Monday, June 8, 2009

DIY: build your own screen door

The new screen door was installed this weekend. We are so proud of how nicely it turned out. Following is, well, the longest post ever on Cottage of Stone, but we thought we'd share with everyone the process of building our door... in case anyone ever needs to make their own!

First of all, part of the "uniqueness" of owning an old home is that you will find your doors and windows are not the "standard" size. All the screen doors they sell at Home Depot are a foot too short for our massive front door. Rather than spend $500 or more on a custom one via the internet, we (and by "we," I mean "I") decided we (and by "we," I mean "Steven") should build one.

I drew out a basic design for my door. I knew I didn't want a cross-support piece on it. I felt it would break up the door, and the glass door we have is a rectangle. I wanted the screen door to echo that. I decided on using dowels and L-brackets, as well as a double-decker door, to make sure this massive door would be sturdy enough.

A super-helpful employee at Home Depot helped me pick out the best kind of wood, as well as explained how the dowel jig set-up worked. Once we bought all the materials, Steven got to work. First, he cut the boards for the "inside" frame of the door. I wanted to use dowels, so he butt-jointed instead of mitering:
Once the pieces were cut, he used the dowel set-up to drill the holes for the dowels. Here he is using a rubber mallet and one of the "pointy" things to mark where to drill:

The "pointy" thing leaves a mark to show you where to set up the dowel jig for drilling the holes:

Here is a board with the holes drilled and ready for dowels:

A job for me! I glued the dowels in:

Steven uses a clamp to keep everything tight while the glue dries:

After the glue is set up, we chisel out where the L-brackets will go. If we had a fancy router, we'd have used that... but we don't... so we took turns hand-chiseling the wood out:

We painted the wood and attached the brackets with screws:

Once the "inside" part of the door was built, Steven cut the pieces for the "outside" part of the door. This was all made from the wood you find in the fancy millwork section of the store:

Everything tested fitted? Check! Time to attach. When in doubt, we pre-drill! I remember someone on another blog complaining that they kept splitting the trim pieces they were using and ended up just using glue. Glue is not a permanent solution. Pre-drilling will save your sanity by keeping the wood from splitting and using a clamp will keep things from slipping around:

Once everything is countersunk, a little wood filler and sanding makes everything look clean. Just add paint! That black piece you see here is what is going to keep our screen in place. I wanted to build a removable screen - in case one of the kids accidentally tore it or something:

An inner trim piece with fancy beading detail is added and painted black (still wet and shiny here):

The only annoying part of the job for Steven was assembling the screen. He had to add extension pieces to the sides since our door is so tall. Once he got the frame assembled, he used a screen tool to push the cord (and screen) into the frame:

Once the cord was all in, he trimmed the excess screen off:

He is working so hard!

Final touch-up painting:
And Steven installs the hardware. This antique (Victorian) doorknob we rescued from a house that was being demolished. A coat of flat black paint and it is gorgeous:

Steven sprayed the hinges black, too. We used spring-loaded hinges that are self-closing... so we didn't have to install one of those long springs. I worried about pinched little fingers:

Little spinny things hold the screen in place. If we need to make a repair, it pops right out:
And here it is in place! Look close inside and you can see my dining room all torn apart. I am in the middle of plaster repair:

And a shot of what it look like with the glass door closed:


Tammy of Yarborough House said...

Sara Beth,
You did awesome and I mean you did awesome designing and your hubby did awesome executing your design.
I understand the whole non-standard door items. We live in a 1929 so it happens here too. Gotta love salvage yards and such.
I love how it looks might have to do that for my sisters 1898 as she needs a new back screen and well it isn't standard either :)
good job.

Imseeingraggedies Nutt said...

LOVE your new screen door!!! Love your victorian doorknob! And to think it may have been scrapped!

niartist said...

Great job on the door. It really works well with your house - and I bet you're glad you have such a handy hubby around. Thankfully, I didn't have to build my door - just do some sanding and chiseling to make it work in the wonky eye-levellng they did when they built the house in 1921. Have you considered painting your screws black? Great work!

puck said...

I am sure Steven considered it, but since he went through the trouble of buying brass screws instead of galvanized, he is probably wanting it to naturally patina. I don't mind it, although I am not a fan of shiny metal.

niartist said...

When I put my door on, I used oil rubbed bronze hinges, not the spring action hinges that you have, but just regular hinges. It's not that I'm against them - I couldn't figure out how to attach them ... so I bought oil rubbbed bronze screws. They weren't really any more expensive than the galvanized, but when it really made that whole area sorta finished ... you know? Then when I faux painted the handle I also faux painted those screws. When you're standing, looking at the door, it looks like it's always been there - because it looks like it has weathered together over time. I just thought I'd ask if it was something you might have considered ...

Livinia Redlips said...

Great job you two - It looks gorgeous.

Autum said...

I know this is an old post, but I wanted to thank you! I want to put a screen door on my pantry, but the existing door is only 24" wide. I googled how to build a screen door because like you, We (I) decided we (the hubby) should try building one.
The first page of search results were not very helpful and written by men. When I saw the link to a blog, I knew I'd find instructions that made sense to me and I did. We (I) thank you so much! Now we (the hubby) can build a screen door for the pantry. Yay!

puck said...

I am glad it helped you out! All the projects we do can be done by anyone -- you just have to dive right in!

Sam said...

This door is awesome! I have to make one over Christmas break & I like how you did this compared to other door making articles I've looked at.

So does the little piece of black trim keep the screen from falling though the front?

puck said...

Yep. It keeps it from going thru the front.

I am glad I thought to add the little swively things on the back because we have had to remove the screen for cleaning and repair. If we would have built it in, it would be a nightmare. It is nice to pop it out and spray it down to clean on the dust.

We also ended up upgrading the screen to a pet-proof one, due to the stray cats scratching it up.