Installing a Storm Door

Whether your storm door is broken or just in need of an update, you can learn how to install a new one with a little patience and basic DIY skills. Here's what to expect when installing a storm door.

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You spent months tracking down the perfect front door, but after a rough thunderstorm, the door is in shambles. Don't let that happen to you. Protect the threshold to your home with a storm door. These easy-to-install doors guard against rough weather, prevent bugs from sneaking inside, and let in cool air during the summer months. 

If you don't already have one (or if the one you have is dysfunctional), you can install an exterior storm door as a do-it-yourself project in just an afternoon. Our easy-to-follow steps show you how to install a storm door.

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What You Need

  • Storm door
  • Tape measure
  • Z-bar extender
  • Sawhorses or outdoor worktable
  • Door hinges
  • Screws
  • Plastic sweep
  • Latch
  • Closer
  • Dead bolt, optional
  • Strike plate
  • Shim
  • Doorjamb bracket

Step 1: Measure the Frame

Whether you're planning to buy glass storm doors, insulated storm doors, or basic storm doors, you need to measure before you buy. Take the width of the existing storm door frame in three spots: the top, the middle, and the bottom. Then measure the height of the storm door frame. Record all these measurements from the inside of the door frame (and don't worry if the three width measurements aren't the same).

Step 2: Research Your Options

Over time, most homes settle, shifting by small increments here and there, particularly at corners such as doorframes. That's OK, because when you are installing a storm door, you can adjust the fit to accommodate this. Most installations rely on a Z-bar extender, which helps fill in the gap between the square door and the slightly off-square frame. The other option: Use your measurements to create a custom door that will fit exactly.

Step 3: Decide on the Swing

If you are purchasing an off-the-shelf replacement storm door, you will need to decide on your door's swing; it may open to the right or to the left, and in or out. After you've decided which way you'll be installing your storm door, place the door on an elevated surface, such as an outdoor worktable or two sawhorses. The hinges are only temporarily attached; you will need to make sure they are on the correct side for your swing, then secure with screws. Also make sure that your Z bar, if needed, is on the correct side.

Step 4: Finalize the Fit

Prop up the door in the opening to make sure it fits. Follow the door manufacturer's instructions and shim the door as needed. You might also need to slope the Z bar to ensure proper fit.

Step 5: Secure the Storm Door

Keep the door closed and secure the hinges tightly with screws. Secure the Z bar, as well, following the provided directions for accommodating any needed gaps and screws. Then locate the expander channels and slide the plastic storm door sweep through them; crimp closed and remove any expander excess, then reattach to the door. Attach securely with screws.

Step 6: Install the Latch

Follow the manufacturer's directions to attach hardware, including drilling holes and leveling the hardware. Assemble the latch and dead bolt, if using, as well as the strike plate and shim. Adjust the opening and closing as needed, and follow directions to attach the doorjamb bracket and closer.

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