The awesomeness of bringing screen doors indoors

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Andrea Parrish

bringing screen doors indoors

I have a difficult relationship with doors, and I'm not speaking metaphorically.

We've got pets (including one very old cat), heating vents that are only in the great room (living/dining/kitchen), and nieces and nephews that are at the age that they love to explore. Our house is also a berm-construction house, which means that the back rooms have really high humidity if the doors stay closed. These factors all combined means that we needed to keep doors open to keep our rooms warm, but it wasn't exactly safe to do at all times.

For cats especially, but for a lot of pets and kids, baby gates aren't exactly effective. After asking "gah, why can't there be something like a screen door, but for the inside?" there was a "baskets!" moment of realization: there's no big reason that screen doors wouldn't work. In fact, they're practically the perfect solution, with a few small considerations.

I've seen indoor screen doors used on kids' rooms to provide a level of privacy while parents can still keep an ear on what's going on in the room. They're also great to keep air moving around a home that has high humidity, for letting light into otherwise dark rooms, or even as closet doors to "open up" the look of a small bedroom or pantry.

There are screen doors for almost all sizes of doors that you'll find in a house available at most home-type stores. There's also home recycler stores in most cities that sell used building supplies.

There are three big things to look at when you're considering purchasing your screen door…

1. The hinges

Most indoor doors don't have the space or setup for the extra set of hinges. So take a very close look at the frame around your door and see what space you have for hinges. If you don't have much space, you may need to put smaller hinges on the screen door to make it all fit.

2. The doorknobs

Keep in mind that most doorknobs on your existing doors stick out into the space where your screen door will go. This leaves you two options: either plan on never having both the screen door and solid door closed at the same time, or get one of the screen doors that has a "slider" where the door handle will go.

3. The latches

Most indoor doors also do not have space for a true latch. If you do have space, you'll likely have to carve out some of the doorframe. If you don't have space in the doorframe, there are a few other solutions. Ours was to embed magnets in the wood of the screen door and glue washers to the door frame, which provides enough latch and resistance to dissuade cats.

You also have the option of making a screen door — in our house, we ended up gluing and screwing together four cupboard doors into one large "screen door". Really any door shaped and sized piece of material can have hinges added to become a surprisingly functional design element in your house.

Anyone else discovered the "so wrong it's right" mix-up of bringing the outside doors inside?

  1. Nothing precisely constructive to say, just a Me, too!!!!!! WE have destructive cats (several) Forced air heating with dubious circulation, and a desire to be able to see from one room to the next. Huzzah for screen doors! The magnets have worn out over time, so if you're not super appearance-focused, you can add a screw-eye latch to one side, then cut out enough screen to get your hand through. Yay screen doors!

  2. I like the look of this! My parents actually do use a baby gate to keep part of the house off limit to the cats- this works only because these two particular cats don't like to jump. But this is a much classier looking solution.

  3. Especially if you make your door, you could do a french style door, where two narrow panels open at the center. It would solve both the latch problem and the doorknob problem. ­čÖé

  4. Clever! Especially in regards to homes with humidity issues. I wouldn't have thought of this myself, so thanks for sharing!

  5. Drrrroooling over the thought of a dark "iron" type screen door with scroll work on it that one of my friends grandmother's used to have, but inside my house. Like a spooky castle/graveyard looking entrance to a room. yes.

  6. I've seen a lot of louvered "shutter doors" used for this purpose. Might be a good alternative if you have cats who may climb screens.

  7. I am curious of the least expensive way to do something similar…I have a small dog and a bathroom/people toilet trained cat – and we are needing to be long term house/dog sitters for a large dog that thinks cats are tasty and plays way to tuff for small dogs, especially old ladies. That added to a home that uses a pellet stove for heat has me wanting to remove the "normal" door, and then with the same hinges and knob (keeping door like new since it needs to go back on for sale when my year or 2 is done), I want to use expanded metal instead of screen for strength. I don't want it to look horrible, but I care more about cost being low and I found a $5 "hollow" door, but I don't know if its truly empty. If its a frame with an area for the knob, I am all for cutting a square on top and another on the bottom, strengthened with wood or metal pieces leaving the bottom between 4 and 6 squares – incase the "big" dog gets down the stairs and wants in – so does anyone know what is in a hollow door and if this idea seems like it would work and be easy to do?

    I would also like to remove another expensive fancy "outside" door with very fancy glass leading to the inside of the garage (wasted money in my eyes), but again I would like to keep it for when its sold and put in a cheap door, to cut in a dog door so she can actually let herself out, since the dog door is in the garage…but I am curious if the expensive dog door can be used in a different door later since the hole won't matter since I would be putting the overly fancy door back anyway? Thank you for any tips/ideas!

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