All you need is a radiator cover of your choice.
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cat entering door with radiator screen
Credit: Kate Sears

Screen doors are summer's unsung heroes: They keep bugs out, let fresh air in, and open our homes to the natural sunlight.

Here are some things to consider about the screens themselves: Aluminum screening, an American favorite, offers good visibility but mars readily—it can dent or crease easily—and deteriorates in marine areas. Vinyl-coated fiberglass screening is more opaque, so it blocks more sun and glare, and it doesn't oxidize or crease. For durability and beauty, consider bronze screening. It develops a patina as it ages, and it won't corrode in salt air. Stainless steel also holds up beautifully but is relatively costly. Heavy-duty pet-resistant screens (also good for homes with young children) and pet doors for screened porches make life easier. Other screens are specially made to cut glare from intense sun.

Mesh size is another variable—the screen often recommended for porches is 18 by 14, meaning that each inch has eighteen wires in one direction woven with fourteen wires in the other direction. Finer window screening (18 by 16), which often has thinner strands and smaller openings, can also be used but doesn't work as well on larger areas. Finer yet, "insect screening" has the tiniest openings, to keep out virtually all bugs. This choice can affect their durability.

To protect the bottom of yours from excited pets and pushy toes (which step in when hands are full), reinforce the screen with a repurposed radiator cover. They come in lots of finishes and patterns; the aluminum one we used for this project comes in a powder-coated finish for rust and corrosion resistance and perforated in a cloverleaf pattern. To fit the radiator screen to your screen door, cut a sheet using mixed-media shears, adding 1/2 inch on each side. Center it on the interior, and secure it at the corners with matching metal washers and screws. Foot in the door? Not a chance.

Shop Now: M-D Building Products Aluminum Cloverleaf Sheet, 36" by 36", in Brass, $33,; Everbilt #8 Brass Finishing Washers, $1.25 for 4,; Everbilt #8 Brass Phillips Flat-Head Wood Screws, 1", $1.25 for 2, The Rope Co. Sand Doormat, in Large, $79,

Martha Stewart Living, July/August 2020


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