A storm door is installed on the outside of your regular entry door, creating a barrier that saves energy and protects your door from harsh weather. Storm doors also create an extra level of security, particularly if they have a deadbolt.
Storm doors save energy by reducing air leaks from the main door. They are especially effective if your front door is old but still in OK shape (new doors tend to be very energy efficient, reducing the benefits of storm doors). Storm doors also save energy by reducing heat loss. Compared to other energy-saving upgrades, adding a storm door produces a lot of bang for your buck.
Storm doors are available in a variety of styles. Some are more decorative, while others are made mostly of glass to provide a full view of your front door. Most storm doors have some combination of glass and screen panels, and some have removable panels that allow you to switch from glass to screens as the seasons change.
Some storm doors have kick plates to protect the bottom portion, and some have added security features such as grilles, deadlocks and security glass. Most come with some sort of door closer or stop that controls how fast the door opens and closes, and allows you to prop the door open if needed.
Storm doors are sold in a variety of standard sizes - you’ll have to measure before you start shopping to figure out what size to buy. Or, you can hire a professional to do the measuring. If your opening is too large for a standard door, you can buy a device called a Z-bar extender to fill in the extra space. However, some people find these unattractive and opt for a custom door instead. Custom doors can be any size and the design possibilities are endless, but they are much more expensive.
Standard-size storm doors usually cost about $100 to $300. Custom doors vary in price depending on the size and complexity, but plan to spend at least $300 to $500 to order a custom size and $1,000 to $1,500 or more to have a custom door built.
Professional installation adds about another $100 to $200. If you’re handy, you can cut out that cost by handling the installation yourself. Most standard doors are pre-hung, which makes installation fairly simple. All you’ll need is a drill and screwdriver.
A storm door is a great investment if you have a main door that is old but still in decent enough condition that it’s not yet time to replace. If your door has deteriorated to the point that there are significant air leaks, you should spring for a new, energy efficient main door instead of a storm door.
- Give some thought to how you want the screen door to function. Do you want removable panels so that you can switch from glass to screens in the spring and summer? Or, would you rather have a glass-only door that you remove and store in the warmer months?
- Give some thought to aesthetics, too. Do you have a beautiful front door that you want to show off? An all-glass storm door is probably the way to go. Is your front door ugly and outdated but still in good shape? Then you’re better off opting for a more decorative storm door to hide it.
- If you’re choosing a storm door with screens, you’ll have to decide on the type of screen. There are solar screens for doors that are exposed to direct sun - these help prevent furniture and flooring from fading. Galvanized steel screens are strong and affordable, but they are prone to rust. Fiberglass screens resist corrosion, but they cost more. Bronze screens are the most durable and the most expensive.
- Always “test” a storm door before you buy it. Give it a thorough examination on the showroom floor before you commit to a purchase. Open and close the door to make sure it operates smoothly. Try replacing the glass panels with screens to gauge the difficulty of the task. Make sure the components seem high quality.
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