How to Measure for a Screen Door
- Gather Tools
- Measure Frame Width
- Measure Frame Height
- Measure Depth of Trim
- Order Based on Measurements
The installation of traditional screen doors or retractable screen doors starts with proper measurements. Understanding how to measure for a screen door ensures that you get the right fit for your door to open, close, and operate properly.
What’s the Difference Between a Storm Door and a Screen Door?
When determining how you'd like your front entry doors to look and act, you might consider adding a screen door or storm door in front of your main door. Many people believe that a storm door and a screen door are the same thing. While similar in appearance, they do have a few important differences.
A screen door's main purpose is to allow fresh air to come into your home. The mesh screen material keeps out pest intruders that would otherwise make their way in without a barrier. In contrast, storm doors are more heavy-duty. They have one or two glass panels with a sturdy aluminum door frame that keeps wind and weather out of your home, hence the name.
Storm doors can have interchangeable screen mesh panels, too, allowing them to act as both a storm door and a screen door. For example, you can switch out a glass panel for a window screen in the springtime when the chances of inclement weather aren't as high. Come fall or winter, swap it back to the glass panel for additional protection.
If you live in an area with a mild climate where you'd like to experience a year-round indoor-outdoor feel in your home, a screen door is the best option. They're also excellent picks for doorways leading to a patio or backyard.
Screen doors can be versatile, too. Sometimes, you may not want a hinged screen door, like in narrow doorways that would be challenging to accommodate a standard door. In this case, you can opt for a retractable screen door.
These doors have a retractable screen that rolls back up into a mounted piece that hangs on the side of your door frame. Pull it out and attach it to the other side of the door frame when in use. When you're done, unlatch it and roll it away.
Screen doors also come in various styles to match your design tastes and functional needs. For example, you can have screen doors in a French door style, or use a sliding screen door that fits over your sliding patio door.
How to Measure for a Screen Door
Before we dive into the steps for measuring for a screen door, it's important to outline the parts of a door, so you know the terminology for what you'll be working with. Here are the important parts you'll need to know:
Trim — Also known as casing, the trim is the decorative edging around the door frame. You'll usually measure between the inside of the trim to get your horizontal measurement.
Sill — The sill is located at the bottom of the door. It's usually a piece of wood that runs across the width to keep out air, pests, and anything else that might move underneath your door.
Jamb — The jamb is a vertical part of the door frame. It helps support the weight of the door and keeps the frame in proper alignment for smooth door operation.
Now that we've covered the parts of your exterior door you'll need to know, you can follow these steps to collect the measurements for your screen door.
1. Gather ToolsThe first step to measure for your screen door is to gather the tools you'll need to do it. Fortunately, you'll only need a few things: a long measuring tape, a pencil, and a piece of paper to jot everything down. It's a good idea to prepare your paper beforehand, so you can keep track of each measurement properly. Write Width, Height, and Trim Depth, as these are the measurements you'll be taking.
Try to find a measuring tape that's at least as long as the height of the door to avoid having to take multiple measurements of one length, which can interfere with the accuracy of your measurements. In most cases, a nine-foot measuring tape is sufficient.
You may also want to grab a buddy to help you measure. Your helper can hold the measuring tape in place while you measure to ensure an accurate measurement.
2. Measure Frame WidthNow, you're going to measure the width needed for the screen door. This is the horizontal length of the door, or the measurement from one side to the other. It's best to take three measurements for the width to ensure accuracy.
Using your measuring tape, measure from the inside of one side of the door frame to the other near the top of the door. Make sure your measuring tape only measures between the inside of the trim. Write that measurement down.
Repeat your measurement in the center of the door and again near the bottom of the door from trim to trim. Now, repeat each of those three measurements to check their accuracy.
You may find that the measurements vary slightly from one another. That's okay! That's why you took three measurements. Still, they should only have a very slight variance.
Which measurement do you use for the width? The shortest measurement you took, assuming it's very close in line with your other measurements.
Most screen doors allow for a slight measurement difference under or above what you measured. Say, for example, that your shortest measurement is 30 ⅛ inches. Your door frame should accommodate a standard 30-inch door size, which can fit into spaces slightly under or over 30 inches.
3. Measure Frame HeightMeasuring the height of your door frame will be similar to measuring the width. The height is the vertical measurement from the door sill to the bottom of the door frame's top trim.
For this measurement, measure in two different spots, one toward the left of the frame and one toward the right. Your helper will come in handy for these measurements, as the height will require you to use more of your measuring tape. Have your helper hold the end of the tape at the sill while you take the measurement at the top, or vice versa.
Write down both measurements and, again, take the shortest one as your height. Be sure to measure them again to check for accuracy.
The height of a standard door is 80 inches, but you can find various heights for screen doors as stock options or custom-built options. In most cases, you can expect the height to also allow for a bit of wiggle room if your height measurement is slightly longer than 80 inches. For example, if you're measuring 80 ⅜ inches, you'll want to go with an 80-inch door height.
4. Measure Depth of TrimAlthough some people skip the step of measuring the trim's depth before ordering a screen door, it can be an important step, depending on the screen door you choose.
Most screen doors, whether you're buying stock or custom, require a trim depth of at least one inch to ensure the hinges fit properly. You can always check on the requirements for doors you're interested in by doing some browsing first.
To measure the depth of your door trim, measure from the door to the edge of the inner part of the trim. Take this measurement on the side you'll be attaching the hinges to. Do not measure any decorative edging that protrudes out from the trim. You just want to focus on the space that's available for attaching your screen door hinges.
Like you did with other measurements, take two or three measurements of the trim depth in different spots for accuracy. Record the shortest measurement. Most trims are at least one inch deep, but if yours doesn't meet your door's requirements, you'll need to have an experienced contractor correct it before installing your door.
5. Order Based on MeasurementsNow, it's time to order your door. Keep your measurements in hand while shopping for a new screen door.
Standard door sizes can vary. Generally, the standard height of a door is 80 inches, while the standard width of exterior doors is 30 to 32 inches. If your door measurements are within a slight variation — like ⅛ to ⅜ of a difference — you can usually round to the closest number. For example, if your measurements are 30 ⅛ inches by 80 ⅛ inches, you'd get a 30x80 door.
However, if your door seems like it would be between sizes and you aren't sure which one to choose, it's best to consult an expert. Ask a customer service representative, and let them know your exact measurements and the door you're interested in. They can steer you toward the right one.
You can also look for guides when shopping online. Most door listings include a chart or downloadable guide with measurements specific to that door. You can use the guide to determine where your measurements fall for that door's range of sizes.
If you're buying a custom size, be sure to let the representative know the exact measurements you took. They'll be able to decide on the door size you’ll need based on those measurements. When shopping with Rustica online, you can choose the measurements of your door as you customize your door and place the order.
Another important note: Pay attention to the sides the screen door parts are on when ordering. Doors come in left-handed or right-handed styles. These terms refer to where the handle is on the door. The handle should always be on the same side it is on your main entry door. A left-handed door has the handle on the left side, while a right-handed door has the handle on the right side.
How to Install a Screen Door
- Gather Tools and Materials
- Fit the Door Evenly into the Opening
- Measure and Install the Hinges
- Install the Hardware
- Test the Door
How to Install a Screen DoorAll screen doors will fit and install a bit differently, especially if it's a custom size door or a unique type of screen door, like one that's fitting over a sliding glass door. Still, it's always a good idea to have some general knowledge of what to expect when you install your screen door so that you feel prepared for the task.
When you order a screen door from Rustica, we'll send you detailed instructions for installation to help you fit your door into your measured space with ease. These instructions will be specific to your door, ensuring the perfect fit and installation. Use the guidelines below as general instructions to familiarize yourself with the installation process.
1. Gather Tools and MaterialsTo install a screen door, you'll need a few basic tools to start with. Most importantly, grab a power drill, drill bits, screwdriver, and a pencil or marker. The door you ordered should already include the hardware you'll need for installation, but if you ordered custom hardware, make sure you have that ready, too. Be sure to check the packaging your door came in to see if anything is missing before you get started.
You'll also need a few shims. Shims help ensure that there's a slight gap between your door jamb and the door so that it can open and close properly. They also allow you to properly position with even space on both sides. You can use paint stirring sticks or other thin pieces of wood as shims.
Then, grab someone to help you, just like you did when measuring for your door. This person can be an extra set of hands as you fit the door into its opening, check spacing, and install the hardware.
One final tip before you get started: read through the instructions. The guide will tell you what each piece of hardware is for and give you step-by-step installation instructions, so you'll become familiar with everything before beginning.
2. Fit the Door Evenly into the OpeningWith the assistance of your helper, move the door into its opening. Remember to check the placement of the door handle. The handle should be on the same side as the main door to allow for the proper swing direction. Place shims on each side of the door and on the top and bottom to space the door evenly. Your partner can help add shims while you hold the door in place, or vice versa.
Your door might not fit as smoothly as you'd hoped in its intended spot. That's not something to worry about usually, as you may be able to shave off a slight amount of trim on the sides or top of the door frame using sandpaper or a sanding block. Often, just a small adjustment is needed for a smooth fit.
3. Measure and Install the HingesNow, it's time to attach the screen door frame to the door frame using its hinges. Your door should still be securely in place with shims. If your screen door does not have pre-drilled holes for the hinges, now is the time to drill them. Your instructions should note where to drill for your specific door.
Then, find the hinges for the door. Hold one up to the top of the door's pre-drilled holes, lining up the hinge holes with the door's holes. Using your pencil, mark where you need to drill on the door frame by lining the other end of the hinge up with the frame. Now, do the same for the bottom hinges.
Make a pilot hole with your drill and a drill bit for each hole you just marked. Attach the hinges to the door frame using the screws that came with your door and a screwdriver. Once they're secure, attach the hinges to the door the same way. You can now remove the shims from the sides, top, and bottom of the door.
4. Install the HardwareIf your door doesn't already come with the screen door handle installed, you'll need to do this part yourself. Some doors may have predrilled holes, while others may allow you to place the handle where you see fit. The latter is common to find on reversible screen doors that allow you to hang them on either side of the door frame.
With your door in place, look at the handle of your main door. Make sure the handle you install on the screen door won't be in a position that interferes with the main door's handle. Use the handle to line up and mark off where your pilot holes should be. Then, drill the pilot holes and install the handle.
Your screen door might also use a closure system to prevent the door from slamming shut. Screen doors are often on aluminum frames that are much lighter than regular doors, and a pneumatic closing system allows them to close slowly.
Your door may already include the right system to fit your door. If not, you'll need to check with the company to determine the type and size of closure system you'll need. Check the instructions for your specific door to properly install the closing system.
5. Test the DoorThe final step is using the door to make sure everything fits and works properly. You can usually make slight adjustments relatively easily if the door has trouble closing or opening all the way. This is often a hinge problem, so you'll want to check that the hinges are properly mounted to the frame and the door and the screws are nice and tight.
Check the handle and latch system, too. Make sure the screen door latch aligns properly with the catch in the door frame. Then, check that the closure system is slowing down the closure of the door when you release it. If not, you may need to adjust the screw on the cylinder. Check your instruction guide for the closure to learn how to adjust this.
If everything looks good, congratulations—you've just installed your screen door successfully!
Measuring and Installing a New Screen DoorWarm weather is on the way, and there's no better way to enjoy it from the comfort of your home than with a new screen door. Consider installing one in front of your entry door or patio door (or maybe both!) to allow ample airflow into your home. When used in conjunction with your home's windows, a screen door assists with circulating fresh air and ventilation throughout the entire home.
Rustica offers brand-new screen door options for your home that can fit right into your home's style. We invite you to explore our many options to prepare your home for the upcoming beautiful weather. Our exterior doors come with a limited lifetime warranty that protects your purchase so that you can enjoy your screen door for years to come.