Everything You Need to Know About Storm Doors

Storm doors provide extra protection from the elements and theft, and they’re easy to install on your own!
Written by Heather Bernhard
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
A storm door is an additional door placed outside your home’s exterior for added protection. They reduce energy loss, protect your house from the elements, and help deter thieves. Installing one is one of the most intelligent home upgrades you can make.
Still, many people worry that the job is out of their budget or too difficult to handle on their own. We're here to tell you that storm door installation is an easy job and requires only tools you likely already have on hand.
Ultimately, the rewards of protecting your home far surpass the modest cost of materials and labor.
If you're thinking of getting a storm door for your home and aren't sure about what to buy or install, check out this simple guide from
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What is a storm door?

A storm door is an "extra" door that is installed in front of an existing exterior door. They protect the entry door from weather, forming a barrier to stop rain, snow, ice, and wind. In addition, they let in light, conserve energy, and prevent warm air from escaping the home. Other functions include: 
  • A storm door allows you to open the front door to let in light through the glass, but not cold air 
  • Storm doors prevent heated or cooled air from escaping through the exterior door 
  • Screen panels on a storm door can allow fresh air to enter the home, but keep bugs and debris out 
  • In bad weather, storm doors can protect a painted exterior door from damage caused by the elements 
Pro Tip Though similar, a storm door is not the same as a screen door. Storm doors are typically sturdier than screen doors and include removable or adjustable panels (which may be glass or fiberglass screen mesh). 

When you need a storm door

A storm door is an intelligent year-round addition to any home. It can protect your entry door from ice and snow in the winter months. If it’s cold but sunny, you can open the exterior door to let in warm sunshine without losing heated air. 
In the summer, a storm door can provide extra insulation, preventing cool, air-conditioned air from leaking out. If you have screen inserts, you can use them on nice days to let in fresh air without the worry of insects. And, as a bonus, storm doors allow parents to watch children playing outside without the inconvenience of leaving the front door wide open. 

Types of storm doors

There are several types of storm doors on the market, each with unique features. Typically, they are made of fiberglass, aluminum, PVC, or (less commonly) wood. Aluminum or synthetic options usually have a foam core for added insulation. 
Many doors have panels made of tempered glass, which is difficult to break or shatter. Others have extra-durable laminated glass (two pains of tempered glass with a laminate sheet between them) or Low-E glass (tempered glass with added UV protection). 
The main types of storm doors include: 

Full-view storm doors

Full-view storm doors frame your entry and allow maximum daylight to enter your home. Many come with a full screen that interchanges with the glass, so you can switch them out depending on the weather. The full panel glass creates nice curb appeal and allows a lovely, uninterrupted view of outdoor scenery. Some even have an included pet door. 

Partial-view storm doors

Partial-view storm doors, often called panel doors, include a ½ or ¾ view over a solid lower panel. Available in mid-view or high-view options, they are usually made of metal that protects the bottom of the door. 
Partial-view doors are helpful if you have pets or children who might break or chip the glass when trying to get outdoors. While they’re not the best for ventilation, they offer more durability than other storm doors. 

Retractable or self-storing screen storm doors

A self-storing storm door is a door with a safety glass panel that slides to open or shut a screened area. They are different from regular screen doors because they have more moving parts and include a protective glass panel. Self-storing storm doors offer great flexibility and versatility. 

Ventilating storm doors

Ventilating storm doors help accommodate the different needs of homeowners during different seasons. Like the retractable storm door, these offer a glass panel that can be slid open during nicer weather. The difference is that the screens are fixed and not movable. 
Key Takeaway Storm doors come in many styles and materials, so finding one that fits your needs should be simple. 

How to install a storm door

If you have a simple set of tools, a friend to help out, and decent DIY skills, you should be able to install your screen door. Most storm doors are pre-hung on a frame and come with an installation kit that includes all the necessary hardware. Necessary tools usually include a Phillips head screwdriver, drill, angle tool, measuring tape, level, scissors, and safety goggles. 
Installation starts with buying the right size—measure from the top to the threshold, then measure the width in three separate places. From there, follow these steps: 
  • Decide which way you want it to open—most storm doors can open from the left or the right, and have hinges that can hang on either side 
  • Install the rain cap, or drip cap, at the top of the frame, attaching it with a screw on the hinge side
  • Cut and install the hinge-side z-bar, following the manufacturer’s instructions for installation
  • Have a friend hold up the storm door, so you can attach it
  • Hang the storm door by pushing the hinge against the jam, making sure the side z-bar touches the bottom of the top z-bar, and securing it with screws 
  • Cut and attach the handle-side z-bar, maintaining a consistent 1/4-inch gap along the entire length of the door
  • Install the handle set and the associated hardware of the new door lock
  • Slide the expander off the bottom of the door and install the sweep
  • Install the expander on the bottom of the door with the provided screws 
  • Install the door closer, then use it to adjust the speed of the door by loosening or tightening 
If you prefer to hire a professional installer, it will likely run you between $70 and $200, depending on the door type and your house. 
Pro Tip Remember to use a level while hanging your door, or you may need to remove it to make adjustments after already going through all the steps. 

Does home insurance cover damage to storm doors? 

homeowners insurance
will cover accidental damage to your storm doors if it was unavoidable and unexpected. For example, if a child throws a baseball through your storm door or a hurricane sends a branch into the glass, it would be covered. 
If, however, the damage is caused by neglect or lack of maintenance, it would not be covered. An example of this would be if termites ate the wood around your screen door, causing it to fall off the hinges. 
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If your entry door is made of steel or aluminum or is a newer, energy-efficient door, you may not need a storm door.
Storm doors are meant to be used in addition to a regular external door. While they help provide added protection from the elements and theft, they aren’t especially useful on their own. Besides, with nothing but a storm door, everyone walking by would be able to see right into your house!
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