So Many Doors, So Many Options, Which One To Choose?
Storm doors serve several purposes in our lives. They let your house breathe on a beautiful day while keeping bugs and windblown debris outside where they belong. They insulate your home and protect your entry door from harsh weather. They let you feel secure while seeing who is at your door.
And they are so good at their job that we’ve been using storm doors of one form or another since the middle 1800s. But, which one is the right one for your home? Hopefully, after reading the following examination of available storm doors, you’ll be able to answer that question for yourself.
Storm Doors Are NOT Screen Doors
Screen doors are those flimsy, patched things that were on every back door when you were a child. Light, cheap, and quickly broken were their hallmarks. Their sole purpose was to keep the bugs outside while letting fresh air into your home.
Storm doors are much more than that. They are made of sturdy materials with thick frames that won’t twist and flex from the actions of a toddler or even an adult. They are well sealed and create an air buffer between your entry door and the temperatures outside, making your home more energy-efficient. They also protect your main doors from weather extremes. And yes, they will also keep your six-legged friends outside where they belong while letting in the fresh air.
Storm Door Types
Storm doors come in many styles, but they all fall into five main types: full view, mid view, high view, ventilating, and security. All do their job well, but some will be more advantageous to your needs than others.
Full view storm doors have a thin border around a tempered glass panel that fills most of the door’s face. They will either have a screen that is exposed when you remove the large glass panel or come with a full-sized screen insert that you swap in during the warm months.
Mid-view storm doors have glass running from the top that stops roughly 18-inches from the bottom, where it transitions into a kickplate. The glass is usually split into two halves, with one half sliding down to expose a mesh screen or is completely removable to expose or be replaced by a screened section of the same size.
The kick plate is good to have if you have children, as they tend to be rougher on doors and seem to prefer to open doors with their feet.
A high-view storm door is solid on the bottom half, with glass just on the top half. These are not as efficient for airflow but are also handy for households with children or larger dogs.
With the bottom half solid, children and dogs won’t be leaving their nose, paw, or fingerprints on the glass as they would be with a full or mid-view storm door. This extra bit of protection will save you from running behind them with a bottle of glass cleaner throughout the day.
A ventilated storm door has an internal screen that extends from a spring-loaded bar inside the door as you lower the window. These are usually full view fronts with the glass split to allow downward movement of the upper half.
Having the screen stored inside the door saves on wear and tear on the screen and is a convenient way to switch from an insulating door to one that lets the outside air blow through your home.
Security storm doors can come in any of the four configurations above, but with the addition of metal bars to make it difficult to break through the door. The metalwork can range from simple to artistic, with swirls and other designs wrought into the metal.
The glass is often laminated security glass, and there are often multiple locking mechanisms to secure the door at the top, bottom, and middle edges.
How Are Storm Doors Made?
Storm doors can come in several robust materials, with aluminum and vinyl being the most popular choices. The cores can also vary between foam or wood.
The frames are made from aluminum, fiberglass, vinyl, and even wood. They each have their different strengths and weaknesses, such as:
- Vinyl – A popular choice due to its low price point, vinyl is a fairly durable material. However, it is susceptible to temperature extremes that can cause cracking and eventually fade if exposed to direct sunlight. Because of this, we recommend you pick a light-colored door such as white or cream.
- Aluminum – Also popular, aluminum approaches the lower price points of vinyl without the weaknesses of vinyl doors. It is far more rigid, less likely to crack in extreme cold, and will not fade. Aluminum doors are available in many bright colors.
- Fiberglass – Fiberglass doors occupy the higher cost bracket of storm doors but have few if any weaknesses. They will not rot, warp, twist, or crack no matter how rough the weather gets. They hold their colors very well, though there is some slight fading from many years in direct sunlight and can be made in almost any color. They can also be made to resemble any material; even creating a beautiful woodgrain is possible.
- Wood – Nothing beats the look of wood, but everything in this list beats the performance of a wooden storm door. Without annual maintenance, wood will quickly begin to rot, warp, and splinter when exposed to the elements. It is also inviting to insects such as termites and carpenter ants. Wood can make a perfectly functional storm door but expect to give some love every year and don’t expect it to last as long as any of the other available materials.
Modern storm doors all use tempered glass for their glass panels. Tempered glass is hard to break and, if it does, will fall into small bits rather than sharp splinters.
Should You DIY?
The temptation to self-install is always strong but should be avoided in specific projects. Windows are an obvious situation where paying professionals to do the installation work. It’s no different with storm doors.
Doors are notoriously difficult to get right unless you have a lot of experience in the field. Not only do you have to get the hinges positioned correctly for the door, but you also have to make sure they match the slightly off angles of the frame. And make no mistake, all door frames are slightly out of true if they are even a few years old. Getting the spacing wrong can cause:
- Moisture buildup causing rot in wooden frames
- Air leaks (rendering the storm door mostly useless)
- Damage to the storm door
- Damage to the door frame
- Damage to the entry door
- Pinched fingers on small hands
- A storm door that won’t close or lock
Unless you feel confident in the placement of tiny shims, the use of gap gauges, reading the precise angles of the door frame, calculating the swing, and choosing the correct sweep, you may want to leave the task to a professional installer. They hang doors day in and day out and warranty their work.
If you are tired of letting your energy dollars flow through your entry doors in your Greater Chicago area home, contact us at Krumwiede Home Prosto schedule your free estimate.