Installing a storm door is one of the smartest home fixes you can undertake, as it saves energy even as it helps protect the door behind it. Storm door installation is a relatively simple project that requires only basic tools that you might already have on hand. It's also one of those remodeling projects that you can feel confident about. The rewards of storm door installation far surpass the modest amount of labor and cost of materials.
Reasons to Install a Storm Door
Before you purchase a storm door, acquaint yourself with its features. In some cases, you might even find that a storm door is unnecessary for your situation.
Storm doors are aptly named because their main purpose is to protect your exterior door against the effects of weather, in general, and inclement weather in particular. Storm doors also help preserve your heated interior environment by reducing drafts that may enter through your exterior door's weatherstripping.
There are many reasons to install storm doors. Storm doors can:
- Protect your main, exterior door from direct contact with rain and snow
- Add more light to your room during fair weather with the solid door open
- Provide short-term protection against banked-up snow
- Reduce drafts that pass through your exterior door's weatherstripping
Some storm doors include a sliding panel and screen, making them a year-round benefit; you can slide the panel up to allow for a flow of air through the screen during the warmer months, and slide the panel down to seal up the door during colder weather. Either option can help save on your utility bills.
Storm doors are not a cure for all weather-related woes. If you have a covered porch that reliably prevents moisture of all types from reaching your front door, adding a storm door will add little or no value. Replacing your exterior door with a better model might, in fact, be a wiser move. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a storm door will provide minimal benefits if you already have a newer, insulated front door. Your energy savings may not offset the cost of the storm door.
Consider these other limitations to storm doors:
- Storm doors cannot prevent floodwater from entering your home.
- Storm doors banked with snow will eventually leak through the seals if the snow is left in place too long.
- The air pocket between the storm door and the front door is of minimal R-value.
- Storm doors usually cannot be painted to match or otherwise complement your home's exterior.
Before You Begin
With no complicated shimming required, storm door installation is a less exacting process than slab door or pre-hung door installation. Even though most storm doors are relatively light, weighing in the range of 60 to 80 pounds, an assistant is always helpful for a second hand. If the storm door has a screen and if the glass is removable, take both out now and set them safely aside. This will lighten your load, making installation easier. Both items can easily be put back into place once the door has been installed.
Equipment / Tools
- Tape measure
- Set of drill bits
- Storm door (with hinge plate and drip cap)
Measure the Door Frame
With a tape measure, find the height and width of your finished door opening. This is the space defined by the inside of your door casing. Most storm doors are reversible, but generally, you should install your door so that its hinges are on the same side as the front door.
Remember the old adage: "Measure twice, cut once." Since the next step includes making a cut to the hinge plate that can't be reversed, double-check to make sure your measurements are accurate before proceeding.
Install the Hinge Plate on the Storm Door
The hinge plate, also called a hinge rail, is the long metal section from which the door will hang. With the hacksaw, cut the hinge plate so that it is as long as the vertical inside measurement of your door opening. Attach the hinge plate to the storm door with the included fasteners.
Install the Storm Door in the Door Opening
Place the storm door in the door opening. Attach the hinge plate side of the storm door to the front of the door casing (not inside the casing). Use your level to ensure that the door is plumb (vertical). Even if your door casing is not perfectly plumb, your storm door should be plumb.
Get a Helper
Storm doors can be heavy, so it's beneficial to have a helper. That person can hold the door steady while you screw the pieces in place.
Install the Drip Cap
The drip cap, or rail, is a short metal section that goes above the storm door to prevent rain from leaking behind the storm door frame. Run a bead of caulk on the drip cap. Then, using the cordless drill and the provided screws, screw the drip cap into the front of the door casing.
Install the Jamb on the Other Side
The jamb is the vertical section of metal where the storm door latch will engage. Screw this jamb into place with the cordless drill and the provided screws. Make sure that the door opens and closes correctly. Adjust if necessary for a tight fit and smooth swing.
Attach the Door Closers, Handle, and Strike Plate
If your door came with closers, attach them now. Usually, you will install one at the top and another at the bottom of the door. Install the door handle, latch, and strike plate.
Test the Storm Door
Test the door to make sure that it opens and closes, the latches shut, and it does not conflict with the exterior door itself. If needed, re-install any screen or glass that you removed prior to installation.