August 9, 2011

To Have…or Not to Have…a Storm Door



     When my husband, Monte, constructed our home in Slippery Rock in the early 1980s there was no question about the installation of storm doors.

     It was only by reading the newspaper that I realized that installing storm doors is controversial. The sides?

  • I’ve never seen the logic in it (using storm doors). I never recommend it*…storm doors take away from the look of the main door. They cover up the design and the material of the main door…** rules prohibiting storm doors is meant to maintain a uniformity of appearance.***
  • The logic is irrefutable in terms of energy savings and practical use,****

     I never thought about the issue before. However, when we moved to our current home, I requested that Monte install a screen door (just the screen door, not a storm door that can switch to glass in inclement weather) on our front porch. He initially resisted, not because he opposed the idea, but because he felt it was unnecessary because our porch is surrounded, on three sides, by windows that open.

     That may be true,” said I, who spends hours working at my desk on the porch with the windows open. “However, I feel closed in. With the door closed I feel like I’m not in a welcoming environment.”

     The addition of a screen door would allow me to have an open door without allowing young visitors and pets to escape my home, while preventing outside critters, which are welcome to the yard, from entering my human abode. This includes chipmunks, bugs, and bats. 

     Once the screen door was installed, I realized something else was gained—a connection with my childhood.

     “Don’t let the screen door slam!” I recall hearing my grandmother yell when I was a child. Now, the slamming of the screen door is a welcome sound. It brings back memories of my childhood when I lived with my grandparents.

     I liked the screen door so well that I requested one be put on our back door and laundry room door. We reaped the benefits of these two doors immediately: on warm, breezy, days the cross ventilation was…well, oh, so welcome. It adds to the woodsy environment in keeping the house sufficiently cool that we rarely need to make use of our air conditioner. Stephen agrees: ventilation can be a big step in creating the sort of through-house draft that can be used to keep a house cool without air conditioning. Horn concedes a little: If you don’t have enough ventilation from the windows, that (screen doors at the back entrance) is a good option. Therefore, are they not arguing that screen doors fit into the politically correct category of green living?

     As I read the article, Stephen presented the same arguments which I gave my husband when I requested the screen door. That is, except for the screen door slam and the barrier against critter entrance into the house.

     As for maintaining uniformity of appearance: personally, the cookie cutter look of a one-style door community seems as ridiculous to me as rules that disallow hanging freshly washed laundry outside (which takes advantage of nature’s dryer).

     Horn argues that the use of storm doors maintains a uniformity of appearance in a community. This suggests to me a cookie-cutter, Stepford-wives, approach. The wonderful thing about our Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania, community is its lack of conformity. My husband once said that all one needs to find someone’s home in this community is a description of the house—no two are alike.  But I concede that some people like uniformity…it’s just not my preference.

     As for the fact that storm doors cover up the look of the main door, well, that might be so. Screen doors could be decorative too. Has anyone thought about that aspect? Our front porch screen door has six-inch painted letters proclaiming our address. Decorative, and a help for emergency personnel who might need to locate our home one day (I hope not, but just in case).

     Monte said, when I shared this article with him, the fact is it (the screen door on our front porch) is nice. This year, he installed wooden screen doors for our laundry room and garage. The cross-breeze in our home is ever so delightful.

     Who could oppose storm/screen doors?


Storm doors weather severe winds of doubt, Greensburg Tribune-Review, July 10, 2011, pp. G1 

* Home builder Don Horn, a Pine-based (Pennsylvania) home builder who is known for his colonial designs.

**Steven Hildenbrand, who owns a company in Irwin.

*** Jennifer Silk, from the Adams Crossing development in Butler County, concerning a homeowner’s committee rule prohibiting storm doors

**** Bruce Stephen from Minnesota-based Anderson Corporation.



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