The storm door is one of my favorite doors and it has nothing to do with … storms! Like sliding patio doors, storm doors allow you to keep your exterior doors open during reasonably warm weather, and this means more natural sunlight in the house. That's a good thing as most front doors open into a hallway that doesn't have windows or lots of lighting.
Besides enjoying my open door, there are lots of practical reasons to install one or more storm doors at your house. Storm doors protect exterior doors from the elements which is great if you've got a beautiful wood door. Storm doors act like double pane windows, with the air between the 2 doors adding an insulating layer to reduce the loss of heated or cooled air.
Most of the storm doors you buy today come with screens so when the weather is nice, you can use the screen door to circulate fresh air through your home without risking flying insects coming inside.
Types of Storm Doors
When buying a storm door, the key decisions are which door style you like best, the material the door is made of and quality which should be relative to the frequency of use. A door used many times each day by a busy family, needs higher quality materials and construction to insure it continues working smoothly for many years.
- Full-view storm doors – include a full, glass panel along with a screen panel that you exchange with the changing seasons. When available, a full-view door with a taller kick panel at the bottom is better because it lowers the chances of the screen being kicked out (we replace lots of screening at my handyman business).
- Ventilating storm doors – include a fixed full or half-screen panel so you don't have to swap the storm glass and screen panels as the weather changes. The glass panels move when you want cross-ventilation in your home.
- Retractable screen storm doors – have the screen connected to the top of the door. When not in use, it rolls up on a tensioned dowel at the top of the door. It's practical because it's the screen that most often gets damaged when it's stored.
Tips on Buying a Storm Door
Storm doors are made from several types of materials which offer different pros and cons. In all cases, the thicker the storm door, the more rigid and durable the door will be. When picking your storm door, you should try to
- Wood storm doors – were the original material and remain the most appealing but require painting or another form of sealing to protect the wood from the elements (sunlight, water and wind). Wooden screen doors are less than one inch thick, making them lighter but unable to support the weight of a full glass panel.
- Aluminum storm doors – resist corrosion so they don't need to be painted repeatedly. Aluminum doors come in a range of thicknesses which call all support glass panels. The risk with aluminum doors is the corners can crack if the door gets blown open during a storm, and this affects the strength of the door so look for a brand that offers replacement parts.
- PVC storm doors – like aluminum doors, are corrosion resistant and don't need to be painted or sealed. They can be molded to look like wood and with welded corners (meaning no screws), they're more durable than aluminum. PVC however is a controversial material, because it can release toxins into the air while fiberglass is more expensive.
- Fiberglass storm doors – are similar to PVC doors. They're more expensive but don't give off toxins. Both PVC and fiberglass doors have chemicals added to the material to slow the effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which makes plastics more brittle … so thicker doors have an advantage.
Other items to consider when buying a storm door include screen color and the door locking hardware which often includes a pneumatic door closer to prevent the door from opening/closing too fast. If you have lots of insects where you live, look into a door sweep which fills in any gap at the bottom of your door. A door stop (see details at VintageDoors.com) surrounds the sides and top of a door if you're not getting a really tight seal.
For those homeowners with security concerns, there are many options like these wrought iron storm doors from MetalexDoors.com and many doors can be ordered with laminated glass. Theses doors can provide security and do it with style so the doors add to your home's curb appeal.
Photo credit goes to Harvey Building Products and I have their storm doors at my house.