Multiple measurements ensure a correct screen door fit, whether you're buying a metal-framed or wood-framed door in a ready-made or do-it-yourself kit version. Standard screen doors generally come in heights of 80 or 81 inches and in 32-inch, 34-inch or 36-inch in widths. Some suppliers offer more sizes. Screen doors with wooden frames are a good choice for door frames that aren't true or that differ slightly from standard sizes; you can trim the frame to fit.
Extend the tape measure from the sill, at the bottom of the inside of the door frame, to the top inside of the exterior door trim. Measure the height again from the sill to the underside of the door frame about 6 inches from the opposite doorjamb in case the frame isn't true. Note the shortest result as the height measurement for the screen door.
Extend the measuring tape within the door frame from one side to the other about 6 inches from the top. Take the measurement between the door frame's exterior trim on one side to the other, where the screen door will hang. Note the measurement. Measure the width again across the center within the door frame and note the result. Measure again from side to side within the exterior trim about 6 inches from the bottom and note the result. Use the smallest number as the width measurement if the measurements vary. Alternatively, if you're going to buy a wood-framed screen door and are willing to trim the frame to fit, use the largest measurement.
Measure the height and width inside the door frame again to ensure accuracy. Double-check the figures you wrote. Subtract 1/4 inch from each measurement to allow 1/8-inch clearance between the screen door and the frame in each direction for the ideal size for the door. Compare your measurements with available door sizes. Ready-made standard-size screen doors allow for variations in the rough opening. For example, a 34-inch screen door from one of the major home improvement centers will fit if your width measurement is 33 7/8-inch to 34 3/8-inch.
For custom orders, follow the company's measuring instructions.
Some companies request measurements with the clearance subtracted, and others will subtract the clearance from the measurements you provide.
Some vendors suggest allowing up to a half-inch clearance in the height measurement.
When you face the frame the screen door will swing into, if your exterior door has its hinges on the right, you'll need a right-hand door; otherwise, you need a left-hand door. Some screen doors come with reversible hinges.
If the house is new to you, check storage areas for existing screen doors.
If you have pets or raccoons, consider screen doors that are reinforced at the bottom to reduce damage from animal claws.
Custom screen doors are made to measure. Make sure your measurements are accurate, and check the company's return policy before ordering.
- Home Depot: Choosing the Right Door Size is a Breeze
- Screendoors: Measuring for Your Screen Door
- University of Missouri Extension: Simple Home Repairs: Screened Doors and Windows
- This Old House: How to Build a Screen Door
- Western Maine Screen Doors: Measuring Tips
- Vintage Doors: How to Measure Your Door
Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.