* Celestial mechanics fascinates me sometimes. Because of the way the earth spins around the sun like a gigantic gyroscope, and because of the shape of the orbit it follows, the earliest sunsets of the year in these parts (YPMV) occur at 4:16 p.m. from December 3rd through the 13th, while the latest sunrises (7:13 a.m.) occur from December 31st through January 8th. So solstice has neither the earliest sunset nor latest sunrise of the year. It's just that that's when the two moments are closest.
The good news is that I managed to hang the new storm door last weekend.
The last blizzard ripped the side storm door right off the house. This didn't actually upset me all that much**. The door was already somewhat deformed from previous wind slams, so it was always a bit of a chore to open and close. I'd long tossed around the idea of replacing it in my head, so now the opportunity presented itself. To the Depot, away!
** What did annoy me was the damage to the light fixture, which I'd replaced back in September. The front lamp is dented, and the arm supporting the rear lamp snapped, so that lamp just hangs there.
Boy they have a lot of different storm doors. I got the least expensive vinyl-clad door they had. The sample seemed sturdier than some of the more expensive doors there, and the online reviews were very good. It was only $87. They had an aluminum-clad version of the same door for $50 more, but it didn't seem any sturdier. I also picked up a matching door for the front entrance, too, which will get installed when it's a little warmer out.
The job is bigger than just hanging a new storm door. Not only did the wind take the door, it also took the moulding it was attached to with it, so that needed to be replaced, too. Just as well because even the sections that remained attached to the house were pretty well rotted. The specific type is called brick moulding, and it comes already primed. The door is 80" x 32", so I cut two 7' lengths and a 3' length, and threw them on the cart with the doors.
The first order of business when I got home was to paint the moulding the same color as the rest of the trim***. I still had half a can of the trim color left over from when the house was last painted (which was a while ago), and it was still good when I replaced the corner boards on one corner of the house a few years ago. Alas, the inside of the can around the lid had rusted mightily since then, and when, after much elbow grease was applied, I finally got the can open, the paint was full of rust chunks. (Otherwise it was fine, but I didn't want a textured finish.)
*** I wanted to do this first so that I wouldn't have to mask anything, plus it's probably too cold outside for the paint to cure properly.
The name of the color was "Evening Hush," but I had no idea where the painter had gotten it. So I googled the name, and it popped up as a color available at Home Depot. So off I went, a sample of the old moulding in my pocket, just in case. A good thing, too, because when I looked at the display of swatches, I couldn't find Evening Hush. Wasn't listed in the pamphlet, either. So I did it the old fashioned way, comparing my sample against the paint chips until I found one called Coastal Vista that matched. They sell 8 oz samples, so I got one of those, which turned out to be way more than enough for the job. It was a perfect match, too. I painted the pieces, and let them dry thoroughly.
Next I needed to cut the pieces to fit the opening. I almost made a grievous error here, compounding one I had made when I cut the pieces to length at the store. The door is 32" wide, so I was thinking that as long as the top piece of moulding was a little longer than that I'd be all set. I completely forgot that you have to add the width of the two side pieces of moulding, too. That brings the needed length to 36". Fortunately, I had cut it pretty close to that at the store. Even more fortunately, when I cut the first 45° angle at one end of the piece, I did it right at the very end of the piece, rather than cutting it off a little bit further in. It was only when I took the piece outside to measure the location of the second cut against the actual opening that I realized my mistake in thinking. By sheer luck, it fit perfectly. Whew.
I was hoping to use my finishing nail gun to put the thing up until I saw the 10d nails that had (almost) held the original moulding in place. Too big for the gun, but at least I had some on hand. I compromised. I used the 10d nails to attach the moulding to the house frame, while using 8d nails in the gun to attach the pieces to the door frame. I pre-drilled holes in the moulding for the big nails, to avoid splitting the wood. After that it should have been pretty easy.
One thing I have never been all that good with is a hammer. I used to watch with envy as my ex-FiL drove nails with a few well struck, precisely placed strokes. I tend to bend a lot of nails, not too mention missing them altogether. Part of the problem is that my trusty Craftsman 20 oz framing hammer, that I have owned these 35 years, has gotten to be just a bit too much hammer for me to handle in my dotage. Standard hammers are 16 oz, and while I own several, they are just not as effective at driving large nails into tough wood. That is if you actually hit the nail dead on. After swinging and missing and/or bending nails several times, I grabbed one of the smaller hammers. It took far more swings to drive each nail, but the lighter hammer is far more forgiving on the slightly off-center blows that bend nails. It took awhile, as the echoes alerted the entire neighborhood that some sort of construction was going on, but I eventually got the job done. The worst part was the left side of the door. I'm right handed, and since there is nothing to stand to the left of the door frame, I had to drive those nails backhanded, which took even longer. Very frustrating. After that, I grabbed the pneumatic nailer, and nailed the inner edges of the moulding to the door frame in about 30 seconds. Note to self: I need a bigger nail gun.
On to the door itself. Right away I ran into a problem. The newfangled doors I bought are called self-storing doors, because the screen and glass panes stay in their tracks all year round. You just move the glass pane down in its tracks to expose the screen and provide ventilation. Or so I thought. What I didn't notice whilst looking at the demo model at the Depot was that the glass pane doesn't slide down to provide ventilation, it slides up, like it would on a window. The top pane is fixed and is not removable, so that instead of being able to stand behind the door and enjoy the feel of a cool breeze in my face on a summer night, the only part of my body with access to the breeze would be my waist and its surrounds. Not what I had in mind at all. Back to the internet.
Turns out what I actually wanted is called a triple-track. One track has a full length screen, while to two glass panes ride in to other two tracks, They are also completely removable, allowing the full length of the screen to be used. Way more betterer.
The units I bought did not have a triple-track version, but the next one up in price did (which was also the aluminum clad door I mentioned above), so I returned the two doors I had, and bought just the one door for the side for $144. I'll buy a replacement door for the front in the spring.
The door turned out to be easy, if awkward, to install. The hinge can be installed on either edge, so I did that. I needed to drill some pilot holes in the door for the screws, but the way the thing is designed it's almost impossible to screw this up (heh!), and I didn't. Hanging the door was the awkward part, mostly because I had no one but me to hold the door in place while I marked the location of the first screw hole. Once I got past that, though, things went pretty well. I did have to fill and redrill a couple of holes because the door frame isn't perfectly square. Not by much, but in the worse of two possible directions. Once I adjusted for that the rest was easy. I used a foot-long strip of ¼" MDF to set the gap between the door and the latch-side trim strip which made it very easy to get that set properly. I had to drill some more holes for the door hardware, but the door came with a template that made it fairly easy to get them right****. After that it was just a matter of adjusting the door sweep and fitting a new retaining chain to the top of the door to (attempt to) keep it from smacking the light fixture if the wind grabs it. We'll see.
I still need to fit the door return. I'd removed the old one from the original door years ago because a wind gust had ripped it the end of it out of the door frame. Also, since the old door was out of kilter, the return wasn't strong enough to get it to latch properly anyway. The new door won't have the latter problem, so I may as well put it on.
**** Next time, though, I will drill the holes for the hardware before I hang the door. I think it'll just be easier to mark them with the door lying flat on saw horses, than hanging vertically and unlatched.
More pictures here.