Geoff and Beth find a vintage “P” for their screen door grille — it only took four years!

screen-door-initialsRetro Renovation projects are all about the details — and no detail is too small! You know those mill-finish screen doors that everyone had back in the day? Including with the style with a grille guard protector thingie designed with a place to hold the family surname initial? Geoff and Beth found the door and grille relatively easily — but a “P” to finish it off — that took a while! 


Geoff wrote:

Our house was built in ’58 and had been last updated in the ’70s. Once we moved in around 2011, we started renovating and trying to get it back to how it would or could have been originally. It’s been a long process (partially because finding old stuff takes a lot longer than new, as you know, but that stuff has so much more character). The house had a hollow core front door and a cheapo full glass storm door on it when we moved in. We replaced the front door with a wood slab that we cut a diamond window into. After that, I found out that Sutherland’s still keeps mill finish screen doors in stock. We got one and replaced our storm door with that. We found the grille at a vintage shop in the West Bottoms in Kansas City, and I took it apart and polished it up and riveted it back together. Finally, after looking on ebay for a “P” for four years one showed up — (it’s a hard letter to find) — and I riveted that into the grill. We love it and it makes the porch and door feel complete.


And, Geoff delivered this little extra woof of happy:

Here’s another pic with our pug Tilly enjoying the breeze:


Nicely done, Geoff and Beth!

Link love: 

Readers, you can follow Beth and Geoff on Instagram here:

Note, while we have identified several sources for mill finish screen doors (<< plus read the comments in that story for possibly more), we have not identified a source to get either the grilles or round initials made new. As far as I know: You must find these vintage. They are around, though. I’ve seen either and/or both on ebay and at estate sales.

Another idea: Keep an eye out for people moving into the neighborhood who are immediately renovating their houses: They’re likely to toss these screen doors out without hesitation — ask them if you can have them before they go in the dumpster.

Does anyone else have a screen door with an initial in it?
Can we make a full alphabet?
I have a “K” — on a shelf for decor, not on a screen door.


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  1. says

    Nice job, it looks great. Over the years I’ve been looking I’ve found three different type faces used for these letters. The P shown here is the one I see the most. There’s another variety with a very modern style, and the one I’ve seen the least reminds me of the comic sans typeface. Google image search “screen door letter” and you can see the first two varieties. The third “comic sans” style I believe is more rare. We have that on our front door now, though I need to touch up the paint on the background. Here’s a photo:

  2. Bob Connor says

    Sounds like something like this could be a candidate for the 3D printing that I hear so much about. Hopefully, someone with a 3D printing facility will hear of this. I might know of one, I will see what I can find out.

      • Stephanie says

        I’m a librarian in NJ and many county and municipal libraries now have 3D printers but they typically can only print a type of recycled plastic called PLA or ABS. They’re designed to be used by students, hobbyists and/or designers who wish to print prototypes. If a more permanent type of material is needed, like metal, a professional maker studio would be more likely to have a printer capable of printing metal.

  3. Lynne says

    I think we still have the door grill with a P in our basement from the previous owners. We’re A so it didn’t work for us. Wish I’d known someone had been looking for years.

  4. Lana Brooks says

    If you google screen door inserts, you can find some companies that make them, or the entire door. They have birds, sunbursts, sailboats, dolphins, etc. No letters.

  5. Mike says

    I’ve been searching for a grille for several years. I have the “letter” off the door from the house I grew up in. I would love to find a grille for my home so I could put up my letter to honor my parents.

    If anyone has one for sale or know of one drop me a note at tuckerfan48 at g mail dot com


  6. Mike says

    Hi Lynne,

    Let me know if you would like to sell your grille and “P”. I need a grille and I have a close friend that has been searching for a ” P”.

    Email me at tuckerfan48 at g mail dot com

  7. carolynapplebee says

    now i want a door like that. we had an “N” on the front of my house growing up for yyears, there are a few folks in the neighborhood that still have their old doors.

  8. ineffablespace says

    Since my house was built as builder’s “interpretation” to some extent, of the architect’s design, the four houses of this design ended up with as many as eight screen doors of this type. Four pairs of off-the-shelf French doors paired with screen doors mounted French door style.

    Unfortunately they are very corroded to the point that the panels are brittle. And who knew a rat’s teeth were so strong? But that’s a different story.

    I will be replacing this at some point with what the architect designed instead of replacing what’s there but it’s nice to know that the doors are still available for right now

  9. la573 says

    It’s not hard to see why single-letter monogrammed doors fell out of fashion – my family like many others no longer all have the same surname. Beside the old custom of wives changing their name to their husband’s becoming less popular, many of us have stepkids, children from previous marriages, or other situations that result in the kids not all having the same last name as each other and I don’t want to play favorites with the screen-door letter.

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      Yes, you are right. Same with the name on the mailbox. In our blended family, we had five people sharing three surnames, and finally the mail carrier asked us to post a list of the names inside the mailbox door.

      When we visited Iceland, every family has at least three surnames, as children’s last names are patronymics. So the doors on most houses and apartments had little brass plates carved with the names of each resident, such as the husband Gisli Bjarnason, the wife Og Ingimarsdottir, and their children Kristin Gisladottir, Fridrik Gislason, and Jon Gislason. There are also blended families there as here, so there may be two other kids living there named Olafur Bryndisarson and Julia Bryndisardottir. This may be confusing to us, but to them it is the way things have always been.

      My point–you don’t see any of these screen door initials in Iceland. 🙂

    • Geoff says

      That’s true and that’s perfectly fine, family is more than just a name especially with blended families. For lots of folks this wouldn’t work, but for lots it also still does. We were just happy to share our story and bring a little slice of style back to life that had long been forgotten on our street. Even without the letter the grille is still an option by itself.

  10. ineffablespace says

    I also think screen doors have fallen out of favor in many parts of the country due to air conditioning and the popularity of the exposed wood door. There are maybe a handful of front screen doors for blocks around where I live.

  11. JaniceW says

    I have a W that’s waiting for me to move into my midcentury modest house (a week from today!) and find a door to put it on.

  12. Kristen says

    We are the 3rd owners of a 1956 ranch. Minnichs,Millers, then the Mathews. As soon as I saw the M on the front door screen I knew we were destined to be in the house.

  13. Joe Felice says

    But when they sell the house, what happens if the buyer’s last name doesn’t start with a ‘P’? LOL Actually, I do recall that from back in the day. The first time I saw it, I asked why the initial on the door didn’t match the owner’s name. When I found out, I never asked again after that. But why not change the letter?

    • Beth says

      If it were up to Geoff, we would never leave this house!! He’s put a lot of work in here! We’ve already discussed that if we ever do leave, all of our finds are coming with us…including the P:)!

    • Geoff says

      If someone has a letter that doesn’t match it’s a great thing to sell on eBay or donate to a place like ReStore. We’ve found some great items at our local ReStore and it’s always a bummer to see something that still has some use left in it thrown away or taken for scrap. Our diamond window came from ReStore for about 20 bucks and those go for as much as 200 new at some retailers!

  14. KayGee says

    This is wonderful!
    Yes, my house has a screen door similar to this with the letter “S” in the middle. The previous owners had painted it red. I didn’t change it even though my name doesn’t begin with “S.” My pet’s name does; I always knew the house belongs to her.

    • Geoff says

      I understand that, our house is the domain of a very little dog who is pretty sure she owns the place. P stands for pug as far as she’s concerned 🙂

  15. says

    My screen doors are from 1941 and wood with removable insert with glass for winter and a screen for summer. Personally I wouldn’t wait four years for a letter I’d just cut one out of metal and DIY it. I’m a metal worker so easier for me to hand saw one but it wouldn’t’ be difficult to find a laser cutter to cut one you wanted and in a more modern font to boot.

    • Beth says

      Nice idea, but we’re all about finding the original stuff! Sometimes it takes time, but these extra touches are totally worth it! The only thing modern in our house is probably our tv ha!!

      • Geoff says

        Yep we definitely could’ve found a new one on Etsy or made one, but the charm of the original font and texture just makes us smile. It’s fun to bring a little history back too.

        • pam kueber says

          Oh the vintage ones are around! I’ve been watching them off and on for 10 years. They’re out there — and yes, nothing quite compares with that vintage mill finish aluminum!

  16. lyndasewsalot says

    hi pam, would you consider organizing a letter exchange program? because I have an “N”. And I need an “F”!

  17. Jason says

    I too have a hollow core veneer front door original to 1956, when it’s replaced it will be solid wood, but built to match the 3 window style it is. That’s why it’s still there, I love it too much – although hollow exterior door is odd to me.

    I like these doors too, although I also like glass for the protection. I wish I had thought to get the grill and letter at least from my Mommom’s house – she had one on the front porch. My other Mommom in her 1955 house, not the one she’s in now – she had the full jalousie window storm doors – heavy as all get out!

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