DIY Screen Door

Step-by-step instructions for a beautiful wood screen door that will stay on its hinges for many years to come.

| January/February 2018

Not every open door lets everything in. Not every closed door keeps everything out. Dutch doors are designed so the top half can open leaving the bottom shut, letting air and bugs in, but keeping animals out. Screen doors are designed to let air in, but no bugs, and only when they’re shut. Got it?

Screen doors are traditionally thin and lightweight. In part this is because they don’t need to be thicker. Screening weighs next to nothing, so the door is only holding up its own frame. They also need to be thin to fit the outside of a jamb already occupied by a full-size door. The trouble with thin, though, is obvious — thin means flimsy, and making a durable screen door is something of a trick.

I use pegged mortise-and-tenons and stock at least 7⁄8-inch, but preferably 1 inch thick to make a durable screen door that looks nice and holds up over time. You can make thinner doors, but you’ll need to come up with a different way to integrate the screen, perhaps losing the stop that covers the spline.

I made this screen door out of western red cedar, a lightweight yet rot- and weather-resistant softwood. It is sold in my area as dimensional building lumber in housing construction-oriented lumberyards, and not in hardwood lumberyards.

Materials & cut list

Finished Dimensions

80 inches by 36 inches by 1 inch

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