damage to paint and wood.
In fact, during a recent home painting project in which we were also looking to replace some doors, one option was to put a storm door on the front to avoid replacing a weather-beaten front door for a few more years (though we opted to go with a new insulated door instead). But while a storm door might be a good idea to protect an exposed front door from moisture, it is generally NOT recommended to use a storm door in a situation where the front door gets many hours of direct sunlight -- it can trap heat like a greenhouse or a hot car and damage the door. In this guide, we'll take a look at some of the most popular brands of storm doors out there, see how to measure and install them, see how much storm doors cost, and much more.
The brief video below will give you a good idea of how storm doors work and how they are installed.
Most Popular Storm Doors
Modern storm doors are normally made of aluminum, fiberglass, vinyl, or aluminum clad wood. Some also come with foam or synthetic material inside for insulation purposes. In general, the thicker, heavier, and more solid the door, the more expensive it is. A good door will not bend or flex, and will have at least a partial wood interior. Glass panels should be safety glass and high-efficiency. Aluminum doors should have a maintenance free finish so you don't have to worry about paint or peeling. After you decide what material you want your door made of, style is the next choice. Storm doors come in a variety of models -- full-view doors offer a single glass pane that allows complete visibility, high view doors offer glass on the top half of the door, mid-view doors offer about 3/4 glass view. All of these designs offer removable glass and screen components to allow for ventilation during the summer months. When it comes to storm door manufacturers, Larson (since 1954) is generally considered to be the leader (LarsonDoors.com). If you need a custom fit or a custom design, check out the Larson Designer Series where you can select colors, handle and glass design, and hardware finish.
The Classic Elegance series (lifetime warranty) has 1 5/8" thick aluminum frames, solid brass handles with built-in deadbolt locks, custom strips to cover exterior screws, and brass-tone bottom sweep. They also offer security steel guard doors with heavy duty 16 gauge steel and tempered safety glass. The LIFE-CORE series (10 year warranty) is a wood-core door with a DuraTech composite surface and heavy duty hinges, while VALUE-CORE models (5 year warranty) have solid wood cores and aluminum clad exterior. Finally, the VINYL-CLAD models (2 year warranty) are their least expensive doors, with a solid wood core. All models come with screens. Andersen, as you would expect, is another big name in storm doors. EMCO is also part of their line. Andersen offers the Deluxe series and MaxxView, while EMCO offers the popular Store-in-Door series (glass and insect screen are stored inside the door, no need to haul them in and out of the attic or basement), Deluxe Wood Core, and Wood Core and Economy models. The main differences in these models is the materials used and their thickness (insulated aluminum, polyproylene, wood, aluminum or vinyl clad wood), types of metals used in handsets and deadbolts, and how the screen panels are removed and stored. You can also get storm doors with built in pet doors for easy access for dogs and cats. You can browse the most popular storm doors here.
Installation HelpFor more help with storm doors, Andersen also offers an installation video example that walks you though all the installation steps - click the image below to go to video.
How Much Do Storm Doors Cost?
Like most products, you can choose from basic entry level doors with cheap materials and cheap construction, or opt for pricier, better-made doors. We've seen storm doors selling for as little as $75 (these are usually vinyl doors, sometimes with solid wood core) while others sell for $200-$300, even as high as $400+. So you can get by with a cheaper door (even Larson offers models for $80), but in general we'd suggest going for something sturdier for most home owners -- expect to pay $200-$250. Keep in mind that a big factor in some of the prices of these doors is the finish design and materials -- special metals, handles, hidden retractable screens, locks, etc.
You can skip some of the extras and still get a really solid door that will last you for a decade or more for $200, or you can go with all the extras and get basically the same physical door for $400. In our experience, you'll be glad you spent the extra $100-$150 instead of skimping on a $75 storm door. As some examples, consider these models from Larson: 36" White Secure Elegance for $286, Pella 36" White Montgomery Rolscreen Storm Door for $237, Larson 36" White Signature Clear for $178, Larson 36" White Charleston Storm Door for $160, EMCO 36" 100 Series Self-Storing White Door for $94, Andersen 36 " 3000 Series Self-storing White Door for $269, or Andersen 36" 2000 Series Fullview White Door for $184. RECOMMENDED - You can view their top rated storm doors online here.
How to Measure for a Storm Door - Installation Information
Like most doors, storm doors are sold according to size -- height and width. Most door openings are about 80" tall - that is the standard height. However, the width of the opening for a storm door can range from about 30" to 36", so you will need to accurately measure the width before ordering a storm door. Andersen offers a measuring guide for storm doors (Stormdoors.com) -- basically you need to measure the width of the area in FRONT of your existing exterior door -- your storm door will sit between the brick mold or trim in front of the interior door jamb. You should make measurements at the top, middle and bottom, and use the smallest measure if there is a variance. Most storm door companies then offer sizing charts to select the door size you need. Of course if you are using a contractor, they will handle the measuring, ordering, and installation for you.
Videos on how to measure storm doors are here on our Storm Door Resource Page.
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