Screen door mod provides better view

12
By Greg Illes
My standard screen door was built in three sections — the same as most other screen doors. Top and bottom were screened, and the center had a blank panel and a sliding door for access to the main door handle.
So?
View from outside.

Well, I noticed after a while that the center blank panel had two issues. First, it was completely opaque, and when we wanted to have that “light, airy” feeling, it was kind of visually in the way. Secondly, it was made of metal, and had an obnoxious tendency to contribute to “road rattle.” During a big-projects lull, I decided to do something.

I went online (Amazon is wonderful), and found a small 12×24 sheet of clear acrylic plexiglass. The existing metal panel resided in a groove that was just about exactly 1/16″ thick, so that’s the thickness of plastic that I ordered.
View from inside.

When the plastic arrived (I think it was about $12 or so), I checked the fit in the groove and it was perfect. So I cut the plastic to size (fine-tooth saber saw), and bent/pried/yanked the old metal out of the door. The plastic sheet fitted perfectly, but it was loose enough to have a rattle of its own. This was handily fixed with a tiny bead of RTV.

I found some white U-channel edge trim (thanks again Amazon) and finished off the exposed edge of the acrylic. The finished product looks good, but it certainly won’t take the abuse that a metal panel will. We will treat it gently.
Now my screen door is much more “welcoming.” It sounds like a small thing, and I guess it is, but for a cheap, quick project, the new look was well worth the minimal trouble.
Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. 
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alan smith
4 months ago

I don’t understand why they can’t make a latch for screen doors with handles on both sides and do away with the sliding cover

Mark B
5 months ago

Add the clear slide, too.
Camco 45512 Screen Door Slide (12″ x 11.5″, Clear),
Camco 430305 (12×8 Clear),
Camco also has a 2 piece set (clear plexi + clear door slide (12×11.5 + 12×12)) for 24″ door, about $20.

Wolfe
5 months ago

The screen door is one of my biggest pet peeves on my rv… i’d like to rip it off as a conspicuously under-designed nuisance but my wife sometimes uses it.

So flimsy it sags and drags on the floor every other day. It can be lifted and deformed back into position but then it will be sagging back again because it’s too weak to stay rectangular. Eventually I’ll get mad enough to add a diagonal support.

Screen on the bottom, perfect for kids to kick out, dogs and cats to tear, etc. I put resilient pet-proof screen on mine AND a flat panel for when I don’t need that trivial airflow. Cross windows do more than that little screen adds.

Plastic on metal latch? That should last 9 openings before it bevels and is useless… I smoothed the cut metal to at least stop shaving the plastic.

One sided catch? Imagine having to open your window to open your front door at home? Dumb. I put a string on mine to stop the silliness.

Pass through slider… never used it as such… it’s just the window for opening the door. I’m usually carrying a platter or pitcher that can’t be tipped, not passing a toothpick out the door. Combined with the string latch, I pinched the track to make it harder to accidentally leave ajar.

Ah, the joys of cheap RV manufacturing…

WEB
5 months ago
Reply to  Wolfe

Wow and here I had thought homeless people had troubles….

PennyPA
5 months ago

We have 2 dogs and 2 cats (and 2 birds, too, but they don’t count in this scenario) and we wanted them to be able to see outside even when they couldn’t be out so we had the local big box store cut us a piece of plexiglass to fit the bottom of the door. Installed that with screws through the screen-door frame and voila! The cats, who used to climb the screen, sit there with the dogs and gaze out the new “window”.

Barb & Ben
5 months ago

We have 2 small dogs that travel with us. We have put plexiglas in the lower screen panel so they do not go through the screen if they jump on the screen door – still lots of air from the top screen. We have also added the push bar from Amazon – makes the screen door sturdy!

tom
5 months ago

A friend had a incident last summer that is an interesting challenge involving the solid screen door.
The outside door lock failed internally, and the door was locked, by the failure. The solid screen door blocked the interior screws that held the lock to the door, making it extremely difficult to remove and replace.

John Sciortino
5 months ago
Reply to  tom

I had a friend that the exact same thing happened. It happened last summer at Viking Lake in Iowa.
Maybe it’s the same friend.

Penny Heist
3 years ago

Those pics are of 2 different doors…and neither one is the “after” view.

Wolfe
5 months ago
Reply to  Penny Heist

Er, same door AND both are after… that’s clear plastic.

Pat Shaw
3 years ago

I think Camping world has a clear slide for the screen door also, that would give you even more light.

John Connaughton
3 years ago

Nice. But the 2 pics here both look like after. I swear I can see the table and bottom of the table window thru the center panel on the BEFORE pic, and of course I can see the gravel thru the center panel on the AFTER pic. Also, some closeups of the channel and plexiglass would be nice. Maybe you can update this. Thanks!