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Repair Ripped Window and Door Screens

by Benjamin Roussey


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Do-It-Yourself Screen Repair

Inexpensive Screen Repair

Spring is just around the corner, and as welcome as it is after a dreary winter, some preparation may be needed before you can usher in the season. The longer days and warmer nights may make you want to keep your windows and doors open for as long as possible to make the best possible use of natural ventilation. However, before you do this, make sure there are no rips or holes in your window and door screens which can let the bugs in. If there is any such damage, you can repair it with some basic tools and a little bit of spare time.

Tools and Materials

All the materials required for this type of simple do-it-yourself project will be available at your local hardware store. A knife, scissors, thread, replacement screen, and the spline are the most important components. The spline is the rubber gasket that keeps the screen attached to the door or window frame. This might not have to be replaced in all cases of screen damage. If you do need a replacement spline, make sure that the size is the right one for your door or window.

The best way to do this is by extracting the damaged spline out of the frame and taking it along with you to the hardware store and getting a new one of the same size. A spline roller is also something that might come in handy if the spline has to be changed.

Assess the Damage

Check the screen to determine what kind of problem you are dealing with. Small rips and tears can be mended easily by sewing them up with a needle and thread. If there is a big hole, then you can cut a circle around the damage and remove that part of the screen. Once this is done, you can put in a new piece of screen that is a little bigger than the one you cut out and sew it up. If it appears that the entire screen needs to be replaced, then that is what you will have to do.

Starting Off

The first thing that you need is some space that can be designated as your work area. Then, you will need to remove the door and place it on a flat surface so that it is easier to work on it. Screen doors can be hinged or sliding, so depending on the type you have in your home, the removal methods will also vary. Once you get the door on your work space, the first step is to remove the spline, which may be of rubber or vinyl, slowly and carefully from the door siding. If the spline has been damaged in any way you will need to replace it first. If it has not, you can proceed to the screen issue straightaway.

Replacing a Screen

Remove the old screen material from the spline and cut out the new one such that it extends at least one inch on all sides of the frame. A sharp knife or scissors can be used to cut out the required amount of screen. Then lay out the new screen on the frame and start pushing in the spline from a corner. You can use a small stick or a putty knife to do this. If you have a spline roller, then you can use this to affix the new screen into the slot along with the spline.

It is not that difficult. With a little commitment and concentration, you can accomplish this task.

Make sure that the screen is aligned in the right way. Once you are done affixing the entire length of the screen, cut off the spline and push it tightly into the corner. Later, you can trim the excess screen, which is jutting out from the spline. Do this with a sharp knife, so the edges look neat and even all around. Once you have this done to your satisfaction, you can affix the door back and pat your back for a job well done!

Some Useful Tricks

A trick the pros use is to ensure that the screen remains taut is to slightly bend the door at the center before putting in the new screen. One way of doing this is to attach clamps to the two longer sides of the frame and hang weights from them. You need to probably do this in your garage and you will have to have some way to hang the door from your ceiling.

The weights will result in the door bending down a little bit in the middle. Then, install the new screen as outlined above (you will need a ladder to accomplish this because remember the screen door is hanging from the ceiling). After you finish affixing the screen in place, remove the weights slowly. The frame will return to its normal shape and the screen will be perfectly tight. Another trick is to place a heavy object such as a brick in the center of the screen after you have fixed it on two adjoining sides to ensure that the slack is just right.

No Big Problem

So the next time your screen door is ripped or torn by children or pets at play or even an overzealous adult who is sweeping, vacuuming, raking or digging, you can breathe easy and not worry about having to spend a hefty sum for having it fixed.


Benjamin Roussey is from Sacramento, CA, and grew up doing all varieties of home improvement projects around the home since his parents did not hire contractors or outside help to maintain their home or vehicles. As a result, he has acquired a multitude of home handyman skills in plumbing, carpentry, electrical and everything in between. He also has two Masters degrees and he served four years in the U.S. Navy.

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