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How to Install a Storm Door: The Best Techniques

Protect your front door from the elements with a storm door.

Modern storm doors are nothing like the rickety old doors you grew up with. If your storm door is letting down the outside appearance of your home, maybe it’s time to install a new one. The good news is installing a storm door is a lot less complicated than you might think.

We show you how to install a storm door and talk you through the estimated costs of tackling the task yourself.

Key Takeaways

  • Storm door installation is not complicated and requires moderate DIY knowledge and the right tools.
  • Measure the width and height of the door opening accurately, using the smallest measurements as your guide.
  • Install a storm door by first attaching the rain cap, hinge-side Z-bar, and then fitting the door, followed by the latch-side Z-bar and handle.
  • Standard storm doors cost between $100 and $300, with a typical lifespan of five years for vinyl models and longer for aluminum ones.

Is It Difficult to Install a Storm Door?

Storm door installation is not complicated; it just requires a moderate knowledge of DIY and the right tools. The type of door you install could make it slightly more challenging. However, the methods remain the same whether you opt for a glass or metal door.

Measuring for a Storm Door

They always say measure twice and fit once, and when it comes to installing a new storm door, these are wise words. Most problems occur when you get the measurements wrong, so take the time to get this bit right.

Grab your tape measure and measure the width first from the inside trim to the opposite side. Measure the top, middle, and bottom and use the smallest distance as your guide.

Here’s an example:

Top width: 36 inches.

Middle width: 36 inches.

Bottom width: 35.5 inches.

The smallest measurement of 35.5 inches is the one you would use.

Now it’s time to measure the height. Place the tape measure on the threshold and extend it to the underside of the top exterior trim. As before, take three measurements from the left, middle, and right, and use the smallest measurement.

How to Install a Storm Door

home after winter storm

The time has come to replace that old storm door. You have the measurements, you’ve chosen the replacement door, and it’s time to get cracking. But first, let’s do a checklist of the tools you will need.

What You’ll Need

  • New storm door.
  • Eight one-inch screws.
  • Power drill.
  • Hammer.
  • Screwdriver.
  • Hacksaw.
  • Duct tape.
  • Spirit level.
  • Sawhorse.
  • Measuring tape.
  • Pencil.

1. Check the Contents

Open the box containing the new storm door and check all the contents are there. You should find a component list in the instruction manual. The last thing you want is to get halfway through and find you are missing vital parts.

You should also check the instructions to get an idea of how the door fits into the frame.

2. Decide Which Side for the Hinges

Most storm doors that open out have hinges that go on the same side as the front door. You may need to hinge the door on the opposite side to the front door. If there are obstructions like porch pillars and mailboxes, the door may not fully open.

Mark the side where the hinges are going with some duct tape.

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3. Install the Rain Cap

The rain cap sits at the top of the frame and is sometimes called a drip cap. One side of the cap has a fabric strip that prevents water from getting behind the door.

Center the rain cap and use the spirit level to ensure it is level. Grab a pencil and mark where the screws are to go. Now set the drip cap down and drill the holes. Reposition the cap and insert one screw on the hinge side.

Leave the other screw holes empty at this stage. They can be done once the storm door is installed.

Take Note

Some storm door manufacturers state that you should install the rain cap after the door is fixed in place. Be sure to check the instructions before you start.

4. Attach the Hinge-side Z-Bar

The Z-bar is a small aluminum strip that attaches to the hinge-side of the storm door. Now measure the height of the door opening to the other side of the rain cap, extending down to the threshold.

Mark the measurement on the hinge-side Z-bar and then cut it to length with the hacksaw if necessary. Attach the Z-bar to the side of the door where it will open.

5. Fitting the Storm Door

Place the storm door in the door opening, ensuring that the top hinge-side Z-bar is flush with the rain cap. Use the spirit level to get the door level. Insert a screw in the top hinge, and then try the door to see if it swings freely.

Now you can make adjustments to the rain cap. Leave a 0.25-inch gap between the rain cap and the door, and insert the last few screws to hold it in place. Check again that the door opens freely and make any adjustments you need.

Once you are happy that the door is set in place correctly, secure the rest of the hinges with the screws.

6. Latch Side Z-Bar

The method to attach the latch-side Z-bar is the same. Measure from the top of the rain cap to the threshold. Do this on the handle-side of the door. Now mark the measurement on the latch-side Z-bar.

Grab the hacksaw and cut it to size if necessary. Place the latch-side bar in the opening, leaving the same 0.25-inch gap under the rain cap. Ensure the weatherstrip is facing outwards. Now secure with screws.

7. Attaching the Handle

Storm door handles vary by manufacturer, so check the instructions before installation. The main thing to avoid is the storm door handle knocking against the front door handle when it is closed.

8. Fitting the Sweep

To install the sweep, measure the width of the base of the storm door and cut it to length. Attach it with screws, and then open and close the door to ensure the weatherstripping covers the sill.

9. Install the door Closer

Fit the door closer and adjust the speed of the door swing by loosening or tightening it. This may take some trial and error before you get it right.

Cost to Buy and Install Storm Door

Standard storm doors cost between $100 and $300. Vinyl ones are cheaper than metal or hardwood doors, and the costs vary depending on what type of door you want. If you are having the door custom-built, the costs would be closer to $500.

When to Replace a Storm Door

A storm door typically lasts about five years for a vinyl model. If you get an aluminum door, it could last decades with the right maintenance.


What is the Difference Between a Screen Door and a Storm Door?

Storm doors are sturdier than screen doors because they have to withstand the elements. They also have removable screens or adjustable glass inserts.

Can a Storm Door be Installed on Any Door?

Storm doors that open out are generally installed on front and back entry doors, but they can be fitted to any external doors.

What Side Should a Storm Door be Installed?

Most storm doors are installed to open the same side as the hinges on the front door. You can install it on the left or the right, but be mindful of obstructions.

How Long Does It Take to Hang a New Door?

Hanging a storm door is a day-long task.

Do Storm Doors Provide Security?

The primary function of a storm door is to protect your front door against the elements. Some storm doors provide additional security, while others improve ventilation or stop air leaks. Doors on a metal frame provide the greatest security.

The Last Word on Storm Doors

Storm doors protect your external doors against the elements. They also reduce air leakage and provide additional security against forced entry. Why wouldn’t you want to fit a storm door if you value your front door?

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.