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Installing the screen door of peace

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

Ever wonder how to bring peace to two feuding cats? Try a screen door!

If you've never installed a wooden screen door, while there are different techniques depending on your use, below are the steps we used to quickly install one inside the door jamb.

There are a few steps you must take from finding the right door size, picking up other necessary supplies for the job, how to actually hang it and ideas for making adjustments so that it fits just right.

Umm… Hello, Meatball here to tell you how my Dad and I installed a screen door.

Normally screen doors are used to put on exterior doors so you can keep bugs out and pets in while still enjoying some fresh air. However, Dad got a wild idea for installing one on his bedroom door!

You see, our two cat siblings, Tut and Refugee just aren’t getting along these days.

She and Tut used to be best buddies until one day her hip broke.

Refugee was born with a condition that left her with a week hip joints. When it broke, she blamed him for the pain and he got aggressive, not understanding why she was giving him attitude.

Since then, they’ve had a hard time being friends, so Refugee mainly stays in Mom and Dad’s room.

Dad is hoping that this screen door will allow them to be safely away separated when they aren’t home, yet still let them see and hear each other enough to hopefully get used to one another again.

Now- onto the DIY!

1. Start out by measuring the inside of your door jamb. Ours was 30”.

Keep in mind if you want to install inside the jamb itself, make sure your door is on the inside of where you want your screen door.

If it is not, you’ll need to hang the door outside of the jamb, so would want a wooden screen door that is 2” larger than the jamb.

2. Now when you go to the store, don’t forget to get hardware.

We picked up a pre-made screen door set that had 2 hinges, a spring for automatic closing and hook and eye for locking. It also came with all the needed screws and hooks. Easy peasy.

3. You’ll also need a screwdriver or drill with screw driver bit for this project- possibly a saw and sander or sandpaper.

4. Since we wanted it to fit in the jamb, we measured 8 inches from the top and bottom of the jamb and screwed the hinges in there.

Because our door jamb wasn’t perfectly square, fitting the door into the opening was a bit tight so we decided best to leave a little extra room and attach the hinges to the outside of our screen door.

If you’re not okay with this look, you could always rout out where the hinges will sit in the jamb, but we were okay with the visible hinges look- and this was easier.

5. Start by holding the screen door up in place so there is a little room at both the top and plenty of room at the bottom to swing freely.

We then held it up in place (not easy to do without thumbs!) and simply screwed a single screw into the center hole of the hinge on both, while pushing it up against the side of the jamb (with the hinges).

The door could open and close at this point, but was pretty tight.

So we looked at the jamb and noticed that there were several points where it was rubbing the jamb.

I grabbed a pencil for Dad and he marked the center point where it was rubbing and then made a second mark wherever it again had an appropriate gap (of at least 1/16th of an inch).

6.We then used a straight edge to draw a line from those outer marks to the one that was tightest, measuring in about 1/16th of an inch at that point.

I’m not allowed to use the saw, so Dad broke out the skill saw and trimmed along those lines.

7. We then took our sander and polished off any saw marks as well, as used it to give the edges all a slight, smooth bevel by just running it back and forth over them with a fine grit.

8. Then we screwed it back in using those same first pilot holes and checked the fitting again.

If it still is sticking, you’ll need to figure out where else to trim or look for any other problems that might be causing it.

9. Ours fit pretty nicely and was swinging freely, so we put the remaining 4 screws into the hinges and double checked all of our gaps along all sides of the door.

10. If all looks good, you can go on to adding the handle to the outside of the door- which is typically around 37” from the ground.

For our handle it was just two screws. I put it about the height where the bedroom door handle was and just centered it on wooden frame of the screen.

I thought about putting it down at my height, but Dad reminded me I’m not really supposed to go into their room (because I can't always be trusted not to pee on things).

11. Then, go to the inside of the door and decide where to install your spring for the auto closing feature. This will make the door always swing back to closed when you go in and out- otherwise you will have to push it closed every time.

We put it at the center point since our screen door had a crosspiece there and it seemed like at the top, it might warp the screen door too much over time (since it's just a simple constructed wood frame).

First, drill a small pilot hole into the door jamb about 1/2 inch inside of where your screen door frame sits when closed, at the same height as the cross beam.

Your pilot hole should be smaller than the hook's screw diameter to ensure it will catch enough to hold pressure.

12. Then screw a cup hook into that pilot hole.

If it gets to hard to turn, you can use pliers or find something long and thin that you can put thru the hole providing you with additional leverage to turn it. A thin screwdriver can work well.

13. Once all the way screwed in attach one end of the spring into the cup hook.

Now pull the other end of the spring out away from the attached end so it is horizontal to the ground and mark the end of it on the screen door frame.

Most likely you’ll want it a little tight to help hold the door close, but not so tight that your spring will wear out or that it’s hard to open the screen- so we measured about another 2 inches away from the mark we had made.

14. Then again, drill a small pilot hole at this new measurement.

Be careful not to go all the way thru your screen door frame. Just enough to get it going and to not split the wood.

15. Then go ahead and screw in that second cup hook and pull your spring tight and attach it to the hook.

Be sure to watch your paws, don’t end up getting pinched!

Test your new door! It should now swing freely open and snap back closed when you let go!

16. The last thing we did was drill a few more pilot holes and added a small hook and eye to latch the door when no one is home.

Heh… I warned Dad, he better not forget and lock mom in the bedroom if he leaves in the morning first or she'll be awfully mad at him!

I'm tired and need to catch up on 4th nap, so here's to hoping this door is the olive branch these crazy cats need to get over their silly issues (Little Mouse wrote about it in more detail)

Cats, I tell ya… crazy! Dogs are so much simpler.

Good luck with your door- be sure to send us pictures of your triumph!


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