Before buying storm doors for your home, make sure your primary doors are as airtight as possible. Adding storm doors certainly can improve the energy efficiency of almost any house, but they’re not designed to correct efficiency problems caused by old, warped doors or inadequate weather stripping.
If you need to replace the original weather stripping that came with the doors, purchase it from the manufacturer of the doors to ensure the best fit. If that’s not possible, most hardware and home improvement stores sell a wide variety styles of generic weather stripping that should do the job.
While you’re in the leak-sealing mode, pry off the old door molding and fill gaps around the framing with non-expanding foam insulation. Also check the caulking around the door frame and replace any that’s missing or damaged with a high-quality caulk.
Keep these things in mind when you go shopping for a storm door
Installing an aluminum storm door is a pretty simple do-it-yourself project you can complete with basic hand tools. At the store, you’ll find a good selection of lightweight doors made to fit standard-sized openings, and they should include all the hardware you need for installation.
The quality of a storm door’s construction is important for a nice appearance, long life and security. The door must withstand a lot of use (and abuse), so don’t just pick the cheapest one. From the standpoint of energy efficiency, the most important factors are the dead-air space between the storm door and the primary door and how well wind is blocked.
If you plan to use natural ventilation during the summer, consider a triple-track storm door with a self-storing screen. The screen panel has its own vertical track in the door, so it never has to be removed. At the end of winter, just slide one of the glass panels down and slide the screen panel up for ventilation.
Another storm door design uses a spring-mounted, roll-up retractable screen. When you’re ready for ventilation, just lower the glass and pull the screen down as far as you wish. This design is attractive because the screen is hidden away during winter, so you don’t have to remove and store the screen panels before replacing them with the glass panels.
Some very attractive (and more expensive) storm doors with all-wood frames also are available. These are strong and secure but require regular maintenance similar to that of any wood door. In addition, for added security you can choose an ornate wrought iron storm door with a deadbolt and very tough, tear-resistant stainless steel screens.
When you see the door on display in the store, it probably will be attached to a wooden frame, so the door and its aluminum frame will feel very strong. However, when you get home and open the box, you may find the unattached aluminum frame strips are somewhat flexible. So, be careful not to kink them during handling.
During the installation, apply a generous bead of caulk on the back of the aluminum frame pieces before screwing them to the wood door frame on your home. Then nail spring steel weather stripping in the door opening on the latch side and top and bottom. This type of weather stripping is very durable where there’s sliding friction. Adhesive-backed foam weather stripping will be effective on the hinge side of the door frame.
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These companies offer storm doors.