Preview - Exterior French Doors: Hang Screen Doors - Fine Homebuilding Video
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Exterior French Doors: Hang Screen Doors


We’re getting ready to install the screen doors. Step No. 1: Read the instructions.

Read the instructions, lay out all of the hardware, and make sure you have all the parts and pieces before you get started. It makes your job a lot easier.

The bulb seal is kind of wiggly. Lay it out and clamp it to your worksurface so that it’s nice and straight, and you can measure it with your tape and then trim it to the length you need. Install the bulb at the top of the door opening, on the exterior. Measure the side lengths of the door opening and cut more bulb seal to that length. Install it.

Next, put the hinges on the passive-side screen door. Lay a piece of cardboard down on the worksurface and place the screen on top. The wide stile is the bottom. I make pencil marks on the left side of the door so that I don’t put the hinges on the wrong side.

When I’m laying out the hardware, I’m very methodical and put the right fasteners with the right hardware. This way, I don’t get mixed up and use the wrong part in the wrong place.

Set the clutch on the gun at around 4 to prevent stripping out the hinge screws.

The instructions call for a rubber mallet; I didn’t bring one. I don’t want to damage the hinges as I set them onto the frame, so I’m going to make myself a rubber mallet. I wrap a small piece of flexible flashing on the end of a hammer. Rubber mallet!

I’ve got a template supplied by the manufacturer that tells where to set the first hinge. Place the template on the side of the door frame, at the top. At the bottom of the template, set the first hinge and tap it into place with the rubber mallet. Pilot out the holes and set a couple of screws in.

I’ve got the top hinge on, so I’ll use that to register the door. And then the bottom hinge goes where it needs to go.

Now that the first door is up, we’ll do the same process for the right-side door.

After both doors are up, the instructions say to take the passive door off and install an astragal. So, take off the passive door, lay it on the worksurface, and, from the inside of the screened panel, install the astragal. Line up the astragal at the bottom and pull it tight. The door has a slot in it that tells me whether I need to make an adjustment in or out. Put the hole right in the middle and set the screw; it’ll give a little room to make any adjustments.

Install a catch for the passive door. Set it on the astragal and drill out two pilot holes. The catch is installed with two little rivets. Set the rivets in the catch and place them against the drilled-out holes. Use a hammer against a siding nailer punch to set the rivets and catch in place.

This is pretty standard screen door hardware. Install the spring skinny side in. Set the exterior and interior handles on the door and screw them into place. I’ve got to drill a hole dead center in the exterior handset while it’s in position. The easiest way to do that is with a vix bit, or a self-centering drill bit.

A common mistake when installing door closers: We’re at the bottom of the piston travel; if I install that up against the door right now, it might not close all the way. Instead, I put a little tension on it and bring the stop out by 1/4 inch, just past the groove, so the door will always be in tension with the closer.

Close the door and get the closer parallel with the door jamb. Mark a pencil line in the long slot and put that screw in first. If the door shuts correctly, then do the final screw.

The speed adjustment screw at the end of the closer allows you to adjust how fast the door closes. If the door is closing too quickly, tighten up the screw a little bit. If you need more speed, just loosen up the screw.

Finally, install both sweeps to complete the hardware installation on the screen doors.

Before “delivering” the door to the customer, take off all of the plastic wrap and wipe down the glass and the brass.

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