How to Repair a Screen Door

It’s easier than you might think to replace the screen mesh…you just need a few easy to find tools to help you do it right.

What to Buy

Screen mesh

The replacement fiberglass screen should be big enough to cover the door and overlap the top, bottom and sides of the door frame by a minimum of 2 inches.


Rather than use the old spline, buy a new roll. While the old may look fine it could be weathered in spots. Besides, it’s cheap enough to go ahead and buy new, but be sure you buy the same size diameter as what you’ve removed.

Spline tool

A spline tool looks like a pizza cutter with a blade on both sides of the handle.

This very handy tool makes replacing the screen so much easier than without it.

Look closely at the rollers on the spline tool and you’ll see that there’s a difference between them. One roller is convex in appearance while the other is concave.

The convex roller is used first. It’s made to push the screen into the grooves on the frame of the screen door. The concave side is then used to lock the screen into place by pushing the spline into the door frame’s grooves on top of the screen.

Remove the existing screen

Lift the screen door up until the rollers clear the track. Next, pull the bottom of the screen door down and out towards you until the top clears the frame.

Take off the handle

Set the door on a large bench or across some sawhorses. Unscrew and then remove the door handle to ensure easy access to the spline.

Install the new screen

After removing the old spline and screen, you’re ready to put in the new one. Here’s how:

Lay the new replacement screen over the doorframe, centering it to make sure it hangs over each side equally. Then, using one of the long edges, line up the screen to make sure it’s square with the frame.

Push the screen into the doorframe

Using the convex side of the roller, start gently pushing the screen into the grooves on the door starting at one corner. If the screen pops back out push it in again until it stays in place.

Note that you’ll switch back and forth; installing first the screen, then the spline on one side at a time.

Install the spline

Rather than work from the entire roll of spline, cut off four pieces, one for each side of the door frame.

Starting on one long side of the door, flip the spline tool over and use the concave side to press the spline into the groove. This will lock the screen into place.

Use gentle pressure, angling the tool towards the outside of the frame to prevent tearing the screen.

Pull the screen tight

Now that you’ve secured one side it’s time to work on the opposite side.

Pull the screen towards you until it’s smooth and flat, without wrinkles. Next, use the convex side of the roller to press the screen into the groove, followed by the spline, just like last time.

Then, repeat the same process for the top and bottom of the door.

Trim the excess

Using a sharp utility knife, carefully remove the excess screen, being careful not to slip and tear your newly installed screen.

Install the door

Replace your newly repaired door. Slip the top of the door into the frame first, then lower it onto the bottom track.

Check to make sure it moves easily. If it catches, make any adjustments to the wheels until you’re satisfied with the results.

Other options

If the tears aren’t big enough to warrant replacing the entire screen it’s fast and easy to make repairs using a screen patch kit.

Methods for repairing tears in your screen door include:

Clear nail polish

Apply to a small tear or hole in a fiberglass or vinyl screen. The nail polish works as an adhesive, sealing the damage and preventing it from getting worse.

Silicone adhesive

Clear silicone adhesive can be applied to fiberglass or metal screens. Simply apply a small amount, layer upon layer until the tear has been filled completely.

If the holes are large, cover them by using the glue to attach one or more pieces of screen to the undamaged areas near the hole(s).

Darning the holes

Metal screening can be darned with a sewing needle.

Unravel one or two strands from an old piece of screen, thread the needle and sew up the hole, weaving the thread back and forth through parts of the screen that are undamaged.

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