How to identify, install, or replace a storm or screen door handle

Easy to do yourself

Surface mount storm door handles are easy to install or replace by yourself. We only make surface mount handles. We don't have mortise handle sets.   

If your new handle matches the hole configuration of the old one, the entire job should be done in just a few minutes with nothing but a screwdriver. A set of pliers might help to break the spindle, also.

Here's a quick break-down of this article:

Tools required

You won't need much to complete this project, but having the right tools prepared ahead of time will make it much easier.

If you're replacing an old handle with standard hole spacings, all you'll need is:

  • Phillips head (crosshead) screwdriver (or a screwdriver with swappable heads)

If your old handle doesn't have standard hole spacings, or you're doing a fresh installation, you'll also need:

  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bit set
  • Pencil or pen for marking hole locations

Standard hole spacings

Most surface-mount handles have standard 1-3/4" hole-spacings (the configuration, placement, and size of holes needed for components to pass through your door). 

With the exception of the  ML Series, all of Ideal's handles, levers, and latches use the same standard hole spacings, and many other brands use the same spacings as us so you can use our handle sets to upgrade your existing hardware. 

Even if the hole spacings don't match, drilling new holes shouldn't be too challenging if you know your way around a drill.

Types of storm door handles

There are several types of storm and screen door handles. The overall installation process is the same for all of them, but it's good to know what type of handle you're installing before you get started.

Classic push-button handles

This is your classic push-button storm door handle. The OG, if you will. It's the one we all grew up with, and the most familiar. You release the latch by pushing in on the button, then pull the door open.

Pull handles

Believe it or not, Ideal Security really shook things up way back in '94 when we introduced the very first pull handles for storm doors. We looked at storm doors and asked ourselves, "Why do we have to  push in on a button, then pull out on a handle to get this thing open? That's just crazy!" 

So, after 40 years of manufacturing push-button handles, we designed a brand new one. A handle that would revolutionize the way we interact with storm doors. A handle to put all other handles to shame: The Pull Handle.

What's a pull handle? It's exactly what it sounds like. Rather than pushing a button to unlatch the door, you simply pull on the handle. Like so:


You'll be familiar with levers, because you find them on most inside doors. Storm door levers look great and are easy to use.

Installation instructions

This image outlines the basic steps involved in installing a new storm door handle. Note that the steps in the image don't correspond to the numbered steps in the instructions below, which are more detailed.

  1. Start by removing your old storm door handle.
  2. If your new handle-set features a backplate, position the back plate and fasten it onto the door rail with the plate tie-down screw, which should be included with and be the same color as the handle-set (our handle sets include all necessary installation hardware).
    The backplate may be optional, and whether you install it or not will depend on your personal preferences.
    • If you're installing a backplate and your current handle doesn't have a backplate, you may need to drill a 1/8" hole through only the outer skin of the door (fig. 1)
  3. If you're installing a lever handle, rotate the outside handle to the left or right according to your door handedness before moving on.
  4. Assemble the spindle and spring, then insert them through the outside of the door as shown in the "Assembly view"  (fig. 1).
  5. Place the new handle onto the outside of the door.
  6. With the handle on the door, the spindle should extend 5/16" through the other side the storm door (fig. 3). It should not touch the mechanism of the inside latch.
  7. If the spindles included with your replacement handle set are too long, you can cut them to length. The spindles will either be segmented into easy to break sections, or you can use a hacksaw to cut the spindle.
  8. With the spindle properly sized, you can mount the inside latch on the inside of the door.
  9. Fasten the handle to the inside latch with machine screws. Insert the screws through the holes in the inside latch, into the screw-posts on the exterior handle, and tighten.
    If these screws are too long, you can either cut them like the spindle, or reuse your old screws if they're in good condition.
  10. Finally, attach the new strike to the door jamb, with the 6" x 1" screws usually included in standard handle sets. Line up the strike so that it firmly engages the latch. (fig. 4).
    If necessary,  you can shim the strike plastic shims. We include shims with every one of our handle sets.

Installing an optional deadbolt

Your handle set may include a separate deadbolt, or you may have bought an add-on deadbolt separately.

  1. Insert the deadbolt spindle, from the inside, through the center hole into the key lock.
  2. As with the handle, you may need to cut your spindle to suit your door thickness. The spindle should project through the inside of the door a maximum of 1/2″ and min of 1/4″.
  3. Place the deadbolt on the inside of the door, and fasten it to the exterior key lock with two tapping screws.
  4. Place the strike for the deadbolt against the jamb, and fasten with two tapping screws.

You're done!

That's all there is to it! As we said, replacing or upgrading your storm or screen door handle is an easy DIY job that you should be able to take care of in 5 or 10 minutes. No need to call a professional for this one.

Now go ahead, sit back and grab a beer. You've earned it!