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Installing A Wood Screen Door

Posted by author: Louis V Dalessio SR on

I’m buying a wood screen door!  What’s next? 


The answer to that question is simple: once you buy a screen door from us, it must be installed. 

And like the old saying goes – it’s easier said than done.  While reading this document think about whether you’re up to the task, or if it would be better to hire a professional woodworker, craftsman or handyman to measure and install your door.  Bear in mind the installation process is faster than the reading. 


Throughout the years we’ve helped our customers plan their project step-by-step, gathering a number of useful tips and suggestions along the way.  Keep in mind there are unknown factors that we cannot account for, such as the age of your home and condition of the door frame.  It’s important to begin with a solid foundation and attaching your new door to an old, rotting, mushy or soft door frame is not a good start for this project.


If there is anything you’re unsure about, call us at  M-F EST  631.701.1865   and we’ll help!



What about hardware?


There are three basic hardware components required for installation:


  • 1 Hook & Eye Latch
  • 2 Handles – Inside and Out
  • 3 Hinges – Either Butt or Flush Mounted


There are many types, styles and colors of screen door hardware options available, but when it comes to hinges the flush mounted and self-closing are the most popular choices. 


The old butt hinge design is still quite popular, but requires some basic carpentry skills and a few additional steps in the installation process. We’ll cover both methods so you can easily explore your options to determine which is best for you.

Where do I begin?


You’ll begin by measuring the door.  This is the most important step in the ordering process, so make sure you measure twice and double-check your work.


You’ll take three horizontal (width) and two vertical (height) measurements, in addition to measuring the door jamb thickness.  The method is a little different for an Arched Top door, so we’ve included diagrams for both door types. 


howtomeasure-screendoor-standard1.jpgLooking at the diagram for guidance, the horizontal measurements are:

  • Upper Width (W1)
  • Middle Width (W2)
  • Lower Width (W3)


The vertical measurements are:

  • Left Side (H1)
  • Right Side (H2)


Be sure to measure in the EXACT spot where your door will be attached to the door jamb; typically, it is hung in front of the door stop.  Once you’ve checked and double-checked your measurements, choose the largest width and height – you or your hired professional will trim the excess wood at the time of installation.


After you’ve determined the size of your existing opening, deduct 1/4” inch from the WIDTH for clearance and up to 1/2" for the HEIGHT.  It’s important to include this deduction in the measurements you provide us; we do not make the deduction.


TIP:  Make sure the entry door handle does not protrude into the space for your wood screen door hardware.  It’s important to ensure there’s enough clearance for specialty hardware handle sets.

How do I measure an arched top wood screen door?


Don’t let the arch top scare you, correctly measuring the door is easy.  Just like a standard door, you’ll take three horizontal (width) two vertical (height) measurements, in addition to measuring the door jamb thickness. 


Looking at the diagram for guidance, the three horizontal measurements are:

  • Upper Width (W1)                     
  • Middle Width (W2)
  • Lower Width (W3)


Height is indicated as:

  • Center (H1) – measure in the center of the doorway, from the bottom of the doorway to the top of the arch
  • Side (H2) – measure at the side, from the bottom of the door to the bottom of the arch


When measuring an arched top door, it’s critical to measure the center height (H1) of the door jamb at the HIGHEST POINT.  Remember – measuring is a critical step so double- and triple-check your measurements and make sure you’ve written them down correctly. 


Once you have your final measurements, choose the largest width and height.  You or your hired professional will trim the excess wood at the time of installation.



Once it’s received, your door can be trimmed up to 3/8" on each side.   You can also trim up to 3/8” from the top and 1” from the bottom.  If you’ve measured correctly, you will have little if any trimming to do and you’re ready to move on to the next step.


If there’s anything you’re unsure about, call us at  M-F EST  631.701.1865   and we’ll help!


We’re finally ready for installation!


Once your new door arrives, you have 10 days to open and examine the contents of your order; there are no returns accepted after this period of time.  It’s a good idea to become familiar with our terms and company policy prior to ordering your door.


Look for visible damage that may have occurred during shipping.  Also, check both the style and measurements to make sure that what you ordered is inside the carton.


STEP # 1


As with any other home improvement project, the first step is to gather the necessary tools.


The checklist below covers the most basic tools you’ll need.  Depending on the scope of your project, you may or may not need all of these items.  But it’s a good idea to have them handy – just in case!


Tool Checklist – Basic Wood Screen Door Installation

Extra supplies

  • Pencil and Paper
  • Measuring Tape or Wood Rule
  • Sharp Chisels
  • Utility Knife (New Blade!)
  • Awl
  • Assortment of Wood Drill Bits
  • Screw Driver
  • Masking Tape
  • _____________________
  • _____________________
  • Drop Cloth
  • Saw Horses (2)
  • Clean Towels about the full width of your doors
  • Circular Saw
  • Sharp Saw blade
  • Planner and or Block Plan
  • a good wood rasp or file
  • ____________________
  • ____________________


  • Handy Wipes
  • Broom and Dustpan
  • Garbage bag
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Wood Putty
  • Touch-up Paint
  • ___________________
  • ___________________
  • ___________________
  • ___________________


TIP:  If you don’t have most or all of the tools on this list, hire a pro!  It could cost you a fair amount to purchase these items – don’t! – Unless you’ll use these tools on future projects.

STEP # 2

Prep Your Opening.  Begin by removing the existing door and cleaning/prepping the doorway.  Keep your old door until your project is complete.  Also, make sure everything you need – including your hardware – is unpacked, easily accessible and within reach.  


Now is a good opportunity to double-check your tools and be sure everything you’ll need is handy; there’s nothing worse than having to stop mid-project to dig for something you need. 



STEP # 3

If you have experience trimming a wood screen door then you will have no trouble, however if this is your first time, this task may prove to be challenging.  Just take your time and make sure you’re prepared before you begin cutting.  If you need advice, do not hesitate to call us at 631.701.1865


Because every doorway varies a little, there isn’t an exact science when it comes to determining the amount to trim.  It’s best to have a helper on this project; they can hold the door in the opening while, from the other side, you can scribe a light mark with your pencil to determine the areas that need trimming.  Use care when removing the excess wood and do not trim more than 3/8" from each side and no more than 1" from the bottom. CAUTION: if you cut more than the specified amounts you will compromise the integrity of the door and void your warranty. 



I prefer to use the block plane to shave just a small amount from the edges of the door.  You can use your circular saw to trim or plane the top or bottom of the door. Other traditional tools, such as a wood rasp or file, will work just as well. 


Make sure you have enough clearance for the hinges and door latch. 

Before you move on to step 4, place your door into the opening to make sure it fits; you may need to do some additional trimming. 


Take your time and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with near perfect results.




STEP # 4

TIP: It’s a good idea to lay a towel across the top of each sawhorse to protect your door’s finish and prevent scratches while you’re working.  Masking tape works great to hold the towels in place. 


There is a never-ending variety of attractive hinges on the market.  When it comes to installing them, the technique is a little different for flush mounted hinges, butt hinges or self closing hinges.



You will install three flush mounted hinges:

  • Top – 7” from the top of the door
  • Bottom – 11” from the bottom of the door
  • Center – the midpoint between the top and bottom hinges
  • Measure, trace/outline, and pre-drill pilot holes on both the door and the door frame.




Installing butt hinges will involve a few additional steps.

  • Being by measuring (Measure where? – 7” from top / 11” from bottom / center)
  • Trace the hinge outline onto the inside of your screen door. 
  • Scribe a cut with your utility knife to make a nice clean edge.
  • Use a sharp wood chisel to remove just enough wood for the butt hinge to rest inside it and lay flush to the door’s edge.  Make sure you do a good clean job; excess material will keep the hinges from laying flat and cause binding when you open and close the door. 
  • Attach hinges to the door.


Do you need more advice with butt hinges?  For more detailed butt hinge installation instructions, go to this page.  If you still have questions, call us at 631.701.1865.




STEP # 5

You need to pre-drill pilot holes into the door frame and this will require the assistance of your helper.  One person needs to position the door in the frame while the other marks the screw holes.  Set the door down and then pre-drill the pilot holes.  This will make adding your screws much easier.

Once they have been pre-drilled, one person can hold the door in place while the other person attaches it to the frame.

STEP # 6

Before you install the handle or lock set, make sure you have ample clearance on the sides, top and bottom of the door frame, ensuring the door swings clear and there is no rubbing or binding.

Once your satisfied that your door is installed properly, take this time to locate your handle or lock set and check that you have clearance available for the door’s primary entrance hardware.  Then, mark the location for your handle or lock set and follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

After your hardware has been installed, you can remove the door to perform any sanding or touch up work.  Once’ you’ve completed painting or staining, be sure to install your screen fabric.  In most cases this is a minor task and requires that you roll your screen fabric into the grooves provided on the inside edges of the door.  We provide the screen and spleen.  If your door has the rope spline method, please click here for more information.

 Before you put your tools away, double-check your work to make sure you have not forgotten anything or left off a few screws.  It’s important to fasten your door properly so you will get many years of use. 

General maintenance may be required depending on the finish you have selected.  Expect to re-paint your door every 3-4 years as required. Screen fabric can be replaced at anytime; simply remove the rope spline, and replace the old fabric with new.  We Recommend Super Screen (now call Textilene Nano 50/55/60 For A Longer Lasting Screen Fabric we strongley advise Textilene Nano