How to Install a Screen Door

A screen door is a fantastic addition to a home, keeping your door protected from the elements during the colder months and allowing you to let in some fresh air during the warmer months. They're easy to install yourself too! Get started with Step 1 below to find out how!


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    Measure for size. Measure the door opening (on the outside) where you want the new screen door installed. Screen doors are generally sold in standard sizes, so you'll need to find out which standard size is closest to your door size. Find a screen door that comes as close as possible to your door opening at your local home improvement store.
    • Generally the width is fixed and the height is variable. Buy a door as close as possible to the right height, but keep in mind that some trimming may be needed. Rain caps can be installed if it's too small.
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    Gather your tools. Most screen doors, when you buy them, will have a list of necessary tools on the packaging. Gather these tools before you begin. Things like shims, screwdrivers, power drills, rulers, and metal cutters are common.
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    Decide which direction the door will open. Generally, the handle for the screen door should be on the same side as the handle for your main door. However, if the handles will interfere with each other or if the screen door may open and hit a lamp or other object, you can have it open in the other direction.
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    Install a drip or rain cap. If you live in a wet area and your door is unprotected, you'll want to install a drip or rain cap above the door to keep water from getting in. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to install this simple protective device.
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    Dry fit the door and measure for fit. Set the screen door into the door opening, adjusting it so that it is an equal distance from the sides and top to bottom. It should be at least 1/8" (3.18 mm) off each side and 1/4" (6.35 mm) off the top and bottom.
    • Most screen doors come with a sill expander, to help them fit better if they are too small.
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    Adjust the door size. If your screen door is too big, adjust the hinge channel or sill expander by cutting them to the appropriate size. The door can also be cut to size, if it is made of particular materials (but this is not recommended).
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    Mark the location for the hinges on the door and door jam. While dry fitting the door, mark the locations for the hinge screws using a pencil. Make sure that the door is in the correct orientation when you do this.
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    Attach the hinges to the door. Set the door on a solid surface, such as a workbench, and install the hinges at the location you marks, being sure to check that the hinges open the correct way.
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    Install the hinge on the door jam. Attach the hinges into the correct place on the door jam, at the location you marked earlier. Drill 1/8" pilot holes and then use the recommended screws to attach the door and hinges to the frame. Screw the bottom hole on the top hinge first, use a level to make sure the door is straight, and then screw in the rest of the holes.
    • Shims or wedges can help you to hold the door in place while you do this.
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    Install the handle if it has not been installed. Take out the wedges and install the screen door handle according to the manufacturer's instructions. Many screen doors will already have the handle attached.
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    Test the door. Try using the door, checking to see if it swings open and closed easily.
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    Install the door closer, if one is included. Install the automatic door closer, following the manufacturer's instructions.


  • Use spring-loaded screen door hinges and you will not need to use an automatic door closer.
  • Before you hang the screen door, paint or stain it as you like. This job is easier when the door is sitting on sawhorses than with it is hung in place.
  • A self-centering drill bit can help you to center the screw in the hinges and avoid splitting the wood on the door frame.


  • When buying a screen door, make sure that it is not too small. Ideally, the screen door should not be less than 3/8 of an inch (9 mm) smaller than the size you need.
  • When cutting the door down to size, do not remove too much from the sides. Otherwise, you will weaken the strength of the door.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden or vinyl screen door
  • Screen door Hinges
  • Screen door handle
  • Automatic door closer
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Cordless drill/driver with bit
  • Self-centering drill bit
  • Wooden wedges
  • Paint or stain
  • Brushes
  • Pair of sawhorses

Article Info

Categories: Doors and Windows