Category: Doors & Windows

3 Fixes for a Stuck Key

Leaving your keys at home isn't the only way to get locked out. If you—and your key—get stuck, try these three fixes to get inside without having to hire a locksmith.



It’s been one of those days. You caught every red light on your way home from work, your laundry wasn’t ready at the dry cleaners, and now—when you finally get home and are dying to sink into your sofa—you can’t get your key out of the front door‘s lock. While frustrating, it’s usually not that difficult to remove a key that’s stuck, so long as nothing is broken inside the lock. The culprit could be just a loose part of the lock assembly, a a sharp burr or ridge on a new key, or a bend in an old one. Forcing a key can cause it to break off in the lock, so take a deep breath and give one of these easy fixes a try.





The keyhole plug in a pin tumbler lock (found in deadbolts and key-in-knob locks) is just one part of a larger locking cylinder. What’s visible to you, the face of the plug, is the small circle surrounding the keyway—and your stuck key. Now, if this plug is loose, it can move slightly within the cylinder and prevent the pin tumblers from aligning, which makes it difficult to unlock the door or remove the key. Push your key in as far as it will go and turn it so that the keyway slot is in the exact position it was in when you inserted the key; this is the correct position for the pin tumblers to align in the cylinder. With your other hand, use the tip of your finger to push firmly on the face of the plug next to the key. The light pressure will prevent the plug from shifting as you gently twist and pull the key out.





If stabilizing the cylinder on your house’s lock doesn’t work, it might not be a loose plug causing the problem. New keys and imperfect copies are notorious for hanging on tumbler pins. Spray lubricant like WD-40 makes a great assistant when attempting to retrieve a key stuck in a lock, and most cans come with a tiny straw nozzle for getting into spaces as tight as a keyhole. (If you don’t keeps some handy in your car’s trunk, a quick run to the store might be in order.) Hold the straw right above your stuck key, aiming it into the hole. Now, wiggle the key (up and down, not side to side) to work it out of the lock. Once it’s out, use a fine file to smooth away any barbs or sharp points on the key teeth to prevent future sticking, or ask the key maker to file them down for you.





Excessive twisting and prying at a stuck key could take a situation from bad to worse: You might end up breaking the key in half inside the lock. Should this happen, you do have a couple of DIY options still available to you before hiring professional assistance. First, simply slick the keyway with a squirt of spray graphite or lubricant, then attempt to grab any visible end of the key using a pair of needle-nose pliers. If you don’t have enough metal extending from the keyway to grip, run to the store to pick up an under-$10 tool made just for the job: a broken key extractor kit. (That errand may still be quicker than waiting around for a locksmith!) Select the size of specialty tool from the kit best fit for your problem lock, and slide the slim implement along the recessed groove of the key as far as it will go. Once in place, turn it so that its hook can grab the key’s tip, then pull it back toward you to try dislodging the remaining chunk of key. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

Of course, if you’re still stuck after trying all of these fixes, rest assured you have given it your best shot—this job is truly one for the professionals. You’ll need to call a locksmith to either retrieve the key or replace the lock altogether. Then, going forward, save yourself the sticky situation! Aim to keep a spare handy to switch into your key ring if your primary one begins to bend with wear—a warped key is more likely to stick down the road than a straight key. Also, give your locks a quick squirt of lubricant every few months to dissolve any gunk and keep the locking mechanisms moving freely. With this minimal effort, you may never have to wrestle with a stuck key again.

Solved! What to Do About Condensation on Windows

Sure, a little water on the inside of your window seems harmless—unless it's actually a sign of bad ventilation, mold, or mildew. Do you want to find the real reason for the fog? Read on for a few sanity-saving tips.



Q: My windows consistently gather condensation on the inside. I wipe them down, but the moisture keeps coming back. How big a problem is this, and what can I do about it?

A: The short answer? Moisture buildup isn’t a huge issue on its own. But left untreated, it can lead to more serious problems like mold, mildew, and water damage. Tracking down the root cause of window condensation can be tricky, but in general, condensation occurs when warm, moist indoor air collides with a cooler surface. Because glass is one of the coldest materials in your home, excess water vapor condenses there first, causing that all-too-familiar fog effect. If the inside of your window simply refuses to dry up, we can help you track down the source—step by step.

Take a closer look. If you live in an old house with equally old windows, take note of where this window condensation appears. For double- or triple-pane windows, moisture between the glass is usually caused by a faulty seal. If that’s the case, consider yourself lucky: You can correct the problem by replacing the insulated glass panel, and it’s a relatively inexpensive fix.



Weatherize your windows. Whether or not you found a bad seal, preventing condensation on windows starts with good insulation. In especially old homes, adding a storm window and weatherstripping accomplishes much of what newer, higher-tech windows do at a fraction of the price. Even better, you’ll have warmer nights and lower energy bills.

Those with brand-new windows or an abode built in the last decade have a little more troubleshooting to do. That’s because modern homes are more buttoned-up than ever before, and they come with energy-efficient doors and windows that greatly reduce heat loss. But if you don’t crack yours open once in a while over the winter, you could be trapping all that warm, moist air inside your house, thereby creating or exacerbating steamy problems. To get all that moisture under control, try some of the following strategies.

Start with easy-to-spot sources of humidity. Plants release moisture into the air as they grow, so move them off your windowsill during the cold season. And, if you use a humidifier at home, consider turning it off in the winter, or running it less frequently than you have in the past; it may be that the air in your home isn’t so dry that this appliance needs to run constantly. Invest in a hygrometer to keep close tabs on the humidity level.

Have faith in fans. Since the bathroom and kitchen are humidity hot spots, using an exhaust fan to send some of that excess moisture outside should help dry out indoor air. Most bathrooms have an exhaust fan, and the vent on your range hood can work the same magic in your kitchen. Just be sure to turn the fans on, whether you’re showering or cooking up a storm!

Check for ventilation issues. Just like water won’t collect on an empty glass, condensation won’t form on windows in a house that can’t hold humid air. Start your detective work in the laundry room by confirming that your dryer’s vent hose runs to the outside of your home. If it does (and the hose and duct are leak-free), your next stop should be your fireplace: Inspect the wall around your hearth for beading water. An unused, sealed fireplace limits air circulation, creating the perfect opportunity for mold and mildew to move in. If you notice a musty smell or discolored spots on your wall, your home may already be playing host to fungi.

Hire a pro. Hey, it’s nothing to be ashamed of! If you’ve winterized your windows, ruled out the likely causes listed here, and checked for ventilation problems, hiring a home inspector (or a mold and mildew specialist) is your best bet. They’re trained to look for other hidden sources of moisture, like rainwater seeping into your foundation or crawl space. Moving quickly and working with a specialist will prevent further damage to your home, so it can be a smart investment.

3 Hidden Benefits of New Windows

If you still need a bit of convincing to get moving on that long-delayed window replacement project, here are yet three more compelling reasons to get rid of those old, leaky, tired-looking windows.



Technology has redefined virtually every aspect of contemporary life, and home construction and remodeling are no exception. Today, thanks to breakthroughs in design and manufacturing, once-simple building components now boast a stunning level of sophistication. Windows offer a prime example. In the past, the typical window consisted of a wood frame and single-pane glass. But in 2016, the best windows are packed full of cutting-edge features that serve the home and its occupants better than ever before. Still, “many homeowners don’t realize how much has changed,” according to Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services. Certainly, window replacement remains a popular improvement, but homeowners tend to pursue the project for the same reasons that motivated previous generations—that is, enhanced energy efficiency and improved aesthetics. “These are the expected benefits of installing new windows, and they are worthy goals,” Eldredge says. But when it comes to the current crop of windows, he adds, “there are plenty of additional incentives that go overlooked.” For details on three lesser-known advantages associated with new windows, keep reading now!




To stand the test of time—to look and perform their best over a span of decades—windows require care. How much? That depends on the frame. Older windows often need a lot of attention, not least because their wood frames should be refinished every three to five years to ward off rot and mold. Tired of all the hassle, many homeowners insist on replacement windows that demand little in the way of ongoing maintenance. Aluminum windows are popular for precisely that reason. Aluminum, however, is highly conductive and, as a result, doesn’t insulate very well. According to Eldredge, only vinyl offers the “best of both worlds”—the insulating capacity of wood and the easy-care virtues of aluminum. In fact, the Weatherbeater vinyl windows installed by Sears Home Services rarely need more than mere cleaning. Of course, cleaning a window can be a pain, as you well know if you’ve ever climbed a ladder to reach the glazing on an upper story. The good news? Quality modern windows, the Weatherbeater line included, feature tilt-in sashes, which provide easy access to the exterior glass, making cleaning a breeze and freeing up time for “the things you actually want to do,” Eldredge concludes.




Once upon a time, if you were to put your hand to a window on a cold day, the glass would feel as icy as the temperature outdoors. “You wouldn’t have the same experience today,” Eldredge says. With double- or even triple-paned construction, windows are able to deliver a degree of thermal performance increasingly on par with that of exterior walls. That said, some windows insulate better than others. Weatherbeater windows from Sears Home Services stand out in particular because the cavities between their panes are filled with argon, a denser-than-air gas that insulates even further. Such innovations help to eliminate drafts and minimize energy loss, enabling homeowners to enjoy more efficient, less expensive heating and cooling. Interestingly, though, many of the same features that benefit household efficiency also usher in a secondary benefit—they attenuate sound. Indeed, a window that blocks out uncomfortably cold or hot air also works to block out sound. Though homeowners rarely expect window replacement to result in a quieter, more serene indoor environment, “that’s often the first thing that the homeowner notices once the new windows go in,” Eldredge says.




Savvy homeowners know that window replacement—a major improvement project—typically calls for a correspondingly major investment of money. Hesitant over the high price? Don’t forget that you’re not the only one painfully aware of the costs involved—house hunters are too. In fact, it’s common for prospective buyers to walk away from homes whose windows would require replacement sooner rather than later. It’s unlikely that you’d make immediate plans to move after replacing your windows, but when it’s time to sell, “the preference for up-to-date windows can work to your advantage,” Eldredge remarks, and could result in a faster or more lucrative sale. In addition, bear in mind that while new windows may not be cheap, their purchase and installation isn’t a sunk cost. On the contrary, the upgrade adds considerable value—in fact, owners typically recoup more than half of what they put into the project, according to Eldredge. It’s true that not every home improvement offers a favorable return on investment, but window replacement does—especially when you take into account the fact that, as Eldredge notes, “high-performance windows help you to save each and every month on climate control,” in many cases the single greatest ongoing expense of homeownership.


If the scale of window replacement doesn’t intimidate you, and if the price tag doesn’t put you off, then it’s likely that the biggest source of stress you’ll encounter as you embark on this major project will be trying to find and hire professionals you trust. We’ve all heard plenty of horror stories about amateurs and crooks who either do a poor job or agree to do the work but never actually show up. As windows are critical to the integrity of any home, and because their performance depends on proper installation, it’s only prudent to do your due diligence and hire as responsibly as possible. Don’t know where to begin? You can start by scheduling a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services. Operating nationwide, with a long history of helping homeowners achieve their dreams of more beautiful, better-functioning homes, Sears can guide you through the entire process, from the selection of new windows to their on-time, on-budget installation. Providing peace of mind all the while is the fact that with Sears in your corner, you benefit from the company’s hallmark Satisfaction Guarantee—an assurance that, even once your new windows are in place, Sears remains committed to the long-term success of your project. Contact Sears Home Services today!


This article has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of

Bob Vila Radio: The Key to Choosing a New Front Door

Sure, good looks are important. But when it's time to pick out a new door, smart shoppers look at what's on the inside first. Read on to compare three popular options—and find out which door will help you save on your next energy bill.

When shopping for a new front door, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. First, your choice should complement the style and color of your home. More importantly, make sure it’s built to last! Ideally, the door should be weather-resistant and sturdy enough to withstand would-be intruders.


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Listen to BOB VILA ON CHOOSING A NEW FRONT DOOR or read below:

Many traditional homes feature wooden doors, and with good reason—it’s a style with classic curb appeal. But because the material is porous, cracks and gouges in the finish can let moisture in and cause warping. The other downside is maintenance: to keep that like-new look, you’ll be sanding, ­staining or repainting yours every few years for as long as you own the house.

In comparison, steel doors are cheaper, stronger, and do a better job of insulating than wood. Today’s options are even available with glass inserts and faux-wood finishes. If heavy metals aren’t your thing, there is another option—fiberglass, a dent-resistant material that won’t rot or rust. Of the three, fiberglass doors provide the best insulation, which will help trim your energy bills.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!


3 Things to Look For in Replacement Windows

If window replacement is in your future, it's time to read up on the latest in available features and materials.

Choosing Replacement Windows - Late Afternoon Main


Of all the components that go into residential construction, windows stand out as one of the few that heavily influence both the look of the home and its performance. But while windows are visible indoors and out, playing roles in interior design as well as outward curb appeal, people rarely install new windows for aesthetic reasons alone. Typically, says Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services, window-shopping homeowners are driven by practical concerns that include energy efficiency, maintenance, and security. If for any reason you’re now in the planning stages of a window replacement project, “your timing couldn’t be better,” Eldredge adds, noting that in recent years, window design and manufacturing have advanced by leaps and bounds. Today, the best windows boast an unprecedented degree of sophistication and offer a host of compelling new features. Some are minor—nice to have but nonessential. According to Eldredge, however, there are at least three features that are “worth it to insist on.” Read on to learn which are the most pivotal, and why.



Choosing Replacement Windows - Efficiency Features


“A good window is a poor wall”—that old saying goes back to the days when wood-framed, single-paned windows couldn’t compete with the thermal resistance of an insulated exterior wall. “That’s changing,” says Eldredge. There’s still no such thing as a perfect window, but many now boast best-ever efficiency. If you’re pursuing window replacement in an effort to conserve energy and control utility costs, Eldredge recommends “focusing only on windows with Energy Star certification,” like the Weatherbeater line installed by Sears Home Services. Weatherbeater windows are double-paned for added insulation, and argon, a denser-than-air gas injected in between the panes insulates even further. Another secret to the efficiency of modern windows: the use of a transparent, micro-thin layer of metal oxide, known as low-e coating. In the summer, low-e works to limit solar heat gain, while in winter, it prevents heat from escaping. Year-round, low-e protects rugs, upholstered furniture, and artwork from fading under the effects of ultraviolet sunlight. “It’s like sunscreen for your house,” Eldredge concludes.



Choosing Replacement Windows - Maintenance Needs


If they’re going to look great and perform well over the long term, windows require care. How much? That “depends a lot on the material composition of the frame,” Eldredge says. Wood, though beautiful, demands the most attention. Aluminum stands up comparatively well to the rigors of year-round exposure, but it falls short in other ways. For example, as it’s an extraordinarily effective conductor of heat, aluminum usually makes for a poor insulator. Vinyl manages to combine the best of both worlds—the look of wood and the durability of aluminum. It’s perhaps no surprise that, as Eldredge points out, “vinyl windows are increasingly the go-to choice.” A popular option from Sears Home Services, Weatherbeater vinyl windows require little more than occasional cleaning. Of course, nobody likes cleaning windows, but some—Weatherbeater included—facilitate the dreaded chore with tilt-in sashes that provide easy access to the exterior glass. Once you eliminate what was always the trickiest part of doing it the old-fashioned way, “window-cleaning gets a whole lot easier,” Eldredge says.



Choosing Replacement Windows - Safety and Security


You may live in an area where break-ins are rare, but it’s comforting to know your home can defend against would-be intruders, if necessary. “The trouble is that not every homeowner feels that way,” Eldredge says. Perhaps as a consequence, many customers who decide on window replacement do so for a simple reason—”they want to feel safer,” Eldredge says. In assessing the safety and security features of any given replacement window, “start with the hardware, including the locking mechanism,” Eldredge says, “but don’t ignore the glass.” Some types of glass are tougher than others. Upon impact, a traditional window shatters all too easily, leaving a gaping hole. But thanks to an interlayer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB), security glass boasts enhanced strength. You may need to ask for it; security glass typically doesn’t come standard. For example, among the window offerings from Sears Home Services, only the Weatherbeater Max line includes security glass. But while it may not be the right choice for everyone, there’s good reason to consider it if you’re concerned about crime or windblown debris in a storm.


Many pursue window replacement only once, if at all, in their tenure as homeowner. Unfamiliar territory for most, window replacement tends to provoke no small amount of anxiety. It’s a significant undertaking, both in terms of scope and consequences, and there are significant costs involved—not least because for all but the most ambitious do-it-yourselfers, the project entails hiring a pro. You can start by soliciting estimates from reputable contractors in your area—it’s never too early. Or, to explore your options further, you can go online now to schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services. Operating nationally, with a decades-long track record of success, Sears matches you with an expert coordinator, ready to walk you through the entire process, from the earliest stage of selecting a window to the final installation. Best of all, unlike local outfits, Sears provides a Satisfaction Guarantee. When you’re dealing with a component of your home as critical as its windows, it means a lot to work with a trusted brand. As Eldredge puts it, “There’s nothing like peace of mind.”

Choosing Replacement Windows - Homeowner Remodelers


This article has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of

Buyer’s Guide: Wireless Doorbells

Are you ready to upgrade your wired doorbell to an easy-to-install, portable option? Follow this shopping guide to find the best new chimes for your home.

Best Wireless Doorbell


Among the many advantages of high-tech home accessories is their ability to let us untangle ourselves from old-fashioned wired systems, granting us new-found flexibility and convenience, and simplifying our lives by leaps and bounds. Case in point: wireless doorbells. Unlike older models, these battery-powered units take mere minutes to install, repair, or even pack up when we move to a new house, making them an easy (and better yet, often inexpensive) upgrade worthy of homeowners’ attention. Today’s wireless doorbells come packaged with a host of modern conveniences, including enhanced home security and the ability to interact with guests from afar. When zeroing in on the best wireless doorbell for your abode, look for these must-have features—and then consider three top-rated models that combine all sorts of bells and whistles.

Choose the chime. Testing out the sounds that various doorbells make is perhaps the most fun and important part of the selection process. You’ll want a sound (or, in the case of most wireless doorbells, a collection of sounds) that won’t drive you batty every time a neighbor, mailman, or guest rings the bell. Fortunately, while traditional wire-reliant doorbells are typically limited to a single sound, a wireless system can offer dozens or even hundreds of options, including music and holiday themes, and even the ability to play files you’ve uploaded from your personal sound library, such as your own voice or a favorite song that isn’t already on the menu.

Materials matter. Generally speaking, budget doorbells are typically constructed of plastic and come in a variety of neutral colors to blend with your design, while luxury transmitters tend to be sleeker in design, with covers made from ceramic, metal, glass, wood, or plastic. And if your taste—or your home’s exterior or entry—changes over time, rest assured that the affordability and simple installation of a wireless doorbell make it an easy feature to update.

Be ever flexible. One of the biggest perks of a wireless doorbell is the portability of its parts. Without wires to root it, homeowners can take the entire system with them in a move, or pull the transmitter from its position to inspect and repair. Or, while the transmitter itself remains just outside your door, its indoor receivers can move throughout the home as needed—whether to avoid waking a sleeping child on the second floor, or to carry with you to the farther reaches of the house.

Likewise, while the sound of a traditional wired doorbell may be hard to hear in all corners of a large home, its wireless counterpart offers the flexibility of placing additional receivers in various locations around the house so you never miss a ring. Even larger homes may benefit from the slightly pricier long-range wireless doorbell, which increases the operating distance between transmitter and receiver from the standard 200 or 300 feet to nearly 3,000 feet.

Note: The only type of residence in which a wireless system might not work is one with walls made of stone, a solid material that’s likely to disrupt transmission. If that describes your situation, your home may be better suited for a wired bell.

Opt for the bells and whistles. After you’ve determined the basic functions that you need in a doorbell, there are still a plethora of perks offered by higher-end models that are worth consideration: flashing alerts for hearing-impaired homeowners, back-porch-friendly weatherproof receivers, and even built-in cameras to help you turn away unwanted guests remotely—handy to have if added security is top of mind. Any of these additions could take a doorbell out of the under-$100 range but could also—depending on your priorities—be well worth the extra expense.


Best Bets

After thoroughly comparing wireless doorbell reviews from consumers and publishers alike, we’ve rounded up three of the most highly rated models available today to help you find one that fits your home’s needs and your family’s budget. Check out the best wireless doorbells for busy households below.


Best Doorbell - SadoTech ModelC Wireless Doorbell


SadoTech Model C Wireless Doorbell ($20)
Looking for an easy choice that guarantees customer satisfaction? Take a cue from the 4,900 Amazon customers who left 5-star reviews for this affordable wireless model from SadoTech. Its budget-friendly price point and 500-foot range have made it a crowd favorite. The library of 50 chime options, a weatherproof transmitter, and choice of nine different colors—from neutrals to rainbow brights—are all cherries on top. Available on Amazon.


Best Doorbell - Honeywell Decor Series Wireless Door Chime


Honeywell Décor Series Wireless Door Chime ($66)
This mid-priced model is both affordable and attractive, with a wood and satin nickel receiver that mounts either horizontally or vertically to make a handsome addition to any entryway. There’s more to this model than merely good looks, thanks to a handful of benefits that make it stand out from its simpler contemporaries. For starters, it connects with up to six other Honeywell devices, including motion detectors and window/door contacts, for added security, features a respectable 450-foot transmitter range, and provides six chime options, all of which make this system a very strong contender in the under-$100 category. Available at


Best Doorbell - Skybell HD WiFi Video Doorbell


Skybell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell ($200)
Earning top marks from the discerning review team at The Sweet Home, the Skybell wireless doorbell offers a much more visual experience than the standard ring. When a guest presses the buzzer, homeowners are alerted by a chime throughout the home as well as a notification, including a high-definition video feed, on the corresponding mobile app. See, hear, and even speak with the person on the other end before you get to the door! The system also includes motion detection and package delivery alerts, as well as the ability to record suspicious activity outside your door. Available from

So, You Want to… Install a Screen Door

Here’s everything you need to know about selecting, installing, and maintaining this summertime essential.

How to Install a Screen Door


Breezes in, bugs out—functionally speaking, the screen door hasn’t changed much in the past hundred years or so. Different types, however, and their varying price points have emerged in more recent times. If you’re in the market for one to separate your indoor and outdoor spaces, read this before you shop. You’ll find all the guidance needed for selecting and installing a screen door that’s ideal for your house and budget.

Screen Doors vs. Storm Doors
Screen doors are different from storm doors, though the terms are often erroneously used interchangeably. Storm doors, as the name implies, are designed as barriers against inclement weather. Though their frames are rugged (made of steel, vinyl, or aluminum), they may have a screen along with a sliding glass panel to let air pass through at your discretion. Standard screen doors, however, aren’t intended for heavy duty. If you’re looking for protection against the elements, opt for a specialized storm door.

How to Install a Screen Door


Types of Screen Doors
Three varieties of screen doors exist to supplement the myriad of home entrances.

• Perhaps the most familiar style, one known to go hand-in-hand with a picturesque front porch, the traditional type fits in the outer portion of an exterior doorjamb and opens outwards. Purely functional, bare-bones models are suited to side or backyard entries, yet you can certainly find a stylish one to complement a front door. These traditional screen doors come in standard sizes and are typically made of wood, although aluminum and vinyl versions are available.

• Some homeowners prefer a retractable screen for a front door. Based on the principle of pull-down window blinds, the retractable screen is stored in a spring-loaded casing, positioned either at the side or at the top of the doorframe. You pull it across or down when you want to leave a door open to get a breeze and block bugs. It’s appealing for a front entrance, since it’s all but invisible and won’t interfere with curb appeal.

• Finally, there are slider screen doors that install on the exterior track of a sliding patio door. While some patio doors do come with sliding screens, you can find add-on options for an existing sliding door.

Pick Your Price
You can find a traditional screen door made of unfinished pine for around $30, while low-end vinyl and aluminum models start at around $50. If you’re looking for stainable hardwood or an ornate design, the cost could go as high as $200.

Retractable screens start at around $30 but these cheaper models don’t offer sidetracks, leading you to potentially deal with gaps at the edges. High-end models, running $500 or more, have a variety of bells and whistles, including secure tracks, motorized remote-control operation, and double-door protection for French doors.

Sliding screen panels for patio doors start around $40 and come in standard sizes, but not all sliding doors accept generic screens. Check with the manufacturer of your patio door to determine if you need to order a custom screen, which could run upwards of $100.

Make Sure to Measure
Screen doors come in standard sizes. For a traditional screen door, measure the door you’ll be pairing it with and purchase a screen door in a matching size. If you have an off-size door, consider purchasing the next size larger wooden model and cutting it to fit. Most, but not all, retractable screens require measuring the inside of the doorjamb. Read manufacturer’s measuring instructions (usually posted on the outside of the box) to be sure. For a sliding patio door, measure the door panel that slides and purchase a corresponding screen panel.

Screen Door Installation
Because models vary so, installing a screen door entirely depends on the variety you’ve chosen for your home. Many homeowners are drawn to the traditional screen door for its simplicity, as it requires little more than attaching the hinges and pull-handle with the screws that come included. You’ll need a drill with a bit slightly smaller than the screws, a screwdriver bit, a tape measure, and a pencil for marking where to drill pilot holes. Install the hinges at the same level as the upper and lower door hinges, or about eight inches from the top and also from the bottom. Similarly, the handle should be placed at the same height as the exterior doorknob. Use shims, as needed, under the hinges to center the screen door in the jamb. (It’s standard to leave a 1/8-inch gap around the sides and the top, and a 3/8-inch gap, or larger, at the bottom.)

Most traditional screen doors are universal, meaning you can install them to open on the either the right or the left, depending on your preference. The spring that holds the door closed installs midway on the door, typically behind the push bar, on hooks, so you can remove it when you want to open the door all the way.

Retractable screen installation differs by type and brand, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, you’ll use the same tools needed for traditional screen door installation, but if you’re attaching a bottom track to a concrete or brick porch, you’ll also need a masonry bit and concrete screws. Some higher-end retractable screens do require professional installation.

Last but not least, installing a screen door that slides is all about track placement: Position the door in the exterior track and lift it up to hook the rollers in the upper track runner. When it’s in the right spot, it should slide smoothly.

How to Install a Screen Door


Seal and Secure
Most wooden screen doors come painted, but often the top and bottom edges are raw wood. Sealing the raw edges with exterior paint that matches the door before installation will prevent premature weathering. If you purchase an unfinished door, paint the whole thing with quality exterior paint, or stain it and brush or spray on a coat of spar varnish to keep it looking new. Vinyl and aluminum screen doors require no additional weatherproofing.

If the bottom of the screen door has a large gap, consider installing a door sweep. Available at most any hardware store, this add-on attaches to the bottom of the door to keep out dust and crawly bugs.

After installation, enjoy the easy, breezy nature of your new screen door—and don’t let it hit you on your way out!


Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.

3 Reasons to Love Sliding Glass Doors

Brighten up your interior spaces and gain convenient, expansive access to the outdoors with the addition of a sliding glass door.

Adding a Sliding Door


With each passing year, it seems like homeowners spend more and more time outside on the deck, porch, or patio, entertaining friends and family or simply relaxing with a book. Indeed, according to Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services, “It seems like outdoor living has never been more popular.” Even so, Eldredge continues, “There are many ways in which homeowners today aren’t so different from previous generations.” As in the past, most still want to live in a bright, airy environment and enjoy generous views. These similarities between homeowners of today and yesteryear help to explain the renewed popularity of sliding glass doors. Perhaps no other upgrade does so much to satisfy both the current popularity of outdoor living and our timeless desire to feel a connection with nature. Sliding glass doors not only provide physical access out to the yard, but they also invite in the light, air, sights, and sounds of the great outdoors, eroding the boundary between a home and its surroundings. “You get the best of both worlds,” Eldredge remarks. Without sacrificing any of the comfort and convenience you enjoy indoors, you gain a redefined, dramatically closer relationship between interior and exterior space. Continue reading to learn more about the compelling factors that motivate so many to open up their homes with a new sliding glass door.



Adding a Sliding Door - Light Concept


In a typical sliding door, glass comprises most of the surface area, allowing the panel to admit a profusion of natural light. For that reason, Eldredge says, sliding doors hold great appeal for a wide range of homeowners. After all, “Not many of us want to live in the dark.” Beyond delivering the practical advantages of daylight, sliding glass doors can also have an impact on the perception of a space. More light, combined with better sight lines, often makes a room with a sliding glass door feel larger than it really is. Despite the many benefits of a sliding glass door, however, Eldredge cautions that there can also be cons. Much depends on the model of door you choose. Before purchasing, be sure to check the thermal performance of any door on your radar, he advises. Doors from Sears Home Services, for example, come with a special metal oxide coating that successfully limits heat transmission. Known as a low-E coating, the transparent, micro-thin layer reflects heat away in summer while trapping it indoors during the winter. Low-E coatings can also minimize the fading and bleaching effects of UV rays. “It’s like sunscreen for your house,” Eldredge says, and for a budget-minded homeowner seeking to cut monthly cooling and heating costs, “it’s a key technology you may not be able to afford to do without.”



Adding a Sliding Door - Ventilation Concept


In the past, a sliding glass panel probably held a single pane of glass, but today multiple panes are the norm. To underline the point, Eldredge explains that sliding glass doors installed by Sears Home Services typically boast dual panes, affording a level of insulation similar to that of an exterior wall, at least when the doors are closed. On days when the weather permits, meanwhile, sliding glass doors open up to provide a breath of fresh air, literally. “Homeowners love that,” Eldredge explains. “There’s still nothing like exposure to the breezes and natural conditions outdoors.” But nature can be a foe as well as a friend, taking a toll on a sliding glass door. Which is why Eldredge urges homeowners to take maintenance into account as they evaluate sliding glass doors. “Unless you have time and energy you can devote to its care, stick with a door that doesn’ t need a lot of attention.” Wood-frame doors are notoriously finicky, requiring at the very least periodic painting or staining. Aluminum “offers easy care at low cost,” but it doesn’t insulate very well. Sears Home Services installs only vinyl-frame doors because, according to Eldredge, vinyl combines “the low-maintenace virtues of aluminum with the insulating capacity of wood.” As it demands only occasional cleaning and resists many of the challenges that threaten other door materials, “vinyl may be your best bet,” Eldredge concludes.



Adding a Sliding Door - Security Glass


You’re cooking dinner in the kitchen and planning to eat outside in the yard with your family. It’s a delicious proposition, but it can be a recipe for frustration if you need to travel a long, circuitous route, serving platters in hand, from the kitchen to the table. Many homeowners decide to install a sliding glass door simply because the upgrade provides direct and accommodating access to the outdoor living area. It’s not only a matter of convenience, though. “Physical distance between living areas indoors and out only reinforces the perception of the two as separate and apart,” Eldredge explains. A sliding glass door can erase that distinction, encouraging the homeowner to view the deck, porch, or patio as a natural, accessible extension of the home’s square footage. Remember, however, that while a sliding door gives a family a new way in and out of the home, it does the same for would-be intruders. As well, because their panels are composed largely of glass, sliding doors can be a liability in severe storms that generate wind-borne debris. To address security concerns, storm vulnerabilities, or both, Eldredge suggests that some homeowners may want to specify the use of security glass. Sears Home Services “routinely installs patio doors with security glass enhanced by an interlayer of polyvinyl butyral,” Eldredge says, referring to a resin that lends additional strength. It “may not be for everyone,” Eldredge notes, but under certain circumstances, it’s “a must.”


While pretty much anyone can understand the tremendous appeal of a sliding glass door and its ability to create lighter, brighter interiors that are better connected to their surroundings, not just anyone has the skills required to install one. This is an undertaking where you really need to know what you’re doing. Even for the most ambitious do-it-yourselfer, installing a sliding glass door can be complicated, labor-intensive, and time-consuming. For most homeowners, therefore, the first step in putting in a sliding glass door typically involves finding and hiring a qualified contractor. You can look for one in your area or get going right away by scheduling a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services. A nationwide company that’s also a household name, Sears offers a proven, decades-long track record and a demonstrated commitment to quality results. Plus, for your peace of mind, the company always backs up its work with a Satisfaction Guarantee—an assurance that from the earliest stages of the process all the way to final installation and beyond, Sears remains committed to your success. “A home upgrade shouldn’t be a home headache,” Eldredge says. Fortunately, with Sears in your corner, you’ll need to concentrate on nothing more than the benefits of a brand-new sliding glass door. Everything else? “Just leave all of that to us,” Eldredge says.

Adding a Sliding Door - Backyard Patio Area


This article has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of

Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for a DIY Door

Transforming a basic set of door plans into a grand entrance—be it to the house or to the closet—takes less effort than you might imagine. Come right in and check out these inspiring do-it-yourself constructions.

At its core, a door’s construction is mostly the same; learn to build one, and you can fashion as many as your home has doorways. The small details like color, texture, and hardware distinguish the designs: These can take a door design from suburban to rustic, traditional to modern, or subtle to bold. Whether you’re hoping to build a grand entrance to your home or covering a more private space like a bedroom closet, these five inventive ideas for how to build a door will open the metaphorical door to all of the possibilities for your next weekend project.


How to Build a Door - Screen Door from The DIY Dreamer


A screen door outside a front or back entrance is a must, especially in temperate climates where homes truly benefit from a passing breeze. Stuck without one for her own abode, The DIY Dreamer Christine and her crafty team of helpers measured, sketched out, cut, and assembled 1×6 and 1×8 lumber into a simple frame design to fit the front door. Molding hides where they secured the screen for a professional touch, and a cheerful coat of pistachio green sets the door apart from all the rest on her block.


How to Build a Door - Dutch Door from Just Beachy


If you share your home with children or pets, you likely know the value of a baby gate: It can be a lifesaver when you need need to keep an eye (or an ear) on your favorite small creatures from another space. A set of Dutch doors offers builds this function right into your door frame for an even more elegant solution. Rather than replace the existing door altogether, blogger Chris Kauffman of Just Beachy discovered how to work with what you’ve got. By cutting her door in two, lowering the doorknob to the bottom swinging portion, and installing a sliding latch to unify the pieces, overhauling her old door cost only $30 and the extra attention to detail.


How to Build a Door - Sliding Door from

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Particularly perfect for homes where space is a commodity, sliding doors (also known as barn doors) create additional space for you to by freeing up the 90-degree “pie piece” that otherwise has to be kept clear in order for a hinged door to swing open. Fearless DIYer Ama of Ohoh Blog constructed this dark chocolate-colored door with sanded 8-foot lumber and door pulls, then hung it with hitch rings from a wall-mounted curtain rod. The rubber casters fastened to its bottom provides just the mobility to pull open or shut.


How to Build a Door - "Salvaged" Closet Door by Jenna Sue Design Co.


To punch up a cookie-cutter interior door with more color, texture, and personality, consider adding some character by reworking its facade. Here, Jenna Sue Design starts sprucing up what she calls the “cheap-o hollow core synthetic wood deal” that covers her coat closet using a cemented-on sheet of faux wood veneer. The depth created with vertical and horizontal plywood panels, a blend of stains, and a good sanding take the door the extra mile to a convincingly worn and weathered look. The resulting charm complements neutral farmhouse decor and the rest of the entryway’s shabby chic aesthetic.


How to Build a Door - Barn Door by Beneath My Heart


Fed up with uninspired folding doors? That’s just the feeling that prompted this transformation from Traci of Beneath My Heart, whose ranch-turned-polished farmhouse was anything but average. She tore the closet’s eyesores from their track to switch to the swinging variety. Sheets of bead board, two pairs of gate hinges, and door pulls spray painted black to match make a starting set of plain-Jane hollow core doors simply unrecognizable.


DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.

How To: Remove and Replace a Doorknob

Hidden screws may make this task seem mysterious. The right tools—and this guide—turn it into a simple matter.

How to Remove a Doorknob - With Hidden Screws


We think of a doorknob as ubiquitous and mundane, yet a closer inspection can sometimes prove puzzling, leaving you to wonder, Where are the screws that hold it in place? They’re there, all right, if not outright visible then hidden beneath the cosmetic collar known as the “rose.” Removing and replacing the knob requires you to reach these screws without damaging the door.

But before you can tackle the easy-enough-to-DIY chore, first understand the types of doorknobs on the market: Most modern, standard-issue doorknobs are sold as a lockset, complete with all necessary hardware—knob, rose, spindle, latch (also called a striker), and latch plate. Some of these knobs have recessed hex-head screws, reachable with a compatible Allen wrench. Others have a thin hole through which you insert a firm wire (a straightened-out paper clip is perfect) to press on a spring-activated pin called a detent; this releases the knob from the spindle or shaft that connects both knobs through the latch assembly. On still other knobs, the detent access hole is actually a slot; use a thin, flat-head screwdriver to reach the detent with this type. Determining which category your existing knob falls into will dictate the best way to remove and replace it for a more updated style.

How to Remove a Doorknob - Pieces and Parts


- Allen wrench
- Paper clip or firm wire
- Small flat-head screwdriver
- Phillips screwdriver
- New lockset

How to Remove a Doorknob


Know your knob. Examine the lock side of the doorknob, looking for a tiny slot or hole; these are the detent access holes. Don’t see it? Check instead for a recessed screw that you’ll loosen with an Allen wrench of the appropriate size.

Now, to how you go about releasing the knob depends on how it’s fastened.
• If you find a slot, insert the flat-head screwdriver and push the detent to release the knob.
• If you find a small hole, use a straightened paperclip or other firm wire to spring it.
• If dealing with a recessed hex-head screw, turn it counterclockwise with an Allen wrench until the knob is free.

Remove the rose. In some cases, the rose must be removed separately in order to expose the screws that hold the backing plate to the door. If that’s the case, locate the thin slot in the seam between the plate and door, insert the tip of a flat-head screwdriver, and pop off the rose.

Then, unscrew the works. Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws that run from one backing plate to its opposite through the bore hole. These screws hold the entire knob and latch assembly together. Remove the old knobs, backing plates, latch, and spindle.

Replace the latch plate, the piece of metal attached to the door jamb through which the latch passes when the door is completely closed (also called a strike plate). Even if it looks fine, you’ll need to remove and replace it, using a Phillips screwdriver, to ensure compatibility with the new knob hardware.

Install the new latch, ensuring that the curved side of the striker faces the same way the original one did so the door latches properly.

Set the new knob in place, starting from the outside, or locking side, of the door. (The rose might be part of the knob assembly, or it might need to be installed separately, before the knob itself.) Repeat on the inside knob. Position the spindle and mounting screws through the latch assembly from the outside and into the base of the opposite knob. Tighten all screws using a Phillips head screwdriver. Slide the knob on the end of the spindle and turn it until the detent clicks into alignment with the access slot or hole. Tighten recessed screws with the Allen wrench if necessary.

Knock, knock! Who’s there? Your brand new doorknob, looking great and functioning smoothly.