Easy, Breezy Tips on Replacing a Patio Door Screen

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Photo courtesy: All About Screen Doors

I don’t mind the squirrels taking their turn at the bird feeder, but our dog seems to have developed a personal vendetta against the creatures. She’s so vehemently opposed to squirrels that she managed to rip right through the mesh screen on the patio door, leaving a large gaping hole in the bottom third.

Not only was this hole unsightly, but the warmer weather means that mosquitoes, flies, and gnats are active. Replacing the screen quickly moved to the top of the priority list.

Related: 10 New Ways to Use Old Doors

The first step was removing the screen door from the frame. Since the entire door slides on flexible rollers, I lifted the frame up until the bottom edge of the rollers could clear the lip, then tilted the door out from the bottom.

The next stop was the hardware store, where I found a somewhat daunting array of materials and supplies. There are basically two types of replacement screen material—wire and fiberglass. Both are sold in rolls and offered in either black, white, or charcoal shades.

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The key materials and tools, including screening, spline and spline roller. Photo courtesy: Real Simple

There are also a couple of specialty fabrications, including wire mesh with smaller holes designed to block out “no-see-ums” and a heavier-duty fiberglass “pet” option. Although our old screen was wire, I decided to try the pet-friendly fiberglass. The standard patio-door-size roll measures 36×84″, although both larger and smaller rolls are available.

The next choice was in screen spline, flexible tubing that holds the screen in place. Sold in rolls and available in different widths and two colors, the spline inserts between the screen mesh and a narrow groove along the edge of the door frame. I chose the narrowest gauge, because the pet mesh was a thicker screen and I wanted to make sure that it would fit securely in the existing groove.

Before I began work, there was one more specialized tool that I needed—a spline roller, the tool I would use to fit the spline into the groove of the door. For a small job or single use, the plastic version is fine; if you have multiple door and window screens to replace, you may want to purchase the wooden tool.

Related: Know Your Door Styles: 10 Popular Designs

Armed with my materials, I headed home and assembled a few more tools, including a skinny regular screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, regular pliers, and a utility knife with a fresh blade.

I inserted the tip of the screwdriver in one corner of the door frame and pried out the old spline material with the pliers, being careful not to bend the metal edges of the groove. Once I had removed the old spline and the ripped screen, I thoroughly cleaned the door frame. Then I unrolled the new fiberglass screen onto the door, making sure to overlap all of the edges.

Starting at one corner, I used the concave end of the spline roller to gently push the spline and screen into the metal groove. Before I’d gone too far though, I realized the mesh wasn’t going in evenly. So I carefully pulled out the spline and screen, re-seated the screen on the frame, and tried again. This time I put lightweight clamps on the corners to hold the screen in place and placed my free hand firmly on the frame to keep the mesh from shifting.

Once I had the spline and screen in place on all four sides, I used the convex end of the spline roller to firmly push everything into place and, using the utility knife, I trimmed the excess screen material. I replaced the screen door on the frame and sat down with a cool iced tea to enjoy the fresh spring breezes.

For more on doors and windows, consider:

Replacing a Window Screen
How To: Install a New Door
Porch Railing and Screen Door Installation (VIDEO)