Retractable Screens 101

French Door Screens

Retractable Screens on French Doors
Retractable Screens on French Doors

Retractable Screens - A screen by any other name...

Retractable Screen Doors are often called by several other names- all essentially meaning the same thing. They are:

  1. Vanishing Screens (also the name of a brand)
  2. Invisible Screens
  3. Phantom Screens (yet another brand)
  4. Disappearing Screens

And there are lots of Manufacturers including:

  1. ODL- sold at Home Depot
  2. Phantom - sold at Lowes
  3. ClearView Retractable Screens
  4. Mirage Screens
  5. Wizard Screens- also available at some Home Depots
  6. Some lesser brands- Genius, Reel (now changed to Casper, Stoett, Festerman Screens)

DIY Retractable Screen Doors

There are 4 grades of Retractable Screens

  1. DIY - you can buy these at home depot or online at several places- around $250 not installed or built
  • These never look like they came with your home- different color components, like bottom tracks in white on a black threshold
  • Some are decent in quality if installed and measured correctly- but you really have to know what you are doing, have access to a really good miter saw with a good metal blade, and have LOTS of patience.

2.  Slightly less expensive Retractable Screens - usually in the $350 range

  • Tend to be companies like Casper Screens, Vanishing Screens
  • Are installed same day you order- cut right in your driveway!
  • Always have a step that you have to be careful not to trip over on the threshold.
  • Made of thinner aluminum that can bend when stepped on- which often leads to bent tracks that will drive you crazy.

3. Better Quality Retractable Screen Doors - usually in the $350-$400 range.

A. Phantom, Wizard, Aira, Eclipse, and Mirage screen systems

  • Ironically all made in British Columbia
  • Stonger aluminum components that won't bend if you step on them
  • Only sold professionally installed
  • Won't fall apart after use
  • - All slam very aggressively when let go
  • - Most are an enamel finish- except Mirage, that will fade over time
  • - All are 3 sided only- so you see the tube and the screen from inside

Clearview Retractable Screens

4. Clearview Retractable Screens - usually around $400

  • The only patented retractable screen - it won't slam when you let it go!
  • The thickest, highest grade aluminum- won't bend or break when you step on it
  • Color matched to both your home and your threshold
  • Powder coated so it won't fade and is scratch resistant
  • The only retractable screen with some aesthetics in mind.
  • Professionally measured, manufactured locally, and installed by a national network- Made in the USA


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Comments 6 comments

Curtis 6 years ago

Very educational. I would have never thought screens could get so complicated. This article sums it all up for retractable screens. Ill be sure to do my homework when purchasing retractable screens. I would hate to spend money on a unit that's destined to fall apart.


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thehis 6 years ago from San Diego Author

Thanks for the kinds word Curtis- its not that they're complicated, it's that there's just a big difference in quality in the market.

Kevin 6 years ago

Wow- I'm glad I read this. We're in the market for some, and was very confused. Thanks for the article!

Dan 5 years ago

Awesome information, thanks for the help

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lmferrer 4 years ago

I recently had Phantom Screens installed on my back patio. This is a real unique product and I love everything so far! I got a quote over the phone, right when I called in. The installers were professional, efficient and got the job done correctly the first time. It was very refreshing to get to deal with a company like this and I would recommend them to anyone I know!

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JScottM 3 years ago

Stoett manufactures the 'StowAway' retractable door screen.

I have been a Stoett Industries dealer for 3 years. Do not purchase StowAway Retractable Screens or PanoramaLite Retractable Screens!! ...both products have several design flaws and are very poorly manufactured. Stoett claims to have a lifetime warranty but does not back up any warranty claims. Do not waste time, money, and effort on Stoett products; StowAway or Panorama Lite!! = inferior products

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