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What are Phantom Screens?

Whether you get months and months of sunny skies, or summer is fleeting, all of us want to make the most of great weather. How do we go about doing this? Well, there are a lot of ways to enjoy some fresh air, but admittedly most of them require leaving the house. If going outside isn’t always on your list of to-do’s, adding an indoor-outdoor element to your home can help. Cue Phantom Screen's retractable screen door. 

Anyone who has spent time reckoning with removing and replacing a screen door in their home knows the struggle is real. The Phantom Screen is a product that allows you all of the advantages of maintaining screen doors without any of the off-season hassle. 

Phantom Screens set out to solve the nuisance of seasonal screen installation by designing screen doors and windows that you can “set and forget” until you need to use it. But what does that mean? And how is that even possible? We looked into it.

What is a Phantom Screen door?

The Phantom Screen door is a retractable sliding screen that can be slid in and out of a hidden position on a track. When open, they tuck into their own discreet housing leaving only the handles in view. This makes the screens feel nearly invisible while not in use. Still can't picture it? It may be easiest to think of Phantom Screens as the exterior version of a popular interior door style called a pocket door. 

The Phantom Screens brand was founded in 1992 by Dutch immigrant Syb Rypma and the Rooke family. Over the last 29 years, they have expanded globally and formed partnerships with Home Depot and Houzz. After the success of their product, other retractable screens began hitting the market. Still, Phantom Screens remains the easiest model to find from distributors across the United States. 

How do they work?

Phantom Screens work in the same way that all pocket-style doors function. The screen door is installed on a sliding track that retreats far into a wall space along the exterior of your home. This wall space, called a cassette, is nearly equal in depth to the length of the screen itself. When not in use, homeowners slide the door closed into this track, stowing it along the length of their home. When fully closed, only the handles remain visible to the eye.

Phantom Screens offer a decent level of customization in both color and screen type. The company allows homeowners to choose from a range of 10 shades in order to find one that best suits their color palette. This means you won’t be stuck installing a white framed sliding screen door on your darkly paneled home, (the horror!). If you are willing to pay a little more, the company will even create a custom color specific to your home.

What are the benefits of retractable screens?

There are more benefits to investing in retractable screening than you may think. Yes, there is most obviously the aesthetic benefit. It’s undoubtedly nice to enjoy the view from inside your home without any obstruction. Additionally, there is the convenience of reduced maintenance. Instead of changing out screens with the seasons, you can simply slide and stow. But what else?

Well, retractable screens are not only less of a hassle, but they also last longer than traditional screens, too. Turns out that an “out of sight, out of mind” approach not only prevents the screens from blocking the view, but protects them from the elements as well.

Even leaving a traditional screen door up all summer long will produce wear and tear. All it takes is one good summer thunderstorm to blow through. Additionally, no matter the weather a traditional screen will be subject to wear from kids, dogs, and the impact of day to day traffic. Being able to stow screens when they aren’t being used keeps them away from nearly all of this traditional wear and tear. This means your investment is likely to last you a long time.

Is it just for doors?

If you’re like me, you likely hadn’t considered the need for a product like this past the main entrance and exit door of your home. But looking a little closer, there are actually a lot of operable ways invisible screens can improve your indoor-outdoor living experience. And that’s by extending past doors to accommodate windows, garages, and more. 

Most of us commonly accept that our window views will always be slightly disrupted by the existence of a mesh screen just beyond the glass. It’s not the prettiest, but it lets us open our windows wide and air out the room without inviting in flies, bees, and everyones’ favorite- mosquitoes. Phantom Screens addressed this issue by making their retractable screens fit windows as well.

Like doors, the window screens slide up and away into their pocket while not in use, allowing you a clear view. When it’s time to let some air in, you open your window, and slide the screen out of its pocket. Phantom Screens claims that their products fit most sizes of rectangular or squared windows, although we imagine there are limits to their capabilities. Older homes may have more of a challenge accommodating sliding screens than newer builds. 

Additionally, the Phantom Screen line extends to include other, more niche outdoor living spaces. The company reports that garage installations are some of their most popular requests. Use their 25 foot wall screens to block your sun porch, linae, or even your outdoor kitchen.

Do other companies make similar products?

Yes, there are a number of other companies, big and small, that make similar products. Examples include Genius Screens and Brisa. Costs of installation between companies are likely pretty equal, although many brands including Genius do not readily provide pricing information.

Still, if you’re looking to decide on a retractable screen brand for your home, seeing what quality brand is most easily available to you may be the deciding factor. In that regard, Phantom Screens remains one of the most popular and accessible retracting screen brands on the market.

It should also be noted that not all brands will service the same set of doors and windows. Some may only make screens to fit single or French doors. Some, like Phantom, will accommodate windows and other outdoor structures as well. If you’d like every door and window of your home outfitting with a retracting screen, Phantom Screens is a good option due to their versatility.

What is the installation process like?

DIYers, turn off your engines. Phantom Screens reports that their products are not meant to be installed by homeowners. Part of the cost of purchase is a professional installation. If you’ve been taking screens in and out of your doorways for decades, you may be resistant to the idea of asking a professional for help. But in reality, you’ll probably need it.

The company reports that a single door can take as little as an hour to fit. More extensive replacements will take more time. So if you’re planning on overhauling every door and window of your home, expect to set aside a few good days for the process.

Motorized Screens

If you’ve read our article on another popular brand, StruXure, you know that nowadays, manual operation is quickly fading in the face of mechanical options. Yep, that right, Phantom Screens offers motorized versions of their retractable screens for both doors and windows.

These motorized screens expand and retract at the touch of a button. And if you think outside the box a bit, you can take this technology to the next level and create a truly remarkable inside-outside living space. How?

One of the most popular kinds of motorized screens Phantom sells are their “wall screens”. These wall screens extend up to 25 feet, and create a protective barrier of mesh that allows you complete air flow and immersion without any pesky bugs or outside debris. Think of it as an incredibly elevated, modern day version of a screened in porch.

How much does a Phantom Screen cost?

All of this may sound great, but we know it doesn’t matter unless you can afford it. So, how expensive are these suckers? Well, the answer depends on several things. On the company website, the brand prompts you to enter your zip code. This means that, including installation, pricing is different depending where you live.

In my neck of the woods, simple models start at around $500 dollars, and increase with the complexity and size of the screen. Most double and sliding door models start at around $1000 dollars. Phantom plays it off as though this is exceedingly cheap. And depending on the amount you use them, it may be well worth the cost. But there’s no denying this is a pricey leap from your run of the mill sliding screen.

In Conclusion…

Phantom Screen is a brand offering retractable screen doors, windows, and outdoor screening solutions. Their premise is built on the belief that homeowners shouldn’t need to remove screens yearly, or have their view impeded by mesh. Other brands make similar products, but Phantom is wide-ranging, well regarded, and offers a very large variety of styles and colors. But is it worth the splurge? It depends.

If you find yourself doing a ton of indoor-outdoor living, and hanging out year round with doors and windows open, then this may be a great investment. Frequent good weather means you will likely get ample use out of them. On the other hand, those living in spaces that gather only a few months of great weather a year may not find the same value in them. Although, it does solve the problem of replacing your screen door with a glass version each year when the temperature drops.

Overall, every home is different. Every family uses their space differently. Phantom offers skeptical homeowners the chance to get their home assessed and their options reviewed to see if they might be a good fit. From there, the choice is all yours!

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