Patio screen door fix up

Nine simple steps for keeping the bugs out

By Allan Britnell

screen door

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What do dogs, running children and sharp-edged serving trays have in common? They can all poke holes through patio screen doors. Luckily, you can repair the damage yourself in less than an hour. An added bonus is that the steps shown here also apply to windows.

The first thing you need to do is assess the damage. If it’s just a small hole, you can make a simple repair with a dab of clear silicone caulking. If it’s a major tear, you need to take the door out of its track and replace the mesh.

The existing screening will be fiberglass or aluminum. Either way, you should use up fiberglass screening for the replacement it’s easier to work with and it doesn’t go brittle with age.

On the other hand, if you’re repairing a tear made by your pet Fido or Fluffy, there’s one other alternative to consider: vinyl-coated polyester often sold under names such as “pet screen” is a thicker, more durable alternative to fiberglass, although it costs more than twice as much.

There are two other items you’ll need to pick up: the black rubber strip-called “spline” that holds the screen in the frame, and a roller tool to push it into place. Note that the spline for doors is thicker (0.18″/4.6 mm) than that for windows (0.16″/4.1 mm). Your local hardware store should stock everything you need, sold either individually or as a kit.

The first step is to remove the old screen. Use an awl or a nail to pry up the spline. Once the spline is removed, the screen will come off.

Lay the new screen out over the frame, ensuring there are at least a couple of inches of overlap all the way around. Starting in one corner, push the spline into the groove with a screwdriver. Then, using the roller tool in a back and forth motion, press the spline into place all the way around the perimeter. (You’ll notice there are two ends on the tool. Use the concave end to push the spline into place. The other end is for pre-creasing aluminum screen.)

As you’re working your way around, keep in mind that you want the screen to be taut, but not so much so that it bows the frame. Also make sure you don’t let the screen bunch up and overlap. A 45° cut in the corners will help prevent this. Most important, take your time to do it right.

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