Storm doors (also called screen doors) are exterior doors typically used in combination with the primary door to the home. These serve two main purposes: provide an extra layer of protection against bad weather and improve the home’s energy efficiency.
Storm doors are usually made of sturdy materials like aluminum or steel and often have a screen to allow fresh air to enter the home while keeping out insects. In colder climates, they may also include a glass panel to help insulate the home.
When it comes to the possibility of painting the screen doors, yes, you can. But how easy the process will be, what preparation work you need, and what materials you will be using generally depend on the material it is made of.
For example, wooden storm doors can easily be painted, but painting an aluminum or steel one will not be much easier. Ideally, these metal storm doors come prefinished and should not be painted because the paint will not adhere properly, and you will need to do a lot of prep work beforehand. Also, some companies like Andersen® recommend avoiding painting their doors, as any kind of alteration can void the warranty.
But what if you still want to paint your aluminum-clad storm door? If you decide to go ahead, here are a few tips for you to follow.
How to Paint an Aluminum Storm Door?
First and foremost, it’s essential to confirm with the manufacturer whether the aluminum-clad storm door you have is paintable and if painting it will void the warranty.
Some storm doors have a factory-applied finish that can be replaced following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
If your storm door is not factory-finished or you somehow want to change the look, consider using a primer-and-paint-in-one product explicitly made for aluminum or metal surfaces such as steel. You can alternatively use a metal-bonding primer and then a high-quality exterior enamel paint that can be brushed or sprayed.
Steps for Painting the Storm Door and the Frame
Painting the storm door and its frame isn’t complex and just requires a few supplies, such as primer, paint, and a high-quality paintbrush.
Here are the steps you will need to follow…
Step 1- Remove the hardware
Start by removing all the hardware from the door, including the doorknob, deadbolt, and any other screws or fasteners. Depending on the age and type of frame, you may need to use a drill or screwdriver to remove some of this hardware.
Step 2- Clean the door and frame
Use a soft cloth and mild detergent to remove any dirt, dust, or grease that could prevent proper paint adhesion on the door and frame. If any areas require sanding, use sandpaper and clean the dust with a cloth again.
Also, check for rusty spots, dents, scratches, or holes. If you find them, clean the rusty spots by sanding them with 400-grit sandpaper and use a high-quality automotive body filler to fill the gouges and holes. Do not use any regular wood filler on metal doors since it will fall out when dry.
Step 3- Tape off the areas you don’t want to paint
Use painter’s tape to protect any areas of the door or frame you want to avoid painting on. For example, you may want to tape off the glass panel or the other side of the door if it is swung open.
Step 4- Apply the primer to the storm door and frame
Applying a good metal primer before painting the aluminum storm door is crucial as it will help the paint to adhere better. I would suggest using a self-etching primer, which is especially effective if the door is bare aluminum.
Spray the primer on the door and the frame evenly from an aerosol can and allow it to dry for 10-15 minutes. Once the primer is dry, you can start painting.
Step 5- Paint the storm door and replace all the hardware
To begin, apply a coat of paint with a brush or roller to the aluminum frame and allow it to dry before proceeding to paint the door itself.
For the door, you can use a brush or a sprayer. If you use a brush, start with the panels and then move on to the rails and stiles. Use even strokes, and try not to paint too thickly.
If you’re using a sprayer, hold it about 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) away from the surface of the door and apply a thin, even coat lightly.
Once the paint on the door and trim are completely dry, you can re-install the hardware on the door. Screw everything back into place using a drill or screwdriver, and ensure it’s tight and secure.
You’ve now successfully painted your old Larson or Andersen storm doors yourself. It’s an exciting feeling – isn’t it? Enjoy the new look and feel confident knowing that you did it yourself.
What Paint to Use for Wooden and Vinyl Screen Doors?
Wooden doors can be painted with latex or oil-based paints. Still, for a more durable finish on exterior storm doors made of wood, I would suggest using oil-based enamel, which provides better wear and protection, lasting years without peeling and bubbling.
Your storm doors must withstand extreme heat, cold, rain, wind, and pressure. So, do not forget to clean and prepare the wood nicely for the paint to adhere better and last longer.
If, however, you have old storm doors or screens made of vinyl, keep in mind that regular latex or oil-based paints won’t stick to them correctly. You should instead use a primer with a bonding agent first and then apply multiple coats of a special latex paint that also has a bonding agent.
Also, it’s important to note that painting your old storm door or a front door may not be worth it if it’s poorly made, doesn’t fit your doorway correctly, or is damaged – it could pose a safety risk. In these instances, you will need a new storm door.
The cost of installation and replacement varies depending on the door’s size, style, and material. However, as per homeadvisor.com, you can expect to pay somewhere between $100 and $1200.
The Bottom Line
With more advanced front doors made of wood and steel, some might say that storm doors are outdated, but they can still be a helpful addition to your home.
When installed correctly, a storm door can be a lifesaver if you live in an area that experiences severe weather conditions, such as hurricanes or tornadoes. Also, adding an extra layer of protection can help reduce energy costs and keep the home more comfortable year-round.
But painting them isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. Before you begin, check with the manufacturer if the painting voids the warranty. Then, with the proper preparation and paint products, you can give your storm door a fresh look that will last for years.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.