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You’ve probably heard a lot about what a storm door can bring to your home – security, protection from the elements, curb appeal.
But what most people don’t realize is that storm doors aren’t for everyone.
In fact, they can be an unnecessary expense that makes little difference to the safety, value, or energy efficiency of your home.
In this article, we’ll explain what storm doors are and look at their cost, maintenance, energy impact, and hazards to find out whether your home needs one or not.
As a bonus, we’ll give you some tips on how to improve your existing front door if don’t have the space or budget for a storm door.
Are you ready? Let’s get started!
What is a Storm Door?
Despite its name, storm doors aren’t just designed for stormy conditions (although they may have started that way!). These days, a storm door refers to a sturdy external door that protects your front or back door from extreme weather conditions like heat, cold, wind or rain.
Often made from wood, steel, aluminum, fiberglass or PVC, storm doors feature glass panels that allow full, partial or minimal light, depending on your needs and preferences. The glass panels are often made from reinforced glass or low-e glass, which are shatter-proof and provide insulation for your home.
Some storm doors come with removable or retractable screens. These are known as combination doors. They give you the option of cross ventilation in summer and protection from the cold in winter. Retractable screens can be slid up or down, while removable screens require you to pop out the glass panels and replace them with the flyscreen.
Storm doors are available in a range of colors, sizes and designs. They can also be customized to your needs with locks, handles, closers, and pet doors.
Do I Need a Storm Door?
There’s no doubt that storm doors have their advantages.
Many homeowners sing their praises, from their sturdy construction and weather resilience to their customizable screens and handy pet flaps. But let’s look at some reasons why they might not be right for your home.
Depending on the size and material, a storm door can cost you between $150 and $450.
On top of that, you have delivery and installation costs, which can be as high as $800 – or more if you’re buying a double door. This means that a storm door could put you back $500–$1000.
That’s a hefty figure if you’re on a tight budget.
You could save a lot of money by installing the door yourself, but you’ll need to have some DIY skills.
Keep in mind that storm doors don’t come in standard sizes, so installation can be tricky.
If you make a mistake or you don’t have enough space to attach an additional door, you could damage the frame and incur repair costs, blowing out your budget even further.
Storm doors can have multiple window panels that are exposed to the elements and attract dust, dirt, and grime. Unless you want to look out of a smeared window, the panels will need to be cleaned regularly.
If your door has a retractable or removable screen, this will need to be washed separately to remove dust and allergens that could enter your home and aggravate your children’s allergies or asthma.
The other maintenance issue is wear and tear. While steel, aluminum and PVC doors are corrosion-resistant and suited to external conditions, a wooden storm door isn’t. If you bought a wooden model for its timeless appeal, it’ll need frequent painting or coating, or repairs if it’s been damaged. What’s more, it may warp or swell after exposure to rain or snow, which means you’ll have to sand down the sides to help it fit (and possibly create gaps when the door shrinks again) or replace it with another door.
The biggest hassle with a storm door is that you’ve got another set of keys and another door to open and close.
If you’ve got kids or shopping bags? Enjoy being slowed down while you’re just trying to get into your own home.
Also, a traditional storm door won’t give you cross-ventilation or a breeze. To remedy this, you’ll need to open the door completely, which may let in flies, dust, leaves, and even prying neighbors.
If ventilation is a priority, you could get a combination door where you remove the glass panels and replace them with a screen and vice versa. However, you’ll need a safe place to store the panels while they’re not in use. Glass panels can pose a hazard if you’ve got children in the home, so choose carefully!
Storm Doors Trap Heat
High-quality storm doors have double-glazed or low e-glass, which keeps the heat or cold out of your home. However, if you buy a cheaper storm door, the glass may not be reinforced or treated, which means that heat trapped by the external glass may warp or bow your internal door.
This could place undue stress on your hinges and door frame, particularly if you have to force the door open or closed.
Most people buy a storm door because they want more protection from extreme weather conditions. But what if your home is new and your front door is strong, well-sealed, and weather-resistant?
If you haven’t noticed any energy loss or moisture seepage, then your door is doing its job and you may not need a buffer.
The other occasion when a storm door is unnecessary is when your front door is under a porch, awning or generous overhang. You’re already protected from wind, rain, and snow, so a storm door won’t provide any additional protection.
The same applies to homes in warm or mild climates. You won’t be experiencing extreme temperature fluctuations, which means that a standard front door is more than sufficient for your needs.
When Should You Buy a Storm Door?
While most homes are perfectly safe and protected without a storm door, there are instances where they offer clear benefits.
1. Your front door isn’t weather-proof
If your front door is exposed to rain and snow and you want to minimise seepage into your home, storm doors might offer a protective barrier. An aluminium or steel storm door will insulate you against tougher elements – and protect your front door from further damage.
2. You want to increase the value of your home
If you plan to sell your home further down the track, a storm door could improve your home’s curb appeal and increase its value. Bevelled glass panels and other character features not only add security but also enhance the period charm of your home, making it more attractive to buyers.
3. You need more security
You can add more locks or chains to your door, but if you want a fool-proof way to protect your family and possessions, there’s nothing like a storm door to deter intruders or thieves. Storm doors are stronger than screen doors or front doors, making them difficult to break into. What’s more, the reinforced glass panels allow visibility while still ensuring your safety.
4. You want to reduce your energy bills
Due to their tight seals and foam insulation, storm doors can block drafts and prevent heat loss in your home. This can help stabilize ambient temperature and minimize the need for air conditioners. Over the years, this can save you hundreds of dollars in running costs.
How Can I Improve My Existing Front Door?
If your front door isn’t completely weather-proof and you don’t want to get a storm door, you do have some options.
Here are five ways you can make your front door weather-proof:
- Add a fresh coat of waterproof paint to improve the door’s resistance to moisture or extreme conditions.
- Add or replace weather strips to keep out drafts or rain.
- Attach a door sweep to prevent rain or melting snow from leaking in.
- Tighten hinges so your door hangs correctly and doesn’t expose gaps.
- Consider installing an adjustable awning to provide shelter and stop the elements from battering your door.
If you’ve got a sturdy front door, a generous porch, or you’re lucky to live in a mild climate, storm doors won’t provide any tangible benefits to your home. But if your door is old and exposed, you want to protect your family from intruders, or you want to save on energy bills, storm doors could be the answer you’re looking for.
However, if you don’t have the budget or space for a storm door, there are several ways you can improve the performance of your front door, such as repainting, adding/replacing weatherproofing, or installing an awning over the entrance. These might not be permanent solutions, but they’ll keep your home dry and comfortable while you save up for a new front door – or storm door!
We hope you find this article helpful. If this helped you, please consider checking out our related guides below.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!