Spahn & Rose Blog

Larson Storm Door Installation: What Contractors Should Know


With summer coming to an end and the weather beginning to turn, many homeowners are looking for ways to protect their home from fall and winter weather. There are many practical upgrades available, from improving insulation to installing new storm doors.

The good news is that being practical doesn’t have to mean sacrificing aesthetics. The era of utilitarian storm doors to keep your house warm and dry are long gone. Today’s storm door designs offer the protection homeowners need, with modern designs that don’t detract from the overall look of the house.

Spahn & Rose partners with leading suppliers to offer modern storm doors that are not only functional but appealing as well. One of our favorite storm door suppliers is Larson. In business for more than 60 years, Larson is the largest storm door manufacturer in the United States.

Over the decades, Larson has made a name for itself for quality and innovation. Larson treats a storm door as a key component of a home’s design and security, not just a way to keep wind and rain out, Larson has established itself as an industry leader.


Some of our favorite Larson innovations include:

  • EasyHang installation. Larson doors come with a complete rail system that makes installing them on the existing doorframe a cinch.
  • Click&Hold with Built-In Closer. This newest feature tucks the closer away above the storm door, instead of leaving an unsightly piston closer out in the open. The Click&Hold mechanism keeps the storm door open for easy in and out, but closes again with a gentle pull.
  • ScreenAway Door. No more stiff, corroded clips to raise and lower the screen. The ScreenAway Door rolls the screen up into the storm door when it’s not in use. It’s then easy to slide down using just one hand.
  • Keyed lock. Larson latches are available with a keyed lock and deadbolt, to improve home security.
  • KeepSafe glass. This storm door glass has been repeatedly tested and is impact resistant. It helps to keep the home safe, even when the main exterior door is left open.

Larson stands by its products, offering a limited lifetime warranty for its heavy-duty aluminum door.

It’s simple to install a Larson storm door with the EasyHang installation process. Larson’s website is full of helpful how-to videos, and the basics of door installation are as follows:

Easy Steps for Installing a Larson Storm Door


Note: These instructions for installation of  Larson’s standard storm door with the new Click&Hold with Built-In Closer. For tips on installing other Larson closers, visit

Step 1. Prepare your Storm Door Hardware

Before you begin, verify that the house’s door trim is securely attached and square. You need a mounting surface one inch wide by one inch deep to mount your new storm door. 

Larson doors come with a complete set of storm door hardware. Make sure you have all parts are before starting the installation.

Step 2. Secure the Glass

Remove the expander and lock body from the edge of the door. Remove the four yellow plastic shipping clips. Slide them to the center of the opening and push them toward the middle of the glass, slightly bowing the screen. Remove the clips and the screen, leaving the glass in place. 

Secure the glass by inserting the retainer into the track on the inside edge of the door. Start at the top and work your way down, applying pressure as you go. Repeat on the opposite side of the door.

Step 3. Prepare the Frame

Place the screw template tight against the hinge side of the doorframe and slide it to the top. Hold the template in place and install the hinge screw through the hole in the template. Leave approximately an eighth of an inch of the screw exposed. 

Step 4. Install the Hinge Rail and Door

Slide the rail extender marked with an L into the bottom of the hinge rail. Hang the door on the screw you just installed, then tighten the screw while pushing the top of the hinge rail tight against your door frame. Install a screw in the bottom hole of the hinge rail. Slide the rail extender down to the sill. Install screws into the remaining holes on the inner side of the hinge rail. 

Close the door, push it tight against the hinge side of your doorframe, and install screws into each hole on the outer side of the hinge rail. Cut the extender weather stripping to length. Peel off the backing and apply.


Step 5. Install the Drip Cap

Insert the assembled hold open clip and slider pad into the track of the top drip cap with the arrows pointing toward the hinges. Place the drip cap at the top of your door frame and align the end with the outside of the hinge rail. Close the door. Adjust the drip cap so you have an even reveal and the door makes contact with the weatherstripping.

Step 6. Install the Latch Rail

Slide the rail extender marked with an R into the bottom of the latch rail. Place the latch rail on the side of your door frame and slide it up tight against the drip cap. Slide the rail extender down to the sill. Align the outside edge of the latch rail with the edge of the drip cap. 

Verify that the door operates freely. Fasten the latch rail to your door frame using the provided screws. Cut the extender or weatherstripping to length. Peel off the backing and apply.

Step 7. Install QuickFit Hardware

QuickFit Hardware and strike plates are packaged and sold separately from your Larson storm door. Install following the instructions in the package, depending on your design.

Step 8. Install the Bottom Expander

Install the bottom expander with the holes on the inside surface of the storm door. Slide the expander down until the rubber sweep lightly touches your threshold and secure with screws.


Step 9. Mount the Closer Arm

Mount the closer arm to the top of the closer with the L facing up. Secure the closer arm in place with the closer bolt and tighten with the provided Allen wrench. 

Hold the closer with one hand and rotate the closer arm 90 degrees. Install the installation pin into the hole on the closer and release the closer arm. 

Install the closer into the pocket at the top of the door. Align the pre-installed screws with the holes in the top of the door and tighten. 

Close the door slowly to align the hole in the end of the closer arm to the slider pad. Install the slider bolt through the closer arm and into the slider pad. 

Open the door to your desired hold open position, usually around 90 degrees, and tighten the set screw in the hold open clip. Remove the installation pin from the top of the closer and close the door. Adjust the closer speed on top of the closer using a flat head screwdriver.

Step 10. Apply Screw Cover Strips

Snap the screw cover strips into the mounting rails by installing the outer side first. Start at one end and slide your finger along the strip while pressing down. And with that, your new storm door is installed. You now have a beautiful and safe storm door to let in more natural light and highlight the outdoors. 

For more information on new innovations in storm doors, or to find the right one for your next project, visit Spahn & Rose.

12 Reasons Spahn & Rose Is Your Choice for Affordable Cabinets

Buying cabinets at a big-box store is like trying to pick between the last two kids for a dodgeball team: Just point at one and hope it all works out.

When you work with a Spahn & Rose cabinet design expert, though, you control every detail of the buying process, including how much you spend.

“At Spahn & Rose, you’re not forced to pick A or B, but rather choose your option and make modifications as needed—all within your budget,” says Jesse Pagel, a cabinet designer at Spahn & Rose’s Waverly, Iowa, location.

Below are a dozen reasons why Spahn & Rose is your choice for affordable cabinetry. When you’re ready to make your dream kitchen a reality, schedule a consultation with a Spahn & Rose cabinet designer.

 Attention to detail. Compare a cabinet drawing from a big-box store to a design from Spahn & Rose and you’ll see how much more attention to detail you’ll receive from an expert cabinet designer. “We will work with you on every little detail,” says Maria Burgmeier, a cabinet designer at Spahn & Rose in Dubuque. “It’s all about detail, and that’s what Spahn & Rose specializes in. You’re not going to get that kind of service at Lowe’s or Menards.”

Budget-setting advice. Especially if you’re remodeling or building a house for the first time, you may not have any sense of what kind of budget to set for cabinetry. At a big-box store, the staff won’t help you define it. But at Spahn & Rose, expert cabinet designers can guide you through the entire process: budgeting, cabinet selection and installation.

Multiple cabinet lines. Spahn & Rose offers a variety of cabinet lines in all price ranges. Once you know which cabinet style you’re looking for, Spahn & Rose designers have many options to determine which line will work best within your budget.

Want/need checklist. When price is a concern—and when isn’t it?—a Spahn & Rose cabinet designer can review your cabinet wants and needs to figure out which features are necessary to achieve your desired functionality and style while staying within your price range.

Accurate measurements. At a big box, the customer is solely responsible for this. When you work with Spahn & Rose, a cabinet design expert visits your home to take measurements and will meet with you multiple times to review the design and make any changes you request. Having to reorder cabinets after an inaccurate measurement is an expense and aggravation you shouldn’t have to worry about.

Upgradable design. In addition to the current cabinet remodel or renovation, Spahn & Rose designers can help you plan for updates or additions. For example, you can add crown molding later to keep your initial cost lower. Or you might want to opt for laminate countertops at first, then upgrade to stone later. Roll trays can be added down the road too, as can custom pull-outs, door spice racks, tray dividers and pot-and-pan caddies.

Workflow analysis. Spahn & Rose cabinet designers will help you save money without sacrificing aesthetics. For example, says Dawn Tiesman, cabinet designer at the DeWitt, Iowa, location, she might add cabinet features in the highest-traffic areas of a kitchen to increase efficiency—but save money by using more basic cabinets in areas that aren’t used as much.

Creative, money-saving solutions. Spahn & Rose cabinet designers’ vast experience enables them to incorporate design elements that look beautiful yet don’t break your budget—open shelving with finished interiors that can be equipped with decorative baskets, for instance. Using cabinets of different depths and staggering uppers, meanwhile, can boost the look of a kitchen more than the typical straight 30-inch uppers.

Several wood options. Wood species plays an important role in cabinets’ price. Currently, oak and maple are more economical choices than hickory, alder or cherry. But Spahn & Rose cabinet designers can help you get the look of higher-end wood with richly hued stains.

Door, shelf, feature evaluations. Cabinets with doors and shelves are the most economical option, but don’t settle for a cabinet with a useless design. Spahn & Rose designers evaluate how you use your kitchen and assess the workflow of your space. They’ll then determine whether a door with shelves, door with roll-out tray or cabinet with drawer storage is best for you. This analysis will also increase efficiency and usability and decrease the chance of damage—extending your cabinets’ life and saving you money in the long run.

Affordable customization. Designing cabinets for your space to your precise specifications can be no more expensive than buying off-the shelf cabinets at a big-box store, thanks to Spahn & Rose’s deep access to multiple cabinet companies. Because Spahn & Rose cabinets aren’t prebuilt boxes, construction and accessories can be easily adjusted with each cabinet.

Many door styles. Door style is usually one of the first things Jesse Pagel looks at when a customer wants to save money. Many cabinet manufacturers offer door styles at various price tiers. Spahn & Rose cabinet designers can show you door styles that are similar—but lower-cost. “Many times just changing the door style is enough to get within a customer’s budget, and we’re able to find the same style too,” she says.

Trex Decking Installation: How to Install Planks and Railings


It’s the end of summer and many homeowners are no doubt realizing they didn’t use their backyard nearly as much as they wanted to this year. They’re thinking maybe a deck will help get them outside more. Or they already have a wood deck and realize the boards are tired, or that the regular maintenance of cleaning and staining is becoming too much.

Right now is a great time to install a new deck. Cooler days mean it’s easier to work outside and if you’re working with composite decking, you’ll need to account for expansion less than you would on the hottest summer days, making installation easier too.

Spahn & Rose supplies composite decking material from a number of high-quality suppliers, including Trex. Trex offers a high-performance product with deep woodgrain patterns and luxury colors to suit every homeowner’s taste. And its products are easy to install, making it a great option for contractors to work with.

This guide walks you through the basics of Trex Decking installation for planks and railings. Additional how-to resources are available on the Trex website, including a detailed installation guide.


Prep Work: Storage and Structure Supports 


We’ve talked about the best way to store your composite decking in this blog post. As you’re getting your materials ready, be sure to store your Trex decking planks and rails on a flat surface and out of direct sunlight to help minimize expansion before you install.

Next, you’ll need to set your structure supports, including joists. Trex requires that all deck planks be supported by at least three joists, with additional support built-in under areas of the deck that will be carrying heavy loads, like large planters or hot tubs. 

Once your joists are in, you’ll need to install any necessary 4” x 4” support posts for railings, as these will be fixed to the joists before the decking planks are installed. 


How to Set and Install Trex Decking Planks


While it can be tempting to start fastening planks right away, Trex recommends that you completely lay out the decking over the joists. This not only helps you make sure you manage your cuts so you don’t have too many small pieces at one end; it also helps your client see the overall color variation from the woodgrain, and identify places where those variations are too similar or visually jarring.

Many homeowners choose composite decking because it lasts longer than wood with less maintenance. It isn’t prone to rotting, warping or fading the way wood is. But composite decking material will still expand and contract in the elements, and you will need to include space to permit this when installing Trex decking.

For Trex decking planks, the recommended end-to-end and side gaps range from ⅛” to 3/16”, according to the temperature on the day of installation. The gap against the permanent structure ranges from ¼” to ½”, according to installation temperature. 

If you’re building a deck with metal framing and joists, it will expand differently than wood. As a result, minimum gapping for your deck board will be different as well. Refer to the appropriate installation guide for details.

Once you have your whole deck laid out and are happy with the patterns, it’s time to start fastening your Trex decking planks in place.

Trex Hideaway Universal Hidden Fasteners are the recommended fastener for all Trex products. They are designed not to crack or shred the composite material during installation. Trex composite planks are designed to conceal the fasteners in grooves along the sides of each plank, keeping the deck surface clean and uninterrupted.

Screw the end of each board twice into a joist. End-to-end junctions should be fastened to two joists for extra security. 


The Best Way to Install Trex Decking Railing


Once the planks are in place, it’s time to install any railing. Many building codes will have minimum requirements for railing heights and spacing, so make sure you’re familiar with these before you start.

Trex Transcend Railing is the company’s highest-performance railing line. It offers more colors for more components than competitors and gives homeowners the opportunity to mix and match colors and profiles to get the exact look they want.

Transcend Railing can be installed in six different configurations ranging from classic crown railing to a modern cocktail rail using Trex decking planks instead of post caps. Homeowners can choose from classic composite balusters, round or square aluminum balusters, or swap out balusters completely for glass paneling or another custom solution.

If you’re installing railing, your support posts must be installed after the joists and before the decking planks. Trex post sleeve skirts and post sleeves are designed to fit over these 4” x 4” posts and will slide right down to the deck surface. 

Next, you’ll need to install railing support brackets. Trex offers a template to ensure that these are fastened exactly where they need to go. If you’re working without a template, mark the post sleeves at 5½” from the base and either 35 1/16” or 41 1/16” from the base, depending on the height of your posts. Use the wood screws provided to make sure the post sleeves don’t crack.

Once your support brackets are in place, you’ll need to measure the distance between the posts before cutting your rails. Trex recommends installing posts at 6- or 8-foot intervals, but measure to be sure and cut both your railings and baluster spacers as needed. If you’re installing staircase railing, you’ll also need to mark the angle for the railing cut.

Bottom rails need to be supported, so you’ll want to attach a foot block. Then you’re all set to attach the bottom rail into the railing support bracket, using the self-tapping screws provided. Attach the top rail the same way. Finally, you can snap your baluster spacers into the bottom rail, and place an inverted baluster spacer on top of it for later installation in the top rail.

Balusters should fit in place through the spacers. You’ll need to install them at an angle into the bottom rail and then slide them into place in the top rail. Don’t worry if they’re not fully straight or won’t stay completely upright. The next to last step is to slide those inverted baluster spacers up and snap them into place in the top rail, which should fix your balusters in place.

The final step to installing a great looking railing is to place the caps on top of the support posts. Use a silicone or PVC adhesive to secure it into place.


Contact Spahn & Rose for a Free Estimate


A composite deck will look great for decades, and homeowners will get to spend more time enjoying their outdoor space and less time maintaining it. Trex composite decking is a versatile product with color and configuration options to match any vision.

For help getting started, contact your local Spahn & Rose representative, or work with your clients to try out the Trex Deck Designer and give them the deck of their dreams. Your Spahn & Rose representative can provide a free estimate for decking materials and create a building materials list.  

Before & After: Spahn & Rose Kitchen Makeovers

Spahn & Rose cabinet-design experts can turn any space into a beautiful, functional kitchen or bathroom. Here are three examples showing how Spahn & Rose cabinet designer Maria Burgmeier, based in the Dubuque location, has helped customers solve problems specific to their needs and space.


A Contractor’s Guide to Windows: Fiberglass Vs. Vinyl Vs. Aluminum

Many homeowners don’t give a lot of thought to choosing their window material. If you ask them, they may say they’ve heard wooden windows look great but require more upkeep than other types. But if you ask them which they prefer when it comes to fiberglass vs. vinyl vs. aluminum, many won’t know the difference.


Spahn & Rose Employee Steps Up for Heart Walk

This past May 4, the Iowa sky blazed a brilliant blue for the annual American Heart Association Heart Walk. On the beautiful, May day, thousands of participants lined up, ready to take the first steps of riverside route to raise money and awareness for the American Heart Association.


Software Developer Tina Long Receives Above & Beyond Award

A company-wide conversion to a new computer system can be stressful, confusing and puzzling. But Software Developer Tina Long eased the recent transition by providing quick and thorough responses to other Spahn & Rose employees, which earned her the Above & Beyond Award, presented to Spahn & Rose employees who exemplify the company’s commitment to customer service excellence.


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