Few things can dress up a home's entrance like a new storm door—especially when the door is trimmed in brass and has full-view glazing. Beyond cosmetics, a full-view door can flood a home's interior with light, brightening the lives within as it beckons to those outside. It's a good return on investment, considering that installation takes just a couple of hours and materials total less than $400.
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Unfortunately, full-view glass doors are not for every home or situation. When direct sunlight bears down on an unvented glass door, it heats the air trapped behind it. In the worst cases, the door surfaces can become too hot to touch and the heat can actually warp the entry door. Combination storm doors—screened doors with self-storing glass—are less of a problem because they can be opened during the hottest months of the year. North-facing doors, and those shaded by trees or alcoves, are really the best places for full-view glass doors.
Most manufacturers offer full-view doors with lower vent panels. A lower vent allows a little fresh air into the house with the entry door open and helps vent the space between doors when the entry door is closed. The door has a 4-by-30-in. lower vent panel just above the threshold. It's also available with a small vent at the top to help cycle the hot air through the space. While the upper vent isn't big enough for continuous summer sun, it makes a difference where the door gets a few hours of sun each day. Our door also features an acrylic plastic pane and a foam-insulated aluminum frame with a baked-on finish.
Begin by carefully laying the door across two sawhorses. Then install the upper vent in the headpiece of the door. Screw the screened half of the vent to the outside of the door, and attach the remaining piece to the inside of the door. Then, feed the two strips of vinyl door seal into their slots in the brass threshold extender. Use pliers to crimp one end of each slot to lock the vinyl in place.
Doors may be shipped with the hinge rail screwed to the door or packaged separately. In our case, the hinge rail was clipped to the door but not fastened with screws. After securing the rail to the door, measure the height of the door opening on the hinge side of the jamb to determine how long your rail needs to be. If you have a sloping threshold, be sure to hold the tape at the back of the threshold. Transfer this measurement to the hinge rail, subtract 1/4 in., and trim the rail with a hacksaw.
Installing the Door
You can take a lot of useful measurements beforehand, but nothing beats setting the door in place. Press the hinge rail tightly against the door trim or brick molding. With the door more or less centered in the opening, use a 4-ft. level to check that the hinge rail is plumb. Then, check the clearance on the latch side of the door. You'll need about a 1/2-in. gap so there's enough room for the latch rail and clearance for the door once the latch rail is installed. When the door is leveled and centered, mark the door trim through the hinge rail's top screwhole.
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Bore a pilot hole at this mark and set the door back into the opening. Screw the top of the hinge rail to the trim with one of the provided screws. Check the door again with a 4-ft. level. When you're satisfied that the door is plumb, install the rest of the screws. All the holes in the hinge rail overlay the hinges, so you're really fastening the hinges to the doorframe at the same time. With the hinge rail fastened at the front, open the door and sink screws through the two holes near each hinge on the back side.
Next, install the header rail. Rest one end of the header rail on the hinge rail, level it, and screw it to the door trim. Then, measure for the latch-side rail. Trim the rail to length by cutting from the bottom end. Install the latch rail against the header rail and between 1/8 in. and 1/4 in. away from the edge of the door. Snap the plastic screw cover into its slot on each vertical rail and lower the threshold extender to the threshold.
Begin by sliding the lock body into the mortise in the door edge and secure it with screws. Next, slide the cylinder through the lock body, secure it with a screw, and insert the spindle rod. With the side plates slid over the spindle, bore pilot holes for the side-plate screws. Screw the side plates in place and secure the handles to the spindle rod with the set screws. Finish installing the lockset by attaching the strike plate to the latch rail.
With the door hung and latchset in place, complete the job by installing the hydraulic closers at the top and bottom of the door.
Copyright © Popular Mechanics 2001. Reprinted by permission.