Buyer’s Guide: Find the Best Storm Doors (That Perfectly Suit Your Home)

Keep out pests while letting light into your home with the best storm doors.

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The Best Storm Doors for the Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

When the sweltering heat of summer gives way to the golden glow of autumn, it’s time to open the doors and welcome natural light and fresh air into your home. Of course, an open door also invites flying insects, creepy crawlies, and other potential pests—that’s where a good storm door comes in. Not only does a storm door block bugs while letting in light, but it also serves as an insulating layer against both hot and cold air when paired with the exterior door.

If you’re in the market for a storm door, read on for the features you should consider as you shop and to review some of the best storm doors available today.

  1. BEST ¾-VIEW:: EMCO 400 Series Aluminum Anytime Storm Door
  2. BEST FULL-VIEW: LARSON Tradewinds Full-View Aluminum Storm Door
  3. BEST FOR EASY INSTALLATION: Pella Rolscreen Full-View Aluminum Storm Door
  4. BEST FOR PET OWNERS: EMCO K900 Series Vinyl Self-Storing Pet Storm Door
The Best Storm Doors for the Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

Know What You Need: Storm Door vs. Screen Door

While some people use the terms interchangeably, there’s a difference between a screen door and a storm door. Screen doors let in air and light while keeping bugs at bay. Storm doors do the same but are generally a bit sturdier and, while they often have a screen, they also add an extra layer of protection in the form of glass against rain, snow, and wind. Storm doors are more likely to enhance front door design.

RELATED: Know Your Door Styles: 10 Popular Designs

Choosing the Best Storm Door

Storm Door Material Types

Most storm doors are made from lightweight aluminum over a rigid foam core, but steel- and vinyl-clad storm doors are also available, as well as those with a wood core. Higher-end storm doors can be nearly as attractive as entry doors and serve as a valuable asset when considering front door ideas and plans.

  • Vinyl-clad storm doors are inexpensive and stand up well to snow, ice, and rain, but the baked-in color has a tendency to fade over time if they’re on the sunny side of the house. When choosing a vinyl-clad storm door, opt for a fade-resistant light color like white or almond.
  • Steel-clad storm doors are rugged and long lasting, strong enough to hold up to the bumps and slams of an active family without denting. They come in a variety of colors.
  • Aluminum is nearly as durable as steel, but it’s more lightweight, making this the most popular storm door material in today’s market. Aluminum-clad storm doors are available in a variety of colors.
  • Wood-core storm doors feature vinyl, steel, or aluminum over a wood frame. They are budget-friendly but not quite as sturdy as other options.

Storm Door Styles

Storm doors feature a variety of glass-panel options either to let in as much light as possible or to block light at the bottom of the door and let it in only at the top. A number of design options are available.

  • Full-view storm doors feature a narrow frame around the perimeter and a full-length glass panel. While a few full-view doors include a single pane of glass, most offer two panes: one on the top and one on the bottom. The top pane slides down to open the window, and a retractable screen then covers the opening.
  • Half-view storm doors are solid on the bottom half but feature one or two glass panes on the top that operate in a self-storage manner similar to a full-view storm door.
  • French storm doors are designed to fit standard French patio doors. They feature double storm doors that can be either full-view or half-view. Like other storm doors, they protect the main doors from the elements.
  • High-view storm doors are solid except for a glass panel at the top for those who desire more privacy. These doors may be self-storage or the window may be fixed in place.

Other Design Details

Virtually all of today’s storm door glass is tempered, meaning that, if broken, it will shatter into tiny pieces rather than dangerously sharp shards. Some storm doors feature double panes and include low-emissivity (Low-E) glass to block heat transfer and conserve energy. Storm doors offer plain glass panels or etched, frosted, or stained glass. Some even boast double glass panels with operable mini-blinds between the panes.

The two most common storm door colors are almond and white, but custom doors are available in a variety of colors, such as brown, evergreen, brick, sandstone, and many more, to complement the exterior aesthetic of a wide variety of homes. While some storm doors include a handle set, others require a separate purchase. Storm doors with built-in pet openings are suitable for animal lovers who want to let their furry family members come and go as they please.

Our Top Picks

The best storm doors allow plenty of light into a home, while still protecting its inhabitants from the elements. All of the top picks below fit standard 80-inch-tall existing entryways and feature an operable window and screen option.

Best ¾-View

The Best Storm Door Option: EMCO 400 Series Aluminum Anytime Storm Door
Photo: homedepot.com

To let in plenty of light but have more privacy than with a full-view storm door, consider EMCO’s ¾-View Aluminum Storm Door. It comes in 32-, 34-, 36-, and 38-inch widths and is available in six colors. Manufactured from lightweight aluminum, this storm door can be mounted to open on the right or the left and features a retractable screen that rolls into the top of the doorframe when not in use. Its two glass panes feature clear glass, with optional colonial grills for a traditional look, and a choice of a nickel or a brass handle set.

Best Full-View

The Best Storm Door Option: LARSON Tradewinds Full-View Aluminum Storm Door
Photo: lowes.com

Alternatively, to see as much of the outside world as possible, check out the Tradewinds Full-View Aluminum Storm Door from Larson. It’s available in 32-, 34-, and 36-inch widths and comes in six colors. This storm door features lightweight aluminum and a retractable screen that pulls down to let in a fresh breeze. It can be mounted to open either on the right or the left side, though the handle set is a separate purchase.

Best for Easy Installation

The Best Storm Door Option: Pella Rolscreen Full-View Aluminum Storm Door
Photo: lowes.com

Those concerned about DIY installation should consider Pella’s Rolscreen Full-View Aluminum Storm Door, which boasts an exclusive Express Install system that makes short, simple work out of either a right or left opening installation. This lightweight aluminum door comes in 32- and 36-inch widths and is available in multiple colors. It also includes a retractable screen and features Low-E glass panels to reduce heat transfer and conserve energy. The Pella handle set is sold separately.

Best for Pet Owners

The Best Storm Door Option: EMCO K900 Series Vinyl Self-Storing Pet Storm Door
Photo: homedepot.com

To allow a pet plenty of freedom, EMCO’s K900 Series White Vinyl Storm Door features a convenient 10.5-inch by 15-inch pet door at the bottom. It also provides easy-to-clean vinyl cladding over a durable composite core, half-view glass panels, and a removable screen panel. The door can be installed for either a left or right opening. A black handle set is included, but the door is available only in a white finish.

Storm Door Installation: How to Fit a Storm Door

Sizing Specs

Storm doors come in standard sizes to fit entry doors. To ensure the right size, measure the height and width of the existing entry door. Standard exterior doors are 80 inches tall, but the width can vary. While most entry doors are 36 inches wide, some are either 34 or 38 inches wide. Most back and side doors are 32 inches wide.

Opening Options

Many storm doors are reversible, meaning they can be installed to open either on the right side or the left side. For example, if a storm door is labeled as “right-opening,” that means the handle is on the right side when facing the door from outside the home. Users often prefer a storm door to open on the same side as the entry door.

What’s in the Box?

Unlike exterior entry doors, storm doors do not come pre-hung in their jambs. Rather, they are a boxed kit that includes the door, a top jamb (drip cap), a hinge jamb, a latch jamb, installation instructions, and a closer, which is a pneumatic bar that allows the door to close slowly without slamming shut.

The Installation Process

Storm door installation is a relatively simple DIY task that involves the following steps:

  1. Install the drip cap. This is a narrow strip that fits above the storm door and shields the top of the door from rain.
  2. Attach the hinge rail. One of two “Z-bars,” this is the vertical section of the doorframe opposite the handle. It attaches with screws to the entry door jamb.
  3. Set the storm door. Position the door in the opening and attach the hinges with screws. Test the door to see that it opens and closes smoothly. If it doesn’t, the hinge rail may need to be adjusted either higher or lower.
  4. Attach the latch bar. This is the second Z-bar, and it installs on the latch side of the door.
  5. Install the handle set. A couple of screws are usually sufficient.