How to build a wood DIY screen door from scratch
Adding ‘professional builder’ to my long list of to-dos was really never in my sights. For the past 10 years, I’ve gotten along with my somewhat primitive (rustic) building techniques teaming up reclaimed wood and screws. Easy! Done! Imperfectly perfect!
But then there comes a time when you want to make something that forces your hand in a slightly new direction. I wanted to build my own version of a wood DIY screen door, however needed to come up with a way to join the wood without mickey-mousing a thousand brackets together and such.
That’s when I decided to bite the bullet and buy a new tool toy to do this DIY project for my front porch right!
So here’s how I built a new screen door… from scratch.
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Meet Kreg! This is a Kreg Jig to be exact. And this guy is gonna help me build a wood screen door… from scratch!
So I bought it without knowing how to use it, vowing to figure it out once I got home. Nothing like a little confidence boost after a good dose of retail therapy…
What is a Kreg Jig?
A Kreg Jig is a specialty tool that creates pocket holes in wood, making it effortless to join wood at right angles, such as picture frames.
Video of Kreg Jig in action
Click above to watch a short video on how to use a Kreg Jig!
So now that you too are an ‘expert’ on this new building tool mastery, let’s build a rustic DIY wood screen door using it!
How to build a wood screen door from scratch
Supplies I used:
Standard lumber planks:
I used 1×2 / 1×3 / 1×4 / cedar strips.
You will be cutting to fit your door opening, however here are my measurements anyway:
Top: 1×3 – 36″ long
Bottom: 1×4 – 36″ long
Sides: 1×3 – 75″ long (x2)
Middle: 1×3 – 32″ long
Middle: 1×2 – 32″ long
1×3 – 29″ long
1×2 – 29″ long (x2)
Cedar strips – to fit around entire door frame (see below for more on this)
Building the wood screen door frame
1. Measure the open doorway where you desire your screen door to be, then cut lumber to create a simple frame that fits inside, with a little room to spare.
Be sure to leave room to clear a doormat.
Top: 1×3 – 36″ long
Bottom: 1×4 – 36″ long
Sides: 1×3 – 75″ long (x2)
2. Use the Kreg jig to join the 4 corners.
I added pocket holes to the tops and bottoms of the side boards.
Where should you make the pocket holes?
So how to decide what piece to add holes to vs. screw into?
If you do some deep reading on this tool, it’s suggested to run the screws into the sides of wood grain (vs. into it straight on) for a stronger hold.
Think of wood grain as loose straws. There’s more strength if drilling into the sides of them vs. straight onto them.
Good tip, huh?
HERE is the video on YouTube where I learned that valuable tip.
3. Dry-fit the corners, then screw them together using pocket screws.
Tip: I actually had the wood split on me on several occasions as I learned how to use the tool, so I suggest to practice on scrap pieces of wood before doing your project.
I also changed out to drywall screws which I personally found split the wood less.
Style the wood screen door
4. Start styling your door with additional wood pieces for support and design, then attach them with the jig.
I placed the basic frame against the outside of my exterior door so I could decide where I wanted to add details.
Note how I ensured the screen door didn’t interfere with the door window?
Attaching the screen door to the house
I couldn’t wait to pretty up my newly painted black-ish brown front door even more!
5. Prepare your door frame to mount the screen door hinges.
I ended up adding one strip of 1 x 2 to the left side of the door opening, and painted it out like the rest of the door frame. This appeared to work best over all other options tried.
Stain or paint the door
6. Stain or paint your screen door.
- appy with a brush
- two coats works best
- sand in between coats
Because I desired rustic wood accents on the outside of my own home and to bounce off that gorgeous black-brown door, I chose a custom stain mix made from Fusion Mineral Paint’s Stain and Finishing Oil.
I mixed mostly Cappuccino with a little bit of Golden Pine.
Two coats worked best, helped to deepen the tone and gave the wood a slightly satin finish. Beautiful!
High grit sandpaper was used in between staining to achieve the smoothest finish possible.
Note: this stain is not rated for outdoor use due to not having UV protection. Fusion SFO is the only stain I like to use due to it not smelling as toxic as most, so I took a chance because my door is well protected. If it fades, I’ll just restain it.
Attaching pet window screen
I started with standard window screen, but within two days, my cats climbed the screen door, creating pulls in the screen mesh! Before I even took pictures! Bah!
So that’s when I decided to bite the bullet and try pet window screen instead.
Standard screen (left) vs. Pet screen (right)
Window screen comparisons
Pet window screen is SO much stronger. It’s infused with some kind of nylon for added strength.
The price was dramatically higher too. The standard window screen cost $15 while the pet window screen was $60. Ouch.
But I was curious about trying it anyway as the cats climb up ALL my screens, so I’ll report back once I (we) have some experience with it.
Attach window screen with staples
7. Unroll the screen on the back of the screen door, and use push pins to hold the screen in place while gently pulling the screen taut.
8. Use an automatic staple gun to attach the screen to the door frame.
I stapled along one side, then the opposite, then finally the two ends. It worked wonderful!
Adding cedar trim to hide staples
9. Dry-fit and cut cedar wood strips as trim pieces to frame the edge of the screen, then stain or paint as desired.
Because this was my front door and I’d see the inside all the time, I decided to cover up the screen edges and staples with cedar wood strips. They were cut to size, then stained.
Adding corner supports
10. Attach the cedar strips by pre-drilling holes, then using short screws (I use THESE) to hold in place.
11. Add some painted cedar strips to some corners to help keep the door square. It looks cool too!
I cut 4 additional cedar strips, painted them in black-brown, then created a triangle template out of paper to help guild even placement.
Tip: I suggest to add the corner supports AFTER the door is hung. If the door sags a little, you can then hold it into the position desired, then attach the corner supports to keep it that way. It really helps!
12. Trim excess screen with a utility knife, or leave extra in case you desire to re-tighten the screen in the future.
I left extra just in case, as shown above.
13. Select 2 spring hinges, a door handle and a hook and eye lock. Or pick up a full screen door kit for added convenience.
If you can find adjusting spring hinges, I think they are a better choice so you can tighten them up as time goes on. I used standard non-adjusting on this door so I’ll report back how they do.
Visit how to install self adjusting hinges HERE on another screen door post I did.
14. Paint if desired.
I spray painted the door hinges and door pull in a gloss black to match the door’s aesthetic.
How to install the screen door
15. Attach screen door to the house.
- Position door frame inside opening.
- Place blocks of wood under the bottom of the door to lift the door into position, ensuring it clears carpets, etc.
- Attach hinges to house frame (6″ from top, 9″ from bottom) and onto the door.
- Remove blocks of wood.
- Check movement, ensuring the door clears the frame. Trim with a chisel if needed.
- If the door sags, hold the door into the desired position, then mount the corner brackets while pushing the door into the desired position, then attach. It helps!
- Add cabinet bumpers if desired so door closure sound becomes muffled.
And are you even ready for the full tour of my brand spankin’ new DIY rustic screen door from scratch?!
The finished wood screen door!
I mean… look at it! Aint’ it a beauty?!
Because I desired to add the black license plate, I added one more wood piece to help brace it in place.
Don’t you think the additional junk factor is cool?
I had planned to create a soda pop stencil to add a faux enamel advertising sign however my ideas weren’t working out, so I’ll save that idea for another project!
Doesn’t that rustic wood tone really pop against that blackish-brown door? I adore it! The door kinda disappears allowing the screen door to shine. No fist fighting here!
I just love the old charm coziness this wooden rustic screen door adds!
Teamed up with the Buffalo Checked front door mat HERE, it’s perfection.
Find the Buffalo Check stencil HERE
The little wicker bench faces the front yard and is the perfect little spot for a quick chat at the front door or to enjoy an evening coffee.
Oops! Forgot the pillows!
Learn how I made the Wild Flower Seeds pillow HERE
Find the Wild Flower Seeds stencil HERE
And here is how the wood screen door looks with the front door open.
Why, hello Sky! How nice of you to step into the picture. Perfect timing! Both cats adore the screen door and sit in front of it all. the. time.
I admit I’m super curious how that pet screen will take on cat climbing though… I will report back with my findings!
Another super awesome perk is the added airflow through the house. The cooler air sweeps right upstairs now, so it’s already been amazing, and we haven’t even hit the middle of summer yet. Great timing!
I’ve wanted a wood screen door on this house for over 10 years. But I didn’t like the price nor the looks of the ready made ones.
However making one was the best decision I’ve ever made. Not only did it allow me to do what I desired, plus it grew my building skills!
I just about feel like a real builder now! Ok, maybe after the 4 more I wish to make…
See what can happen when you learn something new?!
Think you’ll try to build a rustic screen door? How would you want yours to look like?
Other outdoor projects to make:
Visit many more outdoor projects HERE