How To Install A Storm Door Without The Frame

What if you just want to replace your storm door panel and keep the old frame? How do you do it? That's what we asked door experts and here's what they taught us.

To install a new storm door without a frame, you need to:

  1. Make sure that the new door is the exact same size as the old door.
  2. Create mortises on the new door for the hinges.
  3. Install the hinges on the side of the new door and old frame.
  4. Install the handleset.
  5. Check if it works properly.

Keep reading so we can teach you how it's done. We'll also tell you if you need a storm door over your front door and how to get the right measurement when buying one. We'll also discuss if new storm doors come with a frame and what direction your door should open.

A storm door made of bleached larch in the hands of a contractor. How To Install A Storm Door Without The Frame

Installing a Storm Door without a Frame

A door frame provides much-needed support for your door. It is where your storm door panel and hinges are attached. It is an essential part of your door, without which the door won't be able to function properly.

When your door frame is still in great condition but you need to replace the old panel, you can install a new door on your old frame by following these steps.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • screwdriver
  • clamps
  • circular saw
  • hole saw
  • plane
  • chisel
  • hammer
  • new hinges and screws
  • handleset
  • pencil for marking


  1. Remove the old door and its hinges.
  2. Place the old door and new door on top of each other. Use a clamp to secure them in place.
  3. Make sure the new door comes in the exact size as the old door by making the necessary adjustments. Mark the areas that you need to cut.
  4. Outline the hinge locations on your new door as well.
  5. Use a circular saw to cut the excess portion. You may use a plane is only minor adjustments need to be done.
  6. Check if the newly trimmed door will fit the opening perfectly.
  7. Use a chisel and hammer to create mortises for the hinges.
  8. Install the hinges on the new door and screw the other side on the frame.
  9. Set the door against the frame and put the hinge pins to secure them in place.
  10. Mark the location of your handleset and pre-drill the holes for the screw.
  11. Drill the holes and screw the handleset in place.
  12. Test if your new door will open and close properly.

It would need some carpentry skills but you'll be able to get the perfect look and fit for your storm door.

Does a storm door come with a frame?

Most door manufacturers offer storm doors that have been pre-hung on the frame to make them easier to install. They also come with an installation kit that includes all the hardware that you need to install your storm door properly.

The package usually comes with the hinges, handle, door closer, and screws. With the help of the right tools, these pre-hung storm doors can be installed in no time.

However, if you just need to replace the storm door and the old frame is still in good condition, you don't have to buy a pre-hung door. You can keep the old frame as long as there's no warping, wood rot, or deep dents so that it can still support your door.

You can buy your door panels in an antique market, estate sale, or you can also ask your trusted carpenter to customize one for you so that it'll fit in the old frame like a glove.

Door frame installation. the master installs the hinges on the frame

Can you add a storm door to any front door?

A storm door can protect your front door from harsh weather conditions. It also helps with improved ventilation, lighting, insulation, and energy efficiency in your home.

Although a storm door offers many advantages, it is not for everybody. There are instances when a storm door isn't even necessary. The main factors to consider are the climate where you live, the condition of your front door, and your door opening.


If you enjoy a good climate throughout the year, this means your front door isn't exposed to extreme weather conditions and other elements that can potentially damage its exterior side. So, you don't need the additional protection that the storm door provides.

Those with front doors that receive more than two hours of direct sunlight in a day aren't also advised to install storm doors. They will just trap the heat in the gap between the two doors and it can do more harm than good to your front door.

Front door

It could also be that your front door is already durable enough to withstand the effects of harsh weather. Modern doors have been designed to provide sufficient insulation to your home and are more energy-efficient.

Also, if there's a covered porch or overhang over your front door, then a storm door is not needed anymore. It will already be protected from various environmental factors.

Door opening

Make sure that there's enough space in your door opening for a storm door. It might be that your front door is already occupying the edge of the door jamb, leaving no more room for a second door.

These instances show us that you can't just put a storm door on any front door. At times, it won't be practical or your limited space won't allow its installation.

How do I know what size storm door I need?

It is important to note that storm doors come in different sizes. The most common widths are 32 inches and 36 inches but you will also find doors that are 30 inches and 34 inches wide. The usual height is between 80 and 81 inches.

In case these sizes won't fit into your door opening, don't worry because door manufacturers offer customization of storm doors so that you'll get a perfect fit.

The key here is in getting the right measurement. After all, the best storm door is one that'll fit your door opening perfectly. Any other size and it won't be any good. You can't install it properly, there will be gaps, and it'll compromise the security, aesthetics, and energy efficiency of your home.

You will need to get the height and width of the opening where your storm door will sit. Don't just measure your front door because your storm door is going to be installed over it.

Here's a guide to getting the precise measurements needed for your storm door:

  • For the height, measure vertically from the threshold all the way to the underside of the top of the door trim. Do this at the left and right sides and at the center of the opening.
  • For the width, measure horizontally from the left to the right of the interior of the door trim. Take your measurements from the top, center, and bottom.

Experts recommend that you take these measurements across three different spots in the door opening then get the smallest figure. Houses do settle over time which accounts for the differences in the measurements.

Take note of the measurements that you got and show them to your door dealer so that you can get a storm door that's exactly the right size for your opening.

Screwing a door hinge to a wooden door frame

What direction should a storm door open?

Storm doors can be opened from the right or left side. It is the homeowner's prerogative but of course, there are factors that need to be considered so that the door can operate more efficiently.

Inspect the location where you will install your storm door. Are there possible obstructions when you open it from the left or right side? This can be the front door's handle, mailbox, doorbell, railings, or other elements that may hinder the opening or closing of the door properly.

If you're just replacing an old storm door, you can have the hinges and the handle on the same side as the old door and it'll open the same way as before.

It is also good to note that a storm door that swings outward offers more security for your home. Intruders will not easily gain access into your home unlike when it swings inward.

Most models of storm doors can use the same Z bar or hinge side of the frame whether you want it to open from the right or left so it shouldn't be an issue.

Make sure that the handle is accessible to users on whichever side the door will open. It is normally placed on the same side as the handle on your front door.

Airtight fastening of the door frame with foam. How To Install A Storm Door Without The Frame

Final Thoughts

You can install a new storm door panel on your old frame but it would require some effort. But it'll surely be worth it with all the benefits that your new storm will provide your home.

For more door resources, you may read the following posts:

How To Adjust Patio Door Hinges

How To Remove A Strike Plate From A Door

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