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Suggested wood choice for building a porch screen door ?

782 Views 19 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Knockonit
We have a screened porch that a previous owner had built. The structure and roof were done well but their choice for the screen door was a cheapo PVC thing with plastic spring hinges that can be found at the orange and blue big box stores. We want to replace this door with a screen door hung from barn door hardware so that we have more usable floor space inside the porch or outside on the deck. I can't find any place that stocks a door wide enough for this, so I'm going to build one. My problem at this point is figuring out which wood to use (that I can get).

It's going to be painted. I figured douglas fir would be a good choice, but I can't find anyone around that sells it (central Virginia). I need a wood that will hold up in hot sun, rain, humidity, and occaisional snow. Will clear pine hold up if primed and painted? Any other suggestions suited for outdoors that will sand and take paint easily?

Being hung as a barn door, I don't expect to worry about it sagging. I figure I will just use pocket hole joinery, plug the holes, sand, and paint. I'll also be installing a doggie door in a lower panel.
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How do you plan on a perimeter seal around a barn door setup? Obviously you'll want a screen door to keep out bugs and critters.
I'm not too concerned about keeping it hermetically sealed from bugs. The house as originally built had a deck on the back that ran the full width og the back of the house from the kitchen window past doors to the living area to the back of the master bedroom, where there are additional doors. Some time later, the porch with a shed roof was built on top of the deck behind the bedroom, with the cheapo screen door allowing passage from the screen porch to the deck. No changes were made to flooring in the porch - it's just the original decking and crawly bugs can come in that way. Flying bugs could get in a little easier with the barn door, and I figured I might use some kind of felt to close it up if I can get the door to hang close enough. But we don't have a problem here with mosquitos, which is welcome because both my wife and I are natives of New Orleans, and the mosquito is the state bird of Louisiana. The pestiest flying bugs here are brown marmorated stink bugs and asian lady beetles, both of which are non-native to the US. They find a way inside the main house. Everyone here gets them. If I can't keep them out of the house, I'll never keep them out of the porch.

Edit: Oh, the doggie door will also cause the door to swing out when the dog goes out...well if it's a medium to large dog.
The barn door hardware comes with a guide for the bottom of the door to keep it from swinging. This is needed even without the doggie door. We get some crazy winds sometimes. The hardware kits I've seen have different anti-swing options. The one I plan to use mounts on the floor and runs in a groove routed in the bottom of the door. This hides the guide.
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I'm just curious why the OP needs a screen door at all. They don't care about keeping the bugs and critters out and their dog obviously has free rein of the yard. Just leave the darn back door open lol
I think it's safe to say that there is virtually nothing that anyone has discussed on these forums that anyone needs. We need food and water. Everything else is, at most, wanted. And my wife wants screen doors on her porch. I want to please her because it pleases me to please her. As a retired software engineer, I will put it this way: She and I are in agreement in the functional requirements. It's up to me to figure out non-functional requirements such as reliability which is why I'm asking about the wood species. Don't be a lumberjerk.
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I built a couple of screen doors using 2x6 Cedar and used 1/2" dowel pins for the rails to the styles, The screening was the EZ Screen, which is an angle track that attaches to the edge and a spline is tapped in stretching the screen. Screen Door Frames
Thanks Eric for the EZ Screen tip. I hadn't yet decided on how I would screen it. That is a whole lot better than how the porch is currently screened. It has a system that might have been OK if the installer had done better work - perhaps with mitered joints. Then someone did a sloppy paint job on top of that. So EZ Screen is now a candidate for replacing all of the screen.
Rectangle Wood Grey Composite material Tints and shades
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well, since you have a "Franken" shop, you could build her a "Franken Door" and keep it out of sight until it's done. Then, install it as a "gag" - taking into consideration that she has a sense of humor. (or, it could turn out bad).

But, in all seriousness, my Dad made a screen door for our 1960 Homestead using Douglas Fir and it still stands today. The bottom had 1/2" hardware cloth on top of the screen as we had dogs that would push the door open. The hardware cloth is good insurance on any screen door. (OR- the ornamental aluminum sheet from the Box Store). As for the "sliding barn door style", I'm having a hard time envisioning that in my mind - never seen it before as a porch screen door that may be used a lot.
When you get it laid out on paper, could you share your sketch, drawing or sample photo with us ??
She has a sense of humor and I like to make her laugh, but time is what I have in shortest supply, so a joke would have to be made of cardboard. I once made a Homer Simpson spice rack for her.

Our porch as it was when we bought the house is a series of compromises that a previous owner/builder made. I'm trying to improve it for how we intend to use it. Short of tearing it all out and starting from scratch, my work will require new compromises. I've sketched the current floorplan. Outside of the living room, there is a motorized awning. When it is fully extended, it blocks the outswing screen door from opening. The previous owner didn't think that out. So we can extend the awning halfway, or we can prop open the screen door before fully extending the awning. She likes to extend the awning fully. So when the fall weather arrived and she's hanging out on the porch and wants the dogs to come and go between the porch and the yard, the screen door has been propped open and we get lots of oak leaves blown in and sometimes birds. An obvious solution would be to install an inswing screen door. But the screen porch is only 11x13 and an inswing door creates some limitations on how the interior of the porch is used. We'd rather give up a corner of the deck. I thought of the screen barn door and she liked it. I do have the room for a barn door to roll completely open and I have the available height for installing the barn door roller tracks.
Rectangle Font Parallel Diagram Slope

My concept for the door itself is pretty simple - two stiles, three rails, and two mullions around the dog door. I would buy the dog door before the build so that the opening would be sized to fit the dog door frame.
Rectangle Slope Font Parallel Diagram

I will take pictures as I start this project and post them. For now, I'm working on materials.
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FrankenShop, what I would do is buy a prebuilt wood screen door for your opening which I'm assuming is 32"or 36" wide.
The structure is 6x6 posts spaced equally from the house siding to the edge of the decking. The opening is 42" wide and also taller than any non-custom screen door available. The existing plastic screen door was installed after someone built a jamb with stacked layers of 1x3 onto the sides and top of the opening for the dooor to close against. It's really cheesy. I could take the 1x3s out and make a better jamb for a better quality prefab door, but because of the awning interference, I would only do that for an inswing. We considered that when we first moved in, but it was tabled for projects with priority - kitchen gut, master bath gut, replace carpets with wood flooring. In the meantime, she furnished the porch how she likes and doesn't want to give up the space for the inswing. She really likes the idea of the barn door, and I like the idea of a hands-on project that is more interesting. I don't want to do something that's the easiest. I want optimum function first, aesthetics second, and ease third. I'm no Norm Abram, but she's never been disappointed in my efforts.

I was able to track down a place about 60 miles away where I can get fir by asking contractors where they go other than the orange or blue stores. I've also found a dealer close by that sells Screeneze. Ordering the same brand dog door that I used in previous homes, and chosen the barn door hardware. So I've got a winter project to work on after I'm done with some landscaping work. I'm rethinking my joinery. I've used a doweling jig for smaller work, but I think I want to use floating tenons jig for this. I can't justify the cost of a FT domino. I'll post pictures of the progress and results for anyone who's interested.

Thanks to all for the tips!
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