There are many different types of screen doors on the market today and choosing the right one to fit your needs is extremely important. First, you need to ask yourself what functions I need the screen door to perform. (Do I need to help keep the dog or cat inside the home?, Do I need to make sure that pets don’t scratch the mesh from the outside?, Do I need to keep my toddler from pushing on it and ruining the mesh or getting outside on their own?, do I need the door to help offer protection from someone at my front door?, Do I need the door to help weatherize the opening?). These are all great questions that need answered.
If you have a patio sliding screen door, you only have two options for a screening solution. The first option is a traditional sliding screen door replacement frame, which is ½” thick and can be retrofitted to any door manufacturer’s frame. Unfortunately, there are no standard patio sliding screen door sizes that you can just go buy off the shelf. All of the window & door manufacturers have different specifications for the screen door that fit their doors. This will require someone to measure and custom make the screen door to that particular size. There are standard steel screen door frames or heavy duty extruded aluminum screen door frames. The standard mesh is a fiberglass bug screen. Many people with pets will consider an upgrade to a tough (pet) screen that is 7 times stronger than your traditional fiberglass mesh. One thing to consider is that it is a thicker mesh so it will decrease the visibility looking through it but it holds up to pets very well.
The second option for the patio sliding screen doors would be a retractable screen door. The Wizard retractable screen doors are installed at the center post of the sliding glass door. The housing of the screen mesh is 2” X 2” and the pull bar is another 1 ¾” wide. The retractable door pulls across the opening and magnetically latches to the other side. The retractable screen is an excellent option if you are not worried about pets getting out or toddlers pushing on the screen. A really neat feature about the retractable screens are that the mesh is not attached to anything at the top or bottom (it just lays in the tracks), so they become somewhat tear resistant when someone walks through into it. This great feature could also be a negative feature for pets and toddlers escaping. The housing has extra mesh rolled into it so it will push out an extra 12” and not ruin the mesh. The retractable screens are very easy to use and come with a lifetime warranty on all parts and components except for the mesh itself. The labor is only covered for one year. The one thing I like most about the retractable screen doors are that you are not constantly looking through mesh when not in use. They are retracted into the housing and it protects the screen mesh when not in use.
If you have a hinged swinging door that you are looking to have screened, there are several options available. You can also put a Wizard retractable screen door on these hinged doors as an excellent option (as mentioned above). Another option for hinged doors is a hinged storm/screen door. Storm doors have glass and screen options. If you choose to just have screen and no glass, then you can remove the glass out of the door and just store it. I would not recommend buying just a hinged screen door over a storm door because the frame quality of the Anderson or Pella storm doors are much more superior than the traditional screen door only. You will get twice the life out of a storm door framed door for only $100-$150 more. Hinged storm/screen doors are great for helping provide another layer of weatherization protection to your exterior door. If you are experiencing drafts or your exterior door is getting beat up by the rain or sun, a storm door can be a good option. Storm Doors will keep most of the rain off of doors but be careful thinking that they will completely help with a leaking exterior door. They may help with the problem but storm doors should not act as a solution to a leaking exterior door. Storm doors are always great for keeping out people or keeping in pets and toddlers. Most storm doors come with a keyed deadbolt for a comfort of protection and security. If you are strictly looking for security, you would want to look at a hinged security doors that offer a multi-locking system and anti-tampering frame, with one-way screws that are not easily removed.
In all, if you are just looking for cross-ventilation I would look at the retractable screen doors. If you have other specific needs, then the storm/screen doors may be a better fit.