Tag Archives: painting screen doors

Just in time for fall, another screen door

“Little and often make much.”

So says a Chinese fortune paper that I keep on my desk at work. This summer, I have done as little as I can, as often as possible, and I can’t figure out why I haven’t accomplished much! Maybe my pace will pick up once our scorching-hot summer is over.

One of my summer projects was to paint the back screen door, which still matched the previous color scheme. How hard can that be?

Half the summer slipped by before I laid the door out for rejuvenation in my side-porch paint lab. I had barely gotten busy sanding its grubby surface when I noticed that the glue joint above the handle had separated. We decided that the old door had come to the end of its useful life. Time for a fresh start.

At Lowe’s we chose a new pine screen door in the same style as the old one. This time, though, Eric wanted to install a real dog door instead of cutting a flap of screen fabric. We need to keep the fur kids in, yet still ventilate the house. Additionally, he wanted to upgrade the standard screen fabric to pet screen, which is a strong, coarser, vinyl-coated polyester mesh that resists claws. (I highly recommend it.)

Now—watch as a seemingly simple project (paint a freakin’ door!) balloons into a whole summer’s worth of mini projects!

On our old door, the screen was attached with a spline in a groove, making the screen impossible to removable without ruining it. The new door features a routered channel that holds a metal frame, into which the screen and spline is inserted. The whole framework and screen can be removed for painting the door, then reinstalled with screws. Eric says this system has been around for a long time … but what do I know? I was just glad I wouldn’t have to tape the screens when I painted. I hate taping!

Wood screen door without the screen

The door with the metal frame and screen removed.

In his basement shop, Eric customized the door to hold a large dog door, the same kind we have in the back door. He filled the space above the dog door with wood. (In the photos below, the wood door is laying on a plywood surface, making it hard to see details.)

He also had to buy new, larger metal framing for the screen, because the frame that came with the door was too small to accept the heavier pet screen fabric. The larger frame required routering a wider channel in the door. All that gluing, screwing, and tattooing took longer than I’d hoped, but finally our new, custom door made its way back upstairs to the paint lab.

My turn. Notice, I seldom paint alone. If Eric took a long time to customize the door, I probably took just as long to finish painting. I could only do one coat per day, and I didn’t paint every day.

We pin the door back against the house when it’s not in use because there’s only a top step to stand on—no landing and no place to get out of the way of an outward-opening door. When it’s pinned back, the inside of the door is visible from the street, so I painted it the trim color to help it blend with the trim around the back porch window. Initially I thought to paint it the gray-green siding color, but people only see the top of the door from the street, and the pale taupe looks better from the inside when the door’s closed.

At last, the door was cured and ready to be fitted out with the new screen and pet door. Eric did the work on the kitchen floor.

Finally—ready to install! But wait—let’s do some additional fiddling around. When Eric removed the old door, we found that the hinges had been screwed into a piece of shim inside the door jamb. No wonder it never fit right. Eric cut a new trim piece for the door jamb, and I, of course, painted it. Now we could proceed with measuring and jiggling it around until it fit just so, at the right height and depth … are we done yet? No!

To make the door fit flush with the exterior door frame, Eric added some clever bumpers. Can you tell what these are really for? (Hint: They are not rubber baby buggy bumpers.) If you can’t figure it out, go lift up your toilet seat …

Rubber bumper used to dampen screen door slam.

The door always closes quietly.

Door with hook and eye fastener

Interior hardware

Boxer stands before pet door

Duke quivers with excitement as Eric encourages him to try his new door.

View of plants outside screen door

The leafy view from inside.

Boxer peers under wooden gate

What people see from the sidewalk. Go ahead–stick your foot under the gate!

We started this easy project on July 7. We hung the screen door on August 28 … our normal, do-little-often pace. (But we’ve had a hot, fun summer!) Duke is still figuring out how to heft his hind legs through the new door, which is a higher step than the other door. Some of the cats are confused that the screen panel isn’t the way in anymore. Eric and I are on to our next project. We’ll all figure it out …

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it

The skeeters are coming! The skeeters are coming!

In fact, they’ve been here for weeks, early this year, and BIG. Our record-breakingly wet spring might have had something to do with that. Bugs sent us scrambling to get screens on our doors and windows, but dang it, it’s never that easy, is it?

We’ve had the screen on the front door all winter. I finished painting that one last fall. But the screens for the French doors, which we often open for air (and to let cats inside—they have us trained) have been leaning wearily against the wall in the foyer all winter, waiting for their turn. Their red exteriors were already done, but the interior side needed to be painted Chef White to match our trim, which I’m still laboriously picking away at in between long breaks.

Black and white cat waits to be let in French doors

Poor little Checkers stuck outside!

When I bought the house in 1984, I found screens for all the house’s windows stacked in the basement. Ironically, nearly all the windows in the house had been painted shut. By the time Eric came along, the wood frames were falling apart, but he saved the hardware. Fortunately, the original French screen doors were intact. We rescreened them with “pet proof” fiberglass screen fabric, which is coarse and black. It really works! Our cats abuse it regularly, and it’s held up for years.

Mosquitoes were entering through the bathroom window, too. Eric made  a screen for one of the bathroom windows a couple of years ago, and I still had to paint its interior.

Red-framed bathroom window with screen

Our home-grown bathroom window screen

Old-fashioned screen clip

The old hardware works just fine (interior view of bathroom window screen).

Lastly, the kitchen screen door is still spruce green. I tend to forget about that one because we pin it back against the house when we’re not using it (an odd configuration), and when we are using it, it looks so familiar that I don’t see it. Put it on my list …

I set up my paint shop on the side porch, balancing the long French door screens on our rocky bistro table. Usually I don’t bother to tape, but I couldn’t risk slopping paint on the screen. (I dripped some on one screen despite my best efforts.)

Boxer dog lies beneath screen door ready for painting.

Security is present whenever the queen is in residence.

It took several days and a couple of weekends to paint the doors and give them a good chance to cure before hanging them. I spent a bit of time sanding the crud off of this brass sliding bolt that secures the bottom of the doors on the inside. I quit because A) I got bored real quickly with this fussy job, or B) We decided to upgrade to new black hinges and hardware … take your pick.

Brass slliding bolt

The original brass sliding bolt. We’ll use it somewhere …

Black hinge on French door screen

One of four new black hinges

We replaced the sliding bolt with a new black one.

Black sliding bolt on French doors

The sliding bolt secures the screen doors at the bottom.

But we retained the original high-tech latch.

Hokk keeps screen doors closed.

Refection off the French doors makes the screen interiors appear red. They’re actually white.

I added some colorful flowers to the deck planters and brought out the porch pillows. Ah … it looks so inviting! The side porch is my favorite room of the house in summertime.

Flower planters on porch viewed from inside

Summer flowers

View of porch through screened French doors.

This porch always beckons me.

Bistro table on porch, viewed from inside

Now the bugs stay out.

A finished project! Woo-hoo!!

Uncovered porch on Craftsman bungalow

The porch viewed from the sidewalk.

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it