We love us some screen doors at the Farmhouse. During our long Southern California summer (which goes from about February to November….just kidding….it starts in March), there is just nothing like having all the doors and windows thrown open and letting that breeze run amok with all the paper in the house. But we definitely have our bug moments. We have just come through June Bug season, and I’m not sure when it starts, but Pterodactil season is starting pretty soon, too (known to everyone else as flying Daddy Long-Legs). So, yeah, we like screen doors. The problem is, screen doors don’t seem to like us.
The first incarnation came in the form of a ‘disappearing’ screen door. I thought this was a pretty ‘neat’ concept because we had gone to all that trouble putting in our pretty french doors, and I wasn’t too keen on covering them up.
As you may be able to discern from the photo, this screen door was a failure because it does not close all the way. Turns out that dog hair and yard debris do not for a properly-working sliding door make. I firmly believe that shotty installation by inexperienced screen door installers may also need to be factored in. In addition, due to its ‘invisible’ properties, several dogs, who shall remain nameless, went straight through it on several occasions before getting the picture. Needless to say, we quickly figured out that this was not a screen door that would be repeated on the rest of our six exterior doors.
At that point, I had the big idea that, because this is a ‘farmhouse’, it should have honest-to-goodness, old fashioned, slamming-shut, hinge-squealing screen doors. Right? Right. None of this new-fangled, I-have-a-screen-door-but-you-can’t-see-it silliness. Instead of trying to pretend like it wasn’t there, I wanted to embrace the screen door….
Because the trim and french door were all white, and because I was daunted by the idea of painting an unfinished wooden screen door (even though that is what I wanted), we went, against my better judgement, with the low-maintenance vinyl variety. For the record, I hate replacing things that should be made of wood with things that are made of vinyl. In theory, it sounds great: low maintenance, easy to clean, durable. But in reality, it’s plastic. It looks like plastic, it acts like plastic, it’s just so….plastic. We put this door up, and immediately realized that this sucker was going to sag, and with each successive heatwave, I swear the thing is melting. It never hung right (again, this is most likely largely due to installer error), and despite the very visible vertical barriers on the lower half, one of the dogs (who shall remain nameless) pretty much immediately put a paw through the screen.
And so, for a couple of summers, this is how it’s been: two of six exterior doors, partially screened. Really effective first line of defense against the Pterodactils. We sat in limbo this long because, although we knew we wanted authentic wooden screen doors, we were daunted at the thought of painting them. You see, to paint a screen door, one must first remove said screen, and then be able to magically put it back in. This. Is. Not. Simple. At least, it is not simple for the screen-door-challenged amongst us. We have had such terrible luck up until now, that we had sort of resigned ourselves to failure in this particular home-improvement arena.
UNTIL NOW….still riding the wave of our newly-refreshed DIY philosophy (‘good enough’ is no longer good enough!), we decided to tackle the dreaded, elusive wooden screen door. If we couldn’t make this work, on our third try, then it was time to call in professionals….either way, we would have functioning, hopefully attractive screen doors.
We got a very simple, inexpensive wooden screen door from Lowe’s (only about $20!!!), a set of screen door hinges, latch, and pulls. Additionally, because I can never leave well-enough alone, we got four little decorative star trim thingies to embellish the corners of the door (hopefully giving it a little more of a custom look). I had already chosen the paint color (it might help to point out here that I had long ago decided to paint our white french doors and windows a very dark olivey-brown color….so these screen doors would be painted the same), so it was time to get some painting done. Fortunately for us, Jonathon had a momentary strike of brilliance and decided that, instead of completely removing the screen, we should pull out only half of it at a time, and paint both sides of that half. When this had dried, we could tuck that part of the screen back into place, and then do the same to the lower half. This allowed us to successfully get the screen put neatly back into place. GENIUS! I knew I kept him around for a good reason.
After two coats of paint, lots of flipping and rotating, and re-attaching of screen, the door was finished. Almost. We then wood-glued the star trim pieces into each of the four corners of the door. After these had set and dried, it was go-time. It was time to hang the door, which is the moment when every screen door is either made, or ruined.
It worked. IT WORKED!! For some crazy reason, it worked like a gosh durn charm!
Wow. This was a really long post on a very boring subject. You get a gold star if you made it all the way through this.
Suffice it to say, we’re pretty proud of ourselves with this one. This is a long-overdue win. Now, we just have five more to do. Sigh.