Screen Door or Window Screen Repair: Frugal Fix

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in Frugal Fix,How To...

With a small amount of effort and money you can easily repair your own door and window screens or give them a full tune-up. This is a really simple process that most anyone can accomplish with great results. Further if you live in an older dwelling like myself it’s often hard to find replacement sliders that will work well with your older doors so this might be your only real option. Come along and we’ll go through step by step on reconditioning your screens.

Time Commitment: 10 minutes to an hour
Handiness Skill Level: Beginner
Potential Savings: $10-100
Materials: Damaged Screen, Replacement Screen Material, Replacement Spline, Knife, Spline Roller or Paint Stick, Scissors
Optional Materials: Replacement Rollers, Replacement Hardware, Pet Resistant Screen, Window Screen Frame Kit

This is part of the FiscalGeek Frugal Fix Series be sure to check back often for more money saving fixes or why not subscribe to the RSS feed or through Email? You might also enjoy our article on Saving Your Cell Phone from Water Damage that was recently featured on msn.com.

Assemble Window or Door Screen Repair Materials

Most of the large home improvement warehouses carry all of the components necessary for fixing your own doors or window screens and as an added bonus it’s relatively inexpensive you can also order online with e-tailers like Amazon Window Screen Materials. I was able to fully recondition my sliding screen door including new rollers for $18 leaving a fair amount of material left over to repair an additional 5 or 6 windows all from my local Home Depot. Our screens seem to have a special attractant to lure dogs and small boys so having the materials on hand for future repairs is a big bonus.

Window and Door Screen Materials

Window and Door Screen Materials

Door and Window Screen Material

You have a variety of choices with respect to the replacement of your screen material including color and material. You can choose from really inexpensive fiberglass, aluminum or even some special screen that’s reinforced to stand up to your pets abuse. My dogs keen eyesight is rendered useless on all of our screen doors, collisions are almost a daily occurrence. Your choice is up to you and your budget they should all really work fine. I’ve used the inexpensive fiberglass with great success. Choose a size that will allow you to overlap the frame an inch or two, and it might make sense to get a larger roll for future repairs.

Screen Spline

Spline is the material used to hold the screen in the window or door frame, it’s got about 8-10 grooves around it and needs to be sized appropriately for the slot on your door or window. Use a screwdriver or knife to pry out the existing spline from your damaged frame and cut a piece off to take with you when purchasing materials to be sure you’ve got the right size. You should also be sure to get a spline roller a tool that has 2 rollers on each end and will make the installation of the spline so much easier. You can use something like a paint stick sanded down to push the spline into the slot as well, but for about 3 dollars you can just buy the tool. So buy the tool already.

Optional Screen Materials

If you are reconditioning a door screen and it’s not exactly gliding in the tracks you might be able to find a variety of upgrade components again at your local home improvement warehouse. I was able to locate the exact roller style to replace my damaged hardware. It rolls like it’s brand new now. You’ll want to disassemble these items and bring them with you on your shopping trip as there is likely to be a dizzying array of choices.

If you are repairing a window screen and the frame is damaged, bent or just needs updating you can actually purchase the materials to make your own frame as well. They come in kit form or in raw materials. You’ll just need to use a hacksaw or miter box fitted with a blade to cut non-ferrous materials to size. The instructions provided with the kits should get you underway with little fuss.

The Repair

Okay assuming you’ve assembled all of your materials it’s time to find a nice work area. My garage floor is nice and smooth and spacious and made a good work surface, it is a bit hard on the knees though.

  1. If you did not remove the spline previously use a screwdriver or knife to pull up the end of the old spline and then just pull it out and remove the old screen material.
  2. Lay out the replacement screen over the frame extending on all edges at least an inch and cut to size. When you seat the spline in the groove it will pull more screen material into the slot so it’s good to have extra space. You can easily cut the screen material with scissors or a sharp knife. I use an Xacto knife with a straight edge.
  3. Pick a corner and start pushing in the new spline in the slot. To get it started it is easiest to use something like a putty knife or paint stick sized for the slot to seat the spline in place.
  4. Use the spline roller to work your way around the frame and seat the new screen in the slot. Take your time and keep the screen aligned correctly as you work around. You’ll want to use the same method you used to seat the spline in step 3 on the corners as the spline roller won’t be able to get in there all the way. Don’t worry too much about pulling the screen tight on the opposite side as the spline roller will suck in the excess screen and make it nice and taught. You can always pull it back out and try again until you get it just the way you want it.
  5. When you reach the end just cut the spline to the proper length and seat it right into the corner.
  6. Now just carefully trim the excess screen material right next to the spline with your sharp knife and you have a finished window or door screen.  Reassemble any hardware you may have removed and put it back into place and marvel at all the money you saved.



1. Remove Spline1. Pull Out SplineSeat the ScreenSeat the Screen with the Spline ToolCut the Screen Along the Spline

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy 2009/07/14 at 7:54 am

Can you tell me where to purchase the sliding screen door “rollers” ?? Love your website and your emails! Joy

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garye 2009/11/13 at 1:15 pm

Great info, after our first brush with a hurricaine I paid someone to replace several panels – at $50 a panel. So when it came time to do several more I figured I better try myself or I would go broke. Following steps just like yours above I discovered it was a pretty easy job and I felt great when I was done.

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paul 2009/11/18 at 4:35 pm

Thanks Gary much appreciated.

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Tony W. 2010/04/26 at 6:52 am

I need to figure out how much screening material is needed for the following dimensions:

Length Width Quantity
12 15 4
39 32 1
39 24 2
63 36 9
63 24 6
74 24 2
74 36 1
78 24 2
78 36 3
79 28 12

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gary's home repair q? 2010/04/26 at 7:04 am

Paul I have sucessfuly replaced several panels (thanks in part to your tips) but now I have some more to do. And unforunately these two are on the top of the enclosure. In the past I contracted a man who had no problem walking around on the frame but I am afraid I am not so nimble (or brave). Any tips on handling the overhead panels without calling in a pro? thanks in advance…

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Fisher 2013/04/17 at 3:26 am

Hi guy,

Glad to hear that you’re on the market for door and windows screen items.

This is fisher from Hebei textiles import and export co., LTD in china.We specialized in door and windows screen for 10 years,and hope to find a way to cooperate with you!

If any questions, please contact me freely! Thank you!

Looking forward to your early reply!

Thanks and best regards.

Fisher

Reply

Paul Van Lierop 2009/07/14 at 7:56 am

Joy,

So glad you like my site, be sure to tell your friends. As to your question about the rollers I purchased mine from Home Depot. They are in the hardware section usually in the aisle that has things like mailboxes, door knobs, drawer pulls. At least my home depot has a whole section that has replacement parts for things like screen doors, bi-fold doors and the like. Hope that helps.

I also found this site online if you can’t get them at Home depot: http://www.doorandwindowparts.com/index.php/cPath/1

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