As the weather starts heating up, it’s time to revive the ages-old dilemma of every summer afternoon: do we want to enjoy the warm, balmy evening, or do we want to keep bugs out? At the end of the day, it only takes one mosquito to turn your next few nights into a buzzing nightmare.
In many homes across America, the answer to this conflict has traditionally been sought with screen doors. These provide a way to let some air in and block some of your view while still keeping mosquitoes out. However, screen doors are usually flimsy, unfashionable additions. For anyone who is looking for a way to improve their back porch door, screen door alternatives tend to be among the first things to order.
But what is the role really played by screen doors? Are there nicer ways to get the same effect? And better yet, are there any quality improvements we can make? Keep reading to find out!
In This Article
What Are Screen Doors?
Screen doors are helped by their very explicit name: they are essentially a door with a screen. This screen is often made from a fine translucent mesh, with holes too small to let flies and mosquitoes in. The meshed area replaces that part that would usually be covered by a wood panel or by glazing.
Most screen doors are made from a thin aluminum frame that surrounds the mesh. The idea is to ensure screen doors remain thin and light, so they can be an addition to regular doors – after all, the mesh is unlikely to resist a good hunting knife, and they can’t keep any potential intruders out. They also break insulation, so they are often insufficient for anybody who lives in a region with cold winters.
Their cheap, light construction means that most screen doors are often considered unfashionable. However, premium alternatives can look very pretty, especially if they are blended with the surrounding décor.
What Types of Screen Door Alternatives Are Out There?
We have located four alternatives for screen doors. As these are all slightly different, the final choice will depend on your home and your needs. Some provide better ventilation, while others are better at keeping bugs or rain out.
Explore the different choices below! We have also included a few shopping options – both in the budget and the premium range.
1. Retractable Doors
Retractable doors are a sturdier alternative to screen doors. Instead of a fine, fixed mesh, retractable doors have a thicker mesh that can be rolled up on down depending on your needs. The aluminum frame that holds this mesh also tends to be sturdier.
Advantages of retractable doors:
- You can roll the mesh up and down as needed, and it will be completely invisible when rolled up
- When rolled down, the mesh will be better at insulating the inside of the home
- The mesh often creates a very tight seal, which can help soundproof the home and ensures bugs stay out
- Since they don’t have to be slammed shut as often, retractable doors tend to last longer
- They tend to come in a wider variety of sizes than screen doors.
Disadvantages of retractable doors:
- They’re more expensive than regular screen doors
- They are harder to install and may require you to hire a handyman
- They can potentially break if yanked out hard enough
- If the rolling mechanism is handled by a string, retractable doors could pose a hazard for pets or small children
Best options for retractable doors
MAGZO Hanging Screen Door, Mesh Gray
On the budget-friendly end of the spectrum, this retractable door provides you with a rolling fiberglass screen that can block bugs, wind, and bugs alike. This material is meant to be very durable and resilient: it will even endure having a cat using it for climbing. In addition, the mesh is semi-translucent, so you will still be able to see who is on the other side of the door. However, it will block some light, especially UV rays. This should help your home stay cool throughout the hot summer afternoons.
This hanging screen door is available in 9 different sizes, although we would’ve liked to see a wider diversity of colors.
Winsharp Custom Cut Aluminum Retractable Door
If you are looking for a premium-tier option for a retractable door, this creation by Winsharp will provide you with a beautiful alternative.
These doors come with a very sturdy aluminum frame. The internal mesh is made of reinforced fiberglass. It also has an automatic magnet-based closure system that provides a very tight closure without any manual rolling or hanging string. This makes them an outstanding choice for homes with small children.
Finally, this door is fully customizable: if your door is not of a standard or common size, just buy the immediately bigger size and choose the “custom sizing option.” Then, the manufacturer will adapt the door to your exact specifications!
2. Storm Doors
Storm doors are one of the most flexible alternatives to screen doors. Why? In short, because they combine many of the advantages of screen doors with those of glass doors.
Storm doors were designed to be a little bit sturdier, too, as they are meant to endure the battering caused by fast winds and harsh rains. They usually come with a thicker aluminum frame and a lock. Screen doors are made up of two roughly equal sections, each one with an independent sliding glass panel. You can open both of them for maximum ventilation, keep the top one open to greet any newcomers or receive a package – or just keep everything shut once the evening mosquitoes start showing up.
Advantages of storm doors:
- Unlike mesh fabrics, glass panels will preserve your full view of the garden or front yard.
- The sturdier locks and hinges provided by storm doors offer extra security.
- If you have an Air-conditioned foyer or a fully insulated home, storm doors will ensure your ideal temperature conditions stay put.
- They allow more natural light.
- Storm door frames come in a wider variety of materials (such as aluminum, wood, vinyl, or composite frames), which are easier to combine with a home’s overall décor.
- If you have very ornate wrought iron doors, storm doors can help you keep them free of dust and grime.
Disadvantages of storm doors:
- Significantly pricier than screen doors or retractable doors
- Once they are open, mosquitoes and flies will be able to come in.
- If you want to add some privacy, you will need to add blinds – or just shut the main door completely
- If you live in very hot, humid areas, heat can accumulate between the storm door’s glass panel and the actual door.
- They require you to deal with an additional door and lock when you are coming in, which can be troublesome if you are carrying grocery bags or a child.
Best options for storm doors
LARSON Storm door
This heavy-duty storm door is literally meant to resist a storm. The frame is made from 1-inch thick wood, and the glass section is reinforced with vinyl. This protects the glass from shattering and also makes it easier to clean. The door handle is reversible and locks with a push-button but also includes an additional safety lock on the inside.
It offers one main self-storing sliding glass panel that can move up or down according to your needs. The lack of a second, independent glass is compensated by some extra space at the bottom, where you would be able to install a pet gate if needed. It’s available in white, but the wood can be painted.
Dragon Vinyl Storm with Flapping Pet Door
The Dragon Storm door was designed to provide light-weight but resilient protection for your back door or garden door. This budget-friendly option features an aluminum friend and a sliding vinyl panel that looks very close to real glass. Below, it comes with a pre-installed flapping pet door that will allow your furry companion to come and go as he pleases.
The pet door is designed to be silent and easy to be pushed open. However, it comes with a set of magnets around its borders, which will preserve insulation and will help it snap shut back in place.
3. Magnetic Screens
Magnetic screens are essentially long, flapping tarpaulin pieces that use strategically placed magnets in order to stay closed whenever they are being used. This creates an additional barrier between the main door and your protective screen. Because of this, they are often paired up with glass doors and French doors.
Some magnetic screen models come with a rolling mechanism, similar to that of a rolling blind.
Advantages of magnetic screens:
- They provide instant, full privacy while still letting air come in
- They can be opened and crossed without using your hands
- They shut tight automatically, without the need for a handle
- They tend to be very budget-friendly, even for supersized doors
- The tarpaulin may come in a variety of different designs
- They can be easily operated by the home’s pets
- They are very light, easy to install, and portable
Disadvantages of magnetic screens:
- They block sunlight completely
- They may let your A/C or heating out, increasing your energy consumption
- They cannot be locked – you will have to close your main door
- Some of them can be easily yanked out, especially by cats
- Occasionally, the magnets may not automatically fall into place, and the door won’t close back properly
Best options for magnetic screens
Apalus 28-Magnet Magnetic Screen
The Apalus magnetic screen is made from a strong polyester mesh that is meant to provide near-complete privacy while keeping flies and mosquitos out of the house. This mesh is significantly more resistant than the one used by most screen doors, which will prevent any accidental holes or tears. It can let the air go through the mesh. However, the magnets will resist wind currents.
This model comes with an easy-install system that requires no screws or drilling. Instead, it uses double-sided screen tape to hang it from the top of the door frame.
MAGZO Magnetic Screen Door
The MAGZO Magnetic screen replaces the standard nylon with a thicker fiberglass mesh, which is meant to offer increased wind resistance. It also features a windproof sticker hasp, meant to consolidate both fabric panels together whenever you want to keep everything closed.
The materials are meant to be fireproof and resilient to chemical corrosion.
4. Fly Blinds
Fly blinds are usually an extremely cheap and portable alternative to screen doors. Because of this, they are commonly used in camping sites, RVs, and vacation homes.
Fly blinds are meant to be hanging, thin strips of fabric, meant to confuse any flies trying to come in. They will also block you from the neighbor’s view while letting the breeze flow inside freely.
Advantages of fly blinds:
- Fly blinds are very inexpensive and easy to install
- Many come in attractive colors that can add a splash of personality to your interior décor
- They don’t require you to manually open anything, as they can just be pushed aside
Disadvantages of fly blinds:
- They do not provide a tight seal
- Smart flies and standard mosquitoes will still be able to come in
- Not safe for children or pets
- Best options
Best options for fly blinds
Holland Plastics Original Brand Fly Blind
Thanks to its silvery, smooth strips, this fly blind could almost pass for a decorative door curtain. It is light and breezy, made of antibacterial plastic that will be very easy to keep clean. However, it remains discreet enough to blend in with any surrounding furniture without clashing.
The package includes everything needed for installation. It comes with a tubular pole that can be hooked into the wall. If you already have pre-drilled nails on top of your door, the pole can be instantly secured to them. Alternatively, you can also use double-sided indoor tape and hooks.
Tangpan 7 Color Fringe Fly Blind
If you are looking for a more interesting design choice, this 7-color fly blind can be a great addition to any home decorated in an ethnic or boho style. They will look like a little rainbow separating the inside of your home from the garden or front yard.
It is made from light polyester fringes, which are very easy to wash and sanitize: just wrap it around itself and throw them into the laundry machine. It will air-dry very quickly.
Screen door alternatives have fallen out of favor over the past few years. However, they are not the only way to keep your home fresh during the summer or to protect yourself from insidious insects. The alternatives listed here all have different pros and cons when compared to screen doors – it will be up to you to decide which feature is most important to you!