Screened-in porch — hinges and screens

People tell me they like my blog because I show when I make mistakes. This is going to be one of those posts, because today was one of those days when everything I tried to do went wrong.

The screen door on the screened-in porch is supposed to be glued in place, but I thought, why not hinge it? (Because hinges always go wrong, that’s why…) You might have noticed in my last post that the door is quite a bit narrower than the frame.

The kit came with two pieces of 1/16″ thick wood that are supposed to be glued to either side of the door, to make it wide enough to fit in the hole. I decided to hinge the door to one of these pieces, with the plan of gluing the pieces to the frame rather than to the door. I used these teeny tiny hinges left over from making the Rowhouse’s attic stairs.

Hinges are always tough to do, but I managed to get these in without too much trouble. But when I looked at it in place, I didn’t like the look of the hinges. They look fake.

It also seemed weird for the screen door to swing out over the stairs.

Then I noticed I’d accidentally put the hinges on the *back* of the door. The front of the door has more detail.

Problem solved!

I added one more hinge for good measure.

Then I glued the screen material to the back of the door. The porch comes with trim to cover up the edges of the screening, but the door doesn’t. Having it swing in will make this messy back less visible.

Here’s how it looks from the front.

Next I did the porch screens. This was so frustrating. The material is stretchy and I had a hard time cutting it in a straight line. I didn’t want to waste it trying to cut pieces that were an exact fit, so I left extra around the edges planning to cut them back after the screen was glued in.

The instructions said to use a dot of glue at each corner, but that just didn’t work.

I added the trim pieces so the glue on the back of the trim could help hold the screen in place. My theory was sound, but this was very finicky and I didn’t get the screens as tight as I wanted.

It worked, but not without a lot of frustration and dried glue all over the place. Luckily you can’t really see this side once the porch is assembled.

I used nail scissors to cut the screen as close to the edge as possible, but there are still little nubs sticking out. I tried using an Xacto knife but just ended up slicing into the wood.

I added wood filler to close up the gap where the screen material was sticking out.

Then I painted over it. My hope was that the paint would slick down the little nubs so they wouldn’t be noticeable.

Nope. Arrgghhh.

I ended up adding strip wood to the top of the porch, to hide the nubs.

Back to the door. When I tried to make a hole for the doorknob to stick through, the wood split.

Sigh. I glued it back together, filled the crack with wood filler, and painted over it.

I didn’t want to risk splitting it again, so I had to use a doorknob that could be glued on rather than poking through. This is not the right kind of doorknob for a screen door, but it’s what I had.

Next I glued the hinged part of the door into the frame.

And somehow as I was doing this, all the nails from the bottom two hinges popped out. Arrrggghhhh!

I wanted to glue the nails back in but I couldn’t find them, and I didn’t have any more. I tried substituting brads, but the brads were slightly longer than the depth of the door. I ended up super gluing the hinges to the wood. Luckily the hinges are on the back of the door, so I can get away with not using nails. Now I just have to hope that super glue holds…

The door plus the two pieces of trim was a snug fit to begin with. The hinges added a small gap between the door and the right-side trim, so now the left-side trim *barely* fit. I sanded it a bit, but it was still very tight.

After going to the trouble of hinging the door, I wanted it to actually swing open, so I swapped in a thinner piece of trim.

This means the trim around the door isn’t quite symmetrical, but it’s only a 1/32″ difference. I need to do another coat of paint on the new piece of trim, but once that’s done I hope it’ll all blend in.

I’m not sure if you can tell from the pictures, but the screen is very loose. I wish I’d pulled it tighter when I was gluing it in, but it was so hard to work with. It’ll stay put, but it looks sloppy to me.

Oh, and here’s another mistake: the screen material on the left windows and over the door is facing a different direction from the screen material on the right windows, so the diamonds are vertical on the left and horizontal on the right. I noticed it too late to change it.

One thing that did go right is that I finished shingling, and you can’t even tell that the last rows of shingles are from a different batch.

So that’s a wrap on the hinges and screens. It looks okay. I’m sure I’m my own worst critic. It was just one of those days.


  1. Diane

    We’ve been repairing some life size screens on our house, and that is just as finicky. lol I think it came out great.

  2. Chris V

    It looks good. Yes we ourselves see every little thing magnified 50 times. I think the doorknob is fine, too.

  3. John Morganti

    Striving for perfection in a project! I wonder who you got that from?

    Screen doors on a porch usually open in so the hinge “mistake” made it correct. (Screen doors on a regular door opening have to open out for obvious reasons.)

    Next time you do hinges, especially ones that will be visible, check the spacing against a real world example. The top and bottom hinges here don’t look right –they are too close to the top and bottom of the door.

    There are tricks to installing life-sized screens that wouldn’t work in scale. (Bowing the frame so it stretches the fabric when it straightens out.) You could approximate that by gluing one edge of the screen and letting it dry before you stretch and glue the opposite edge.

    But at least you are having fun and providing entertainment and a good service to your readers.


    • Emily

      “Striving for perfection in a project! I wonder who you got that from?”

      Gee, I wonder… :)

  4. Sheila

    You’re braver than I am with the screening. I would have run away screaming the first time the glue didn’t hold.

    For your missing hinge nails. Have you tried cut down flat head pins? I ran into the same problem with my WQRC (so many hinges on the shutters) and found that if I cut the flat head pins down they worked fairly well as replacement nails.

    • Emily

      The nails need to be pointy to grab the wood, so I don’t think cut-down pins will work. (If they’re not pointy I think they’ll just slip out like the first ones did, which might have happened because the holes I made were a little too big.)

      BUT – I realized last night as I was falling asleep that it doesn’t matter if the brads are longer than the depth of the door, because the door isn’t where I need to use them! They’re not longer than the depth of the trim. So I might still try adding them, although at this point the dried super glue might get in the way of inserting them.

  5. Rhonda

    I certainly can’t see your mistakes on my computer screen–the little porch is adorable!! But I sense your frustration, and I appreciate this post. I have a screen door to do, and I’m so glad to know your steps and problems, so that hopefully I can avoid those issues myself. Not sure if that is possible, as I am fairly new at this! I have learned so much from your blog, and you have given me confidence! Thank you!

    I also love your dad chiming in! Nothing like a supportive parent!!

    • Emily

      My dad definitely taught me how to tinker!

  6. Sandra Stuckless

    Oh…I have felt that frustration…of days when nothing goes as smoothly as the plan in your head! But, it is so rewarding when you push on and see the ‘new’ plan finished. Thank-you for your willingness to share.

  7. Carrie

    Hinges are the Devil! …..Amen!
    P.S. Your porch is lovely ;)

  8. Sherrill

    Wow! I feel your pain. But nevertheless, she persisted. And in the end it looks really good.

  9. Jeanne

    (Humming softly, “Mama said there’ll be days like this, there’ll be days like this, my mama said …”)

    That is a very sweet screen door, though!

  10. Erika Hale

    The screens on our screen doors are never pulled tight, because they are old and well-used, so I think your screens look realistic. I looked for all the imperfections you pointed out and couldn’t see them. Your work is always beautiful and inspiring.

    • Emily

      Thank you!

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