New toys: retractable screen doors

After a YEAR of aggravation we finally got our French doors in to replace an aging patio door, but for this particular model they don’t make screen doors. Plus, we didn’t want the center post in the way and that’s the only kind we could find.

Enter retractable screen doors. The first one took four days to install, but only because I couldn’t get the four simple pieces of extruded aluminum to marry, and called a friend who came over and wiggled them zip zap, and done. The box says “takes 30 minutes to install”. Well, I have since bought 3 more, and they’re right - once you get past the first one they’re simple as pie. (I called this guy because he had them at his house, the first one took a couple hours, the second one 30 minutes.)

You put the top and bottom rail into the roller housing side and the receiving side - they just slide together, then carry the whole thing over to the door and screw it to the door frame with 4 (or 6 depending on brand) screws. Put down a sill plate with 3 more screws, done. I mean it’s so easy even a cave man could do it.

The patio door brand was Brisa, ordered thru HD. Once it was in I ordered 2 more for the sun room, then another (Andersen, this time) for the front door. There is essentially no difference between the two - the Andersen was $25 cheaper but only came with a 32” sill plate, so I have to buy a 36” for another $20+tax+shipping.

The sun room doors open out, so the screen mounts on the inside. It’s a bit weird but like most things after a couple days it becomes invisible.

Speaking of which, the Brisa comes with a couple of slightly darker stripes across the middle-top and middle-bottoms so you know it’s there. The Andersen is completely transparent - too transparent in my opinion, I’ve almost walked through it twice. The nice thing is that when the screen isn’t in use it’s not in the way, there’s no “2nd” door to open every time you go through it.

The plastic housings are cheapish, I cracked a little piece off each brand in the assembly process. My fault, probably, but they could stand to be a little sturdier; that said I have no expectation that these will last as long as a traditional screen door; the rolling up and rolling back just has to be more wearing than the old fashioned type. But I must say I do like them, and installing them was vastly easier than the old kinds.

About $225 for the Brisa, $200 for the Andersen (double for French doors, of course.) Each of them required a teensy bit of trim at the top; they come in standard heights but are totally adjustable for any width spacing between the stated spec. (Usually 32-36; adjustable beyond that with minor modifications.)

I have one more French door down in the workshop, and I will be ordering another for that one. I like!


All sounded great until I got to the price! I have 3 Andersen Double French & 1 Single French, plus our Entry… Sliding screens on the Double French doors are a PITA, useable, but…

The Single French & our entry have never had screens, I’ve looked at my neighbors invisible screens but never chased down the actual brand or costs… Be nice to do 'em all, actually… Maybe get a bulk rate!

I found the Brisa at Lowes, Andersen not so easy… I’m glad I installed the Andersen French doors, original home had 2 sliders, family room & Dining room, single pane, aluminum garbage, I opened up the family room wall, new header, added the 2 double French there and the Dinging room… Had to have my brother help lift them into place, but they are solid, steel frames, etc… But the slider screens have been a pain… Need to see how they handle the retractible as a replacement… Costs have gone way up, I think these were maybe $1500 or $1800 each… To have them installed, yikes! I also opened the Master BR to ad a single French there for fire safety and access to our RV and also my workshop… Handy but no screen…

Nice food for thought…