View Full Version : Installing storm doors - not simple

Stephen Tashiro
11-11-2017, 12:07 PM
If you take a typical house and ask "Which exterior door is most defective at keeping out the weather?" the answer is likely to be one of the storm doors - which is ironic since that's the purpose of having a storm door.

I've come to the conclusion that following the manufacturer's instructions for installing a storm door will usually result in a bad installation. They don't warn about problems with the brick molding and the sill.

Typical storm doors attach to the exterior "brick molding" on the jamb of another door. The person who installs the brick molding isn't doing it for the purpose of making a precise door opening; the brick molding is installed to cover gaps and have a pleasing appearance. It's just a matter of luck whether the brick molding is appropriate to hold a door. The molding is likely to be approximately plumb and the frame of the storm door can be installed at a slight angle to be plumb. However, if the face of the molding on the hinge side of the door doesn't point directly across to the opposite door jamb then the st0orm door may not close all the way - unless you exert force to bend it. The ridge for the weatherstripping on the hinge side will bind the door before it closes.

I don't know of any good way to shim the frame of a storm door to compensate for face of the brick molding being out-of-alignment with the opposite jamb. It seems best to installing new molding with a custom beveled face to fix that problem. (Another irritation about molding is that it's traditionally installed so the ornamental part of the profile is nearest the door opening and the simple square part is nearest the jamb. For the purposes of installing storm doors, it would be nice if things were the other way around.)

Whether the door sweep on a storm door works well is a matter of luck. In an unlucky situation then there is no raised ridge on the door sill for the sweep to hit. For example, the sill for a wooden door might be set so far back on a concrete sill that the bottom of the storm door won't touch it. The storm door sweep will have to scrub back and forth across a wide flat area of concrete as the door opens and closes. It will get bent out of shape.. The best way to install a storm door is install some sort of ridge for it's sweep to hit so you can have some clearance below sweep as the door is opened.

A typical defect of a storm door is that as you close it, the bottom edge of the door hits the frame before the top. At the local Home Depot, I browsed their display of storm doors and every one of them had this problem. The problem can't be explained by a problem with molding because all the display doors where installed directly onto metal frames. The problem can't be explained by the position of a door closer because these door had no closers. Perhaps it's caused by the fact people touch the door nearer the bottom when they open it. - or perhaps storm doors are designed to close that way for some reason (?).

Stan Calow
11-11-2017, 12:41 PM
Stephen, you are exactly right. Thanks for the detailed analysis. I thought I was just bad at it.

Mel Fulks
11-11-2017, 1:09 PM
Good work, Stephen. I don't like having to deal with two doors on one opening. I do allow a screen door at back. The twist of the doors you mentioned are probably because of the metal joints flexing more than a wood door. We might live to see metal overhead doors required.

Jim Becker
11-11-2017, 4:37 PM
Spot-on analysis!