Sturdy Wood Screen Door

11 Materials
5 Hours

My plan was to buy a wood screen door at a box store for $20 but when I looked at the quality, I knew it wouldn't last for a week with my kids! So I designed and built one with style that will last for years!

sturdy wood screen door
Prepare your door jam...replace trim, fill holes, sand, paint.... You don't want to install a nice door on a crappy looking frame. I had to tear off my old rotted trim, reinsulate the frame and add 2 layers of new trim. I filled holes in my existing door frame where my previous screen door was hung, sanded everything down, caulked seams with exterior paintable caulk and repainted.
sturdy wood screen door
Measure your door opening. Deduct 1/8" - 1/4" for hinges. The above plans are for a 35 1/2" screen door.
sturdy wood screen door
Cut all rails and stiles to length. Create 1 1/2" tenons on the rails and mortises on the stiles. For an easy way to create tenons, click here.
sturdy wood screen door
Rabbet the bottom inside of your top board and the top inside of your middle board (blade at 5/8 height and fence set at 5/8"). Use a chisel to line up the rabbets there the boards are joined. Cut a 3/4" wide dado 1" deep into the top of the bottom rail and the bottom of the middle rail. I did this by making several passes on the table saw or you can use a dado blade in your table saw. Use a jig saw to shape the grooved edges (as shown above). Dry fit the door together and mark the where you need to rabbet the the outside boards. The rabbeted edge should run through the top and bottom of the grooves as well as the top and bottom of the rabbeted edges of the top and middle rails. Measure middle panel and jot down the width and height.
sturdy wood screen door
Cut in your rabbets into the outside boards. I did mine by slowly and carefully lowing it onto the table saw blade. You cant cut it from end to end because the blade is round. Chisel or use an oscillating tool to square up the rabbets.
sturdy wood screen door
Cut 1 x 6 x 6's into 3 pieces each at panel height. Keep in mind that you need the panel to fit inside the grooves on the middle and bottom rails. Divide the bottom panel opening width by 6. Add a half inch for overlap. Rabbet 3/8" deep by 1/2" wide on front right edge and back left edge of 4 pieces and only 1 edge of the last 2. Stain and then glue together and clamp. Allow to dry. Trim edges to fit width.
Using exterior glue, apply glue to all tenons. Slide finished panel into the groove. DO NOT GLUE PANEL INTO PLACE!! Wood has to be able to expand and contract. Put door together and clamp tight. Allow to dry.
sturdy wood screen door
Set hinges on edge of door. Trace around them. Use a plunge router with a 1/4" upcut spiral bit to router out hinge space. The hinge should fit flush with the wood. Sand with 220 grit sandpaper. Wipe with lint free cloth dampened in mineral spirits. Apply stain of your choice. Allow to dry. Apply 2 coats of exterior grade polyurethane, sanding in between coats. Remember to stain and seal the 1/2" x 1/2" x 8 trim pieces as well.
Starting in the upper corner, staple your screen into the rabbeted edge stretching and pulling it toward the lower opposite corner as you go. Trim excess with a utility knife.
sturdy wood screen door
Cut and nail on trim pieces to cover your staples. Attach hinges to door and screw it into the frame. (Predrill first). Attach handle, latch, and spring. Enjoy!

Suggested materials:

  • (2) 5/4 x 4, 96", Board  (Lowes)
  • (1) 5/4 x4, 72", Board  (Lowes)
  • (1) 5/4 x 8, 36", Board  (Lowes)
See all materials
Lisa Laker Interior Design

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Xenia Ford
    on Oct 13, 2017

    Where can you possibly find a screen door for $20. I don't have kids!😀 I'm not sure what a "box store" is.?

    • Janice
      7 days ago

      Discount home supply,Habitat for humanity resale stuff cheap and in good condition. I bought one the screen was missing but I only paid. $$10.. 😊

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3 of 31 comments
  • Ros31667802
    on Nov 14, 2017

    I also add "hardware cloth" to my wooden screen door to make it pet proof. It's the stuff you would use to make pet cages out of. It keeps the pets and people from ripping the screen or pushing it out of the wood. I add it right over the screen and have to make new trim pieces to attach the "hardware cloth". I just screw it all together. The screen door is super tuff now.

    , This is Hardware Cloth It is just metal screen you use to make things like a rabbit cage It comes in different sizes I think this is 1 4 in It is in rolls and Usually bought by the foot Don t know the cost maybe 3 foot
  • Cherie
    on Jul 26, 2018

    Great looking, sturdy looking door! Love this project!

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