Screen Door search - need help please

Old 03-02-06, 09:55 AM
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Unhappy Screen Door search - need help please


We went to Home Depot and bought a screen door, only to find that when we got home, it didn't fit. It was the 36" door, so we went back, returned it, and got the smaller door (32", I believe). When we brought that home, it was WAY too small. I measured the door before we bought the first one, and our actual front door has a measurement of 35.5" X 79", so we thought the 36" would work great.

I went back to Home Depot to return the 2nd screen door, and told them about my issue; that the first one didn't fit, and the second one was too small, and they said I would need a custom made screen door. Yet, my neighbor is more of a handyman than myself, and he installed one on his house and it fit just fine. We live in a manufactured housing park, and this home is a 2003 model, and I thought they were all the same when it comes to the door sizes, but for some reason, ours is different.

I measured other areas of the doorway (the recess, the door frame, etc), and I can't find anything solid anywhere that tells me what door will fit, or how I even go about finding the right door. I mean, if Home Depot can't help me, am I really that hopeless?

I was hoping that someone here might be able to guide me in the right direction.

I like to think of myself as generally competent, and can fix most minor problems (change the oil in the cars, repair an outlet, install a few things here and there), but this one is a confidence killer, and I'll be darned if I can figure out why I can't seem to find a door that will fit.

Anyone have any suggestions (please understand that I'm already picking my face up off the floor, LOL).

Thanks in advance,
Old 03-02-06, 10:25 AM
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Probably when the opening was constructed, attention to detail was only given to getting the interior door to fit properly.

I had the same problem and actually had to trim one side of the trim board, where the door molding frame will be, to get the proper allowance. You can take some off of both sides if the difference is significant. Of course that is not possible if your opening is made of metal framing. My door opening right now, also purchased at Home Depot, is 35 5/8 inside measurement including the frame around the door. This is thin metal so I expect that originally the width was more around 35 3/4-35/7/8.

Hope that helps, but it would be much cheaper than ordering a custom door. Just trim it with a circular saw, but be very careful of kickback.

Old 03-02-06, 10:35 AM
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Most of the aluminum doors, the ones that come with frames, fit a range of openings, they can be adjusted to make up for minor sizing issues. My guess is that the HD guy just doesn't know this. The 36" door should fit your opening. Did you read the directions (if there were any) carefully?

Another choice is a wooden screen door, just trim it a bit if needed.
Old 03-02-06, 04:58 PM
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Screen Door

When you said your door was 35.5" X 79", I'm assuming you mean the door on the interior rather than the screen door opening. What is the opening size for the screen door? It's usually 1" to 1-1/2" taller than the interior door because of the sloped sill and the interior door's threshold.

Modern door frames for residences usually have a 36" opening for the interior door (which is actually called the "exterior door" although it's on the interior) and the door is hung directly on that frame. However, the screen door is not actually hung on the frame; it is hung on the exterior trim that is nailed to the outside of the frame. That trim is usually what is called "Brickmould," which is a 2" wide by 1-1/8" deep piece of trim. Sometimes instead of a brickmould there will be a flat casing, which can be several inches wide but still 1-1/8 or 1-1/16" deep. The reason it's 1-1/16" to 1-1/8" deep is that a screen door needs that width to properly hang in the opening. Wood screen and storm doors have been 1-1/8" thick for the last 100 years or so.

If your opening for the "interior" door is approximately 36" wide, but your screen door opening is less than 36" wide, that means somebody was sloppy at putting the exterior trim on your door frame. They should have spaced it exactly 36" apart when applying it. Your solutions, some mentioned in previous posts, include A.) Ordering a custom size screen door; B.) Prying off and resetting the exterior trim to the correct width; C.) Cutting the trim back slightly to the correct width with a circular saw; or D.) Buying a wood screen door and cutting the door to fit. I like A or C.

It should be noted that if you buy a so-called 36" aluminum storm/screen combination door, the door itself is only 35-1/4" to 35-1/2", and the aluminum bars around it (called "Z-Bars") take up the remaining space. They are intended to fit any width between 35-3/4" to 36-1/4", so there is a range. Similarly, the height is adjustable from 80" to 81" with an adjustable piece on the bottom of the door (the Z-Bars would need to be cut though).

So back to my original question: What is the opening size for your screen door? No need to reply if you have enough info. Good luck!

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