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DIY - Sliding Screen Doors

WARNING!!! All installation instructions and demonstrations are intended for professionals trained in this type of work. Mobile Screen and Glass strongly recommends the use of a licensed contractor to perform any of these projects. Ignorance of required safety equipment, as well as safety codes concerning these installations, could result in severe injuries to those persons performing these installations, as well as those operating the repaired product! 




Installing one of our new sliding screen doors is a relatively simple job, provided that you have ordered the door the correct size, and that your existing glass door is in good condition, with a flat threshold and no sagging of the header. 

Most sliding screen doors are designed for the bottom rollers to carry the weight load of the doors, while the top rollers are just there to keep the door from jumping off of the track. But, there are also hanging sliding screen doors out there which are designed for the weight of the door to be carried by the top rollers. First we’ll deal with the non-hanging screen doors (Regular sliding screen doors). 

Installing “Regular” Sliding Screen Doors
Most sliding screen doors fit into a square shaped channel on the top of the door, and ride on a quarter-inch tall rail on the bottom of the door. To correctly measure for you new door, put a measuring tape up into the box on the top of the door as far as it will go, and measure down to the top of the bottom rail. This will usually give you a height measurement of somewhere between 78” & 80”. Then subtract ¼” from that measurement. This will give you the height to have your new screen door made. For the width, the measurement is usually half the width of the overall door, plus ½”, usually resulting in a width of 30½”, 36½”, or 48½”. 

Once you have your new screen door made to the correct size, the first step of the installation is to pre-adjust the rollers on your screen door. First, determine whether your door is left-hand or right-hand, as viewed from the outside of the door. In other words, is the handle on the left, or the right? Once you have made that determination, you need to adjust the rollers that will be on the bottom of the door. The rollers are spring-loaded, so they are going to want to pop out of the door to the point of full-out adjustment, so you will have to use your thumb to push them back into the door to adjust them properly. They may push all the way back into the rail, or they may stop short, with a small portion of the roller sticking out of the door. The ideal beginning adjustment is for the bottom rollers to be sticking out of the door about 1/8” as you are pushing the roller in up against the adjustment. For the top rollers, the ideal beginning adjustment is for the rollers to be all the way inside the top rail as you push them in. To adjust the rollers further out of the door turn the adjustment screw on the edge of the door clockwise; in, counterclockwise. On the trailing edge of the door the bug flap will be in your way of getting to the adjustment screws. Simply pull it out to access the screw, and push it back in when you are done. 

Once you have adjusted the rollers to this position, put the top of the screen door into the square box on the top of the door, and swing the bottom of the door in towards the threshold. You will probably have to push the rollers in on the bottom to get it to swing all the way in to the track that it mounts on. Also, the bug flap on the edge of the door should be oriented in toward the glass door. Once you have the door swung in to the point where the bottom rollers are right next to the track that they sit on use a straight blade screwdriver to lift the rollers up on the track.

Now that the door is in it’s proper location, some additional adjustment is necessary. First, slide the screen door over to the handle side of the main frame of the door until it is just short of that main frame. The distance between that door jamb and the screen door should be consistent from top to bottom. If it’s closer on the top than the bottom, then turn the bottom- wheel adjustment screw on the roller closest to the jamb clockwise until the door squares to the jamb. If it’s closer on the bottom than it is on the top, then turn the adjustment screw on the roller toward the center of the door clockwise to square the door to the jamb. 

Once the screen door is square to the door jamb, adjust the two top rollers out (clockwise) until you begin to feel the adjustment tighten against the top of the door, then back it off about ¼ turn. Adjusting the top rollers in this fashion will keep the screen door from jumping off of the bottom track. The door should now roll smoothly, unless it is binding on the bug flap. Take a pair of common scissors and trim the bug flap to a point on the top where it is barely short of touching the top box that the door fits into, then push the bug flap back into its’ groove. Then trim the bug flap on the bottom of the door to a point where it is just short of the bottom track, and push it back in. The door should now roll smoothly. 

And, finally…… 

The Latch Strike
Everyone wants their screen door to latch, and that’s fine. Our screen doors have a lock built into them. Just remember that this lock should, in no way, be thought of as being any kind of security. This lock is only there to keep pets and toddlers from unlocking the screen door, and some of the more ingenious of those will still figure out how to unlock it. 

But, having said that, in order to make your screen door lock, you are probably going to have to install the new latch strike that came with your new door. Sometimes the latch strike from your old door will work, but usually not, so lets start by saying that you are going to need a drill with a 1/8” drill bit in it, a Phillips screwdriver and a sharp pencil. 

The latch strike mounts in the channel of the door jamb that the screen door closes into. First, move the slide on the screen door that operates the lock all the way into the up position, and put a small mark on the screen door on the inside of the door at a level even with the bottom of the latch in the edge of the screen door. That latch is about 3/8” wide by ½” tall and is unpainted aluminum in color. Now, slide the door to almost closed and transfer that mark from the screen door into the channel on the jamb that the screen door closes into. You will want to locate the top of the latch strike about 1/8” below that mark in the center of that channel. Trace the opening on the latch strike onto the jamb and drill two 1/8” holes into it. Make sure you drill the holes a little bit away from the ends of the opening to allow for adjustment of the strike. Mount the strike in place with the two screws provided with the strike. Test lock the door. Remember that the lock strike is malleable, and some bending of it may be necessary for the best possible operation of the lock. 

Hanging Screen Doors
Our hanging screen door are almost identical to our regular screen doors. The difference is that on hanging screen doors we add a hanger rail to the top of the door, and it is the rollers on that hanger rail that carry the weight of the door. The two most popular doors that use a hanging screen door are doors made by General Aluminum and Croft. General Aluminum doors usually have a screen door that is 79” tall plus the hanger rail. Croft doors usually have a screen door that is 78” tall plus the hanger rail. 

To install a hanging screen door, first loosen the screws that hold the top rollers tight onto the hanger rail and slide the rollers as far up as they will go in the adjustment slots in the hanger rail, then retighten the screws. Adjust the bottom rollers all the way into the doors. Once again, you will only be able to see this happening if you are pushing on the rollers as you adjust them. 

With the rollers on the hanging rail facing the door, tilt the bottom of the door out toward you to about a 45° angle and place the top rollers into the top of the groove that they slide in, then slowly lower the bottom of the down toward vertical until you hear the top rollers snap into the rail that they roll in. Now loosen the screws in the top rollers. This will allow you to swing the door the rest of the way in on the bottom. Using a straight blade screwdriver lift the bottom rollers up onto the bottom track. Now adjust the height of the top rollers so that the bottom of the door is about 1/8” above the threshold. Tighten the top roller screws. Slide the door over toward closed until the door is just short of touching the door jamb, and make sure that the screen door is square to the door jamb. If not, loosen and lift on the appropriate top roller to square the screen door to the jamb, then retighten the screw. Once all that is done the door should slide easily back and forth. Mount the latch strike according to the instructions above.


 

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