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
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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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- When you reach the end just cut the spline to the proper length and seat it right into the corner.
- 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.