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A Comprehensive Guide on How to Measure for a Screen Door

Getting the right measurements for your screen door is pivotal to ensuring its functionality and aesthetics. Whether you're replacing an existing one or starting from scratch, precise measurements are the linchpin to secure a seamless fit. That being said, many homeowners find this task intimidating or confusing. Fear not! Our guide will take you through the process of accurately measuring for a new or replacement screen door. Let's demystify this seemingly complex task and take your DIY prowess to the next level.


Measuring accurately for a screen door is a crucial step in the process of installation which helps save time, money, and frustration. It's truly integral to the entire screen door buying and fitting process. Accurate measurements mean that the screen door you purchase will fit perfectly into the available space, eliminating any gaps for pests and drafts to seep through.

The reason you measure for a screen door is threefold:

  1. First and foremost, it ensures a snug fit, which enhances the overall functionality and efficiency of the door. If a screen door is too large, it won't fit or close properly, rendering it useless. Conversely, if it's too small, it will leave gaps around the edges suitable for insects to crawl through, defeating the purpose of the door entirely.
  2. Knowing the precise measurement saves you from wasting time and money. An unfit door will require additional costs related to modifications, returns, or even if worst comes to worst, a new purchase.
  3. Having the correct measurement the first time lets you prepare your tools, materials, and plan of attack. Remember the old saying, "measure twice, cut once"?

How to measure a screen door

Tools Needed for Measuring

  • Measuring tape that has a good strong standout. Your door is at least seven feet tall, and in modern homes, it might be as much as ten feet. Having a floppy tape measure makes it very difficult to do.
  • Pencil and paper. This might seem obvious but you don't want to get started and then realize you have to do it all over again.
  • Level or square. It's important to make sure your opening is consistent. You have to measure for the shortest point. If there are large discrepancies in the width or height you will have to be ready to accommodate them with whatever unit you order.

How to Measure for Swinging Doors or a Storm Door

  1. Measure the width of the opening in 3 locations.
  2. The best fit for a swinging screen door is to allow an overlap on the sides and top of your frame to ensure a complete sealAllow for as much overlap as you can, but take the shortest measurement of the 3 and write that down. Now subtract 1/4" and use that as your overall width. If you are even an 1/8" taller than the shortest width, your screen will not close.
  3. Now, measure the height of the opening in 3 locations from the floor.
  4. Allow for the same overlap and like before, use the narrowest measurement and deduct an 1/8" of an inch. You can deduct less here because of the weather stripping that will be installed on the bottom of the swinging screen.
  5. Home Depot and Lowes will typically stock doors for openings 30" or 32" wide, but will usually offer at least one model you can customize
  6. Measure for Hinge Placement
  7. Once you've accurately determined your swinging door's dimension, it's time to figure out the correct placement for the hinges. This is a crucial step in ensuring a smooth and flawless operation of your screen door. Start by deciding where you want your screen door to be hinged - it will typically be on the same side as your current door hinge placement.
  8. For a standard screen door size measure the length from the top of your door frame to the ground and divide this number by three. This will give you the approximate positions for your top and bottom hinges.
  9. Measuring for Handle and Lock Placement
  10. When it comes to swinging doors, specifically measuring for handle and lock placement, accuracy is key for these components. Start by determining your desired handle height, typically located around 36 inches from the floor. This measurement can, however, be adjusted based on personal preference or accessibility needs.
  11. Next, consider the lock placement, often situated above the handle at a comfortable reaching distance. Measure this from the top of the door to ensure it aligns correctly with the doorjamb lock set. Make sure to follow the instructions when installing the lock, each manufacturer is different. Mark down which side of the screen door functions as the exterior for key hole and hardware placement.

How to Measure for a Screen Door that Retracts

Retractable Screen Doors are typically much more customizable, but also much harder to install. Most of the quality retractable screens will not be available as a DIY screen, so be sure to bear that in mind. The better quality featured brands typically include Phantom, Apollo Screen, and Mirage Screens. You may want to consider a professional in your community with good references. Having said that, if you want to try a Larson or other retractable screen door from Lowes or Home Depot here's how to measure.

  1. Start by taking a look at your threshold. Keep in mind that on a retractable screen, your have to have all 4 sides, top bottom, left and right in plane with one another. The thickness of your threshold will determine where that plane lands because you don't want to create a tripping hazard with the bottom rail
  2. Once you determine where you will be creating the mounting plane, measure the height in 3 places. Take the shortest measurement and deduct 1/8" for play. This is the height you will build your screen to.
  3. The dimensions of the width are less critical, but you still want to measure the top and bottom separately. You don't need 3 measurements like before, just the very top, and the very bottom. These are the location points of the rails the screen will glide upon.
  4. Now measure from the bottom up at least 36" for the hardware location, but keep in mind your existing door's handle. You want to make sure you are above or below that for your screen door handle. A replacement door handle is not fun to deal with.
  5. Lastly take note of likely magnet mounting locations. The dimensions of the magnet vary from brand to brand, so refer to the instructions included with your screen door.

Screen Door

How to Measure for a Patio Screen Door

Patio or sliding screen doors are different from the above options in that you will be mounting onto an existing frame and track with established dimensions. Don't be tempted or fooled into buying a replacement screen for a standard screen door size. It is likely that your doorway is not perfectly straight and your screen will not fit correctly if you do not get accurate, custom measurements.


  1. Measure the height from the top of the bottom track to the bottom of the top track in 5 places, including the static side of your sliding glass door
  2. Make sure you are measuring the exterior side of the glass frame
  3. Deduct 1/8" for the wheels
  4. Measure the width of the frame from the center of your door to the end of your frame

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the positioning and frame of the doorway affect the measurements for a screen door?

If the doorway is close to walls or other obstructions, it might limit the way the screen door can open. This could potentially necessitate changes to the initial measurements to accommodate the specific situation, or it might require a certain type of screen door (e.g., sliding vs. hinged).

Are there any specific techniques or strategies to ensure precise measurements for a screen door?

Remember always to measure the actual door frame, not any existing door. Be aware of any factors that may obstruct the door, such as existing door knobs, locks or weatherstripping, and adjust your measurements accordingly.

Does the type of screen mesh matter when measuring for a screen door?

Typically it does not as the mesh is inside the frame, not on its exterior

What are the standard sizes for screen doors?

You can usually find some stock sizes, like 84x36, but if you are measuring for a new screen, it would be better to get one customized for your opening.

Can I install a screen door on my own?

Absolutely, installing a screen door is a doable DIY project, especially if you are confident with basic carpentry skills. However, obtaining precise measurements of your door frame beforehand is crucial to succeeding in this task. Knowing how to measure for a screen door accurately ensures a proper fit, eliminating gaps that might lead to bugs entering your house or damage to the door due to improper installation.