Installing a Storm Door

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

Maybe you have a storm door that doesn't close quite right. Or perhaps you're looking for a fresh, welcoming face to your home's front facade. Whatever the reason, installing a storm door is a do-it-yourself project that you can probably accomplish in just an afternoon. Here's an outline of the steps to follow.

  1. Get out the tape measure. Although you might be excited to explore the material and color choices of newer storm doors, before you go anywhere or buy anything, you need to measure. Take the width of the 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's frame (and don't worry if the three width measurements aren't the same).
  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 storm door, you can adjust the fit to accommodate this. Most installations rely on a Z-bar extender, which helps to fill in that 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.
  3. Decide on your door's swing. If you are purchasing an off-the-shelf 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 the screws. Also make sure that your Z bar, if needed, is on the correct side.
  4. Finalize the fit. Prop up the door in the opening and 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.
  5. Secure the door and expander to the frame. 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 sweep through them; crimp closed and remove any expander excess, then reattach to the door. Attach securely with screws.
  6. Install the latch and the closer. Follow the manufacturer directions regarding attaching hardware, including drilling holes and leveling the hardware. Assemble the latch and deadbolt, 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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