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How to Install an Aluminum Storm Door

A tightly weatherstripped storm door can reduce air leakage around a front door by as much as 45 percent

Q: "I know storm doors cut down on drafts, but are they difficult to install?"

Maryanne Collins, Islip, N.Y.

A: Not at all. Storm doors are sometimes made of wood or fiberglass, but most—including the Andersen 3000 Series storm I'm installing here—are built from low-maintenance aluminum.

Home centers stock standard sizes and can supply custom sizes in a couple of weeks. Look for models that have weatherstripped mounting rails, which allow you to install the door yourself in about an hour.

Before you start, check the width of the jamb and the thickness of the door casing. If the jamb is less than 2½ inches wide or the casing is less than 1 inch thick, pad out the casing with ¾-inch-wide filler strips. They'll support the mounting rail and allow clearance for the handle when the storm door is shut.

Step 1

Size The Door

Photo by Ryan Benyi

Measure the doorway's width at the top, middle, and bottom between the inside edges of the side casings, and its height at the center between the sill and the bottom edge of the head casing. The height and the shortest width will determine what size door you order. Specify which way the door should swing; its hinges should be on the same side of the opening as the entry door's.

Step 2

Put The Door in Place

Photo by Ryan Benyi

Rest the door's bottom edge spacers on the sill and tip the closed door into the opening so that the Z-shaped mounting rails cover the side casing's corners. Hold the door with your shoulder as you drill ⅛-inch pilot holes through the middle hole in each rail and into the casing's face; drive a screw into each hole. Then drill pilot holes through the other holes in the rails and screw them to the casing's face.

Step 3

Fasten The Rails

Photo by Ryan Benyi

Remove the clips that secure the door, then open it. To bolster the hinge side, drill more pilot holes into the edge of the casing, through the holes in the hinge-side rail, and drive a screw into each one. Don't overtighten them; doing so could strip the holes or pull the door out of square. Remove all the remaining spacer clips and install the door latch.

Step 4

Attach The Brackets

Photo by Ryan Benyi

Place the jamb bracket for the closer, as shown, so that the bracket is against the hinge rail and lines up horizontally with the glass trim. Drill pilot holes through the bracket and screw it to the jamb. Slip on the bracket arm and screw it to the jamb too. Screw the closer's door bracket into the factory-drilled holes on the frame.

Step 5

Install The Closer

Photo by Ryan Benyi

Extend the arm of the pneumatic closer as far as possible, and use a pin to connect it to the jamb bracket. Pin the other end to the door bracket, as shown. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 to mount a matching closer at the top. Next, hook on and fasten the rain-cap mounting flange, which covers the gap between the top of the storm door and the head casing.

Step 6

Adjust The Door Sweep

Photo by Ryan Benyi

Close the door and loosen the screws on the door sweep. Let the sweep drop to the sill, across its entire width, and tighten the screws, as shown. Press the glass retainer strips into the top and bottom of the frame, and snap vinyl screw covers over the rain cap and both rails. Finally, lay a bead of sealant along the top edge of the rain-cap flange and the sides of the mounting rails.