Double Screen Doors – Double Challenges

My apartment #2 tenant requested to add a screen door to the upstairs room that has a double door opening to the terrace. The double door means two screen doors. Then it’s the added complexity of keeping the doors fixed in position when they are closed. This means that there needs to be something like a post in the middle for the doors to latch on. This post can’t be too wide or the wide opening of the double door loses its appeal. And yet it can’t be too narrow either or it lose its function of holding on to the screen doors, resulting in rattling when heavy winds blow. For some reasons, my other unit #1 has the double screen doors but were poorly installed; it has a a post that allow the hook hinges to latch on – not very steady. I didn’t plan to follow the same scheme.

When shopping at Home Depot, I considered installing a re-tractable screen door. They were nice and easy to install and do not require an ugly post in the middle but they were quite expensive. Two re-tractable screen doors will add up to nearly $400, compared to $100 for two regular 36″-wide screen doors. I would buy it if it were for me to enjoy but not for my tenants. I ended up buying the two inexpensive screen doors plus a 1″x2″x80″ post (~$5). The materials costs me just over $100 after tax.

On the day of installation, I fumbled around and ended up installing on the inside edge of the door way instead of outside. This wasted me roughly 1 hour to re-install. Then I had the original idea of mounting the post with nails nailed at a angle. This turned out to be a bad idea as the pounding of the nails was too noisy and the wood was too stubborn and the door frame too soft (due to the overhang nature of the terrace) to allow nails to drive through. I then gave up that day to re-think. Upon further thought, I decided to use 4x L-shape brackets ($2) to mount the post.

On the next day, I managed to mount the post with the L-shape brackets and then adjusted the screen door width to fit within the opening between the post and the door frame. This didn’t take too long once I had the post as the anchor. Installing the door handles was another challenge. Turns out the door handle push-stem needs to be trimmed by 1/4″ because it’s a 5/8″ width door not the other kinds the manufacturer offer. Thanks to the fine print at the bottom of the instructions. This mis-step took my another half hour to figure out.

I didn’t install the spring mechanism to keep the screen closed automatically because based on my experience it breaks fairly easily and it’s a nuisance when the screen keeps trying to close. I would have spent another hours installing the spring mechanisms if I chose to install them.

To finish it up, I installed the door latch hook on the post and primed the post to maintain the color scheme. Overall, I spent roughly 6 hours installing the double screen doors between the two days. It was quite a learning experience and challenge for me. I’m glad to do this – once. Let’s see how long the screen doors would last.