Retractable Screen Doors: Instant Cool Air For Your Home...at a Price

Your front door, ignored for six months during fall and winter, suddenly becomes an object of interest when birds start chirping for spring.  Suddenly, you want to fling it open and let in the fresh air. 

Screen doors are the greenest way to cool down your house.  Our ancient ancestors, rather than turning on power-gobbling window unit ACs, opened front and back doors and let the crossbreeze flow through.

Rollers and Flaps Instead of Doors

Traditional screen doors, made of wood and aluminum, are not difficult to install.  

However, if even that is not easy enough for you, there are three alternatives to doors:  flaps, vertical rollers, and horizontal rollers.

All can be accomplished within one day.  Some are great, some dismal, but all follow these three rules:

  1. If You Want It Easier, You Pay a Price:  That price being a lower quality product. The best product reviewed here, the horizontal retractable door, takes a full day to install and exacting measurements.  But you will be happier with the result.
  2. Tracks Are Better Than Flaps:  Tracks positively seal off the sides.  Flaps are floppy and undependable.
  3. All Have a Limited Lifespan:  If even your fanciest oak-framed door needs occasional re-screening, how long will your As-Seen-On-TV Magic Mesh, attached with Velcro and tacks, will last?  About one season, if that.
  • 01 of 03

    Magnetic Screen Doors

    MegaMesh Screen Door
    MegaMesh Screen Door. via Amazon

    Tell Me Quickly:

    Double mesh flaps attached to your door frame with Velcro.

    Details:

    Like the alien pods from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," magnetic screen doors are...everywhere!  While found at Lowe's and Home Depot, they are also available in the "As Seen on TV" section of your local pharmacy.  Amazon's servers are straining with the five billion magnetic door screens on its site. 

    Can they be any good?

    You'll Love It Because:

    Simple to install.  Use the supplied tacks to attach the Velcro to your door frame.  Then attach the screen to the Velcro.  Magnets hold the divided sides of the screen shut.  People and animals can push through the screen.  After passing, the screen snaps shut.

    You'll Hate It Because:

    If you suspect it is garbage, it is garbage.  Magnetic door screens are a cheap, flimsy overpriced item.  They are dark, too.  

    Cost

    In the $30 and less range.

    Brands

    Too many to list:  Mega Mesh, Magic Mesh, Sentry, Magic Bug Screen.

  • 02 of 03

    Pull-Down Screen Doors

    Secret Screen Screen Door
    Secret Screen Screen Door. via Amazon

    Tell Me Quickly:

    Roller screen door that goes up and down.

    Details:

    Like the magnetic screen door, the pull-down door appeals to people who have typical infomercial problems.  

    Ever experienced the problem of dropping a full bag of groceries and slipping, all while trying to accomplish the difficult task of opening a traditional screen door?  Of course you have!  This happens all the time.  And in black and white, too.

    Pull-down screens are like roll up window shades, but for your door.  In rolled mode, it hides behind a valance above your door frame.  Reach up to pull it all the way down to the floor, where it locks.  To open, touch it with your toe, and it retracts automatically.

    You'll Love It Because:

    It is extremely cool to tap with your toe and see the screen go up.  Unlike the magnetic screen door, which is always there, this one zips up and away if you do not care to see it.  

    You'll Hate It Because:

    Some owners dislike that the sides are open, rather than riding in a track.  Also, as cool as it is to tap-and-open, remember the downside:  you have to reach up to pull it down.  Not the best thing for short people.

    Cost

    In the $60 range.

    Brands

    Secret Screen

  • 03 of 03

    Retractable Screen Doors

    Retractable Screen Door
    Retractable Screen Door. via Amazon

    Tell Me Quickly:

    Screen door that rolls width-wise--off to the side, rather than the top.

    Details:

    Retractable screen doors are the only "easy install" screen doors that will pass muster if you care about the look and performance of your home.  

    Decidedly more expensive than magnetic and pull-down screen doors, retractable doors require more hardware and longer installation time.

    You'll Love It Because:

    It has tracks on three sides:  top, bottom, and one long side.  On the fourth long side, the screen locks into place, with little or no cracks.  This means that bugs do not have a chance to get into your house.

    You'll Hate It Because:

    Installation provides little tolerance for error.  Get your measurements wrong when cutting the track with a hacksaw, and you now have a very expensive collection of screen parts that now belong in the trash.  Step by step viewing of the installation YouTube is highly recommended.

    Pets cannot pass through or around retractable screen doors.

    Cost

    In the $150 to $200 range.

    Brands

    Seasonguard, RetractAway