Aug 16

The Custom Screen Door

custom screen door

A custom screed door

There is resurgence in remodeling with a mind toward keeping the quaint, charm of the old architecture intact. The beautiful homes of the 1920s – 1950s deserve to keep their noble exteriors. The wood siding can be replaced and the front pillars can be fortified. Inside the old oak floors can be sanded and polished. But when the front screen door finally falls apart, what to do?

The owners of these stylish mid-century homes have started hiring welders and iron-workers to create new, modern designs for the doors. The modern designs give the old house a unique character. Because the door is the first thing you see, an artistic, custom screen door adds an eclectic flair to what might otherwise be a standard mid-century house. It is the focal point of the home as viewed from the outside and it can be quite eye-catching.

In the southern United States, screen doors are very popular because they let the breeze blow through the house while keeping the mosquitoes outside. Places in the south often have long seasons where neither heat nor air conditioning is needed so screen doors are a necessity for air flow. The original screen doors mass produced in 1950’s were pretty boring. It is refreshing to see this old standard get a new redesign.

The welders and iron-workers who create these doors are used to fabricating gates, fences and heavy security doors so it was not much of a stretch for them to create screen door designs. In fact, they are much easier to create than heavier pieces. Red River Restorations in Austin is a business that specializes in restoring and recreating old doors in old houses with a modern flair. Some of the doors are geometric or abstract curlicues. And some portray a simple scene, like herons. When I visited the old neighborhoods of Austin, Texas, two years ago, I was delighted to see so many unique doorways.

I photographed some of these doors on my trip and had the occasion to chat with an owner or two. They all had a unique story and were able to find an artist to craft that story into a door.

custom screen door

A custom screen door with roses.

The artists who create these doors attempt to make the design fit with the house and the culture.  For example a beach house in Florida has a swordfish on the door because the owner is a deep-sea fisherman. A gingerbread house with a  quaint old design has delicate roses in the corners.

With this trend in remodeling screen doors, wood carvers have joined in. Many screen doors are wooden with carved nature scenes in front of the screening. And even the screening has changed since the 1950’s. It is often made of a special solar shade material that keeps the heat index down but let’s the cool air blow through. This is especially important for front doors that face east or southwest into the direct sun.

Welders and iron-workers quickly saw the opportunity to package their custom doors with custom door handles, doorknockers, and kickplates so homeowners get a complete matching package. I could write a separate article just on doorknockers because they are so artful and  plentiful. But suffice it to say these threshold additions are modernly refreshing. It’s always a pleasure when old meets new without clashing, and this is the case with these custom screened doors and door accessories.


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