Inevitably when the spring weather hits, we start to prepare our outdoor areas for all the outdoor living we like to do. There are many things that often need to be fixed or refreshed after a long winter. One of those things is fixing or replacing window screens and door screens. This is something that homeowners will eventually come across. Screen doors and window screens can get damaged in many ways. Replacing an old screen is super easy and I want to show you how to do it in a couple easy steps.
Our screen door this spring was in dire need of a replacement, as you can see in the image below, I used tape as a bandaid for a couple days until my supplies arrived. Its not pretty but it worked temporarily.
We use a large sliding screen door on our back french doors. We have two dogs and after a couple or years of use, the screen will need to be replaced. The screen can get sun rot, or torn easily. The good news is it can easily be replaced! Learning how to replace window screen is a valuable skill to know how to do. The material and tools only cost about 10 dollars which is a steal compared to purchasing new ones. This is a simple DIY project that you can tackle.
I have become an expert at replacing our old screens. There are many different options on the market including window screen replacement kits, which provide you all the tools and materials you need to replace a window or door screen. You can also purchase the items separate, so if you just need the screening material you can simple get that.
Here are some terms and elements of a screen door or window that you should be familiar with:
- spline – spline is the component used to hold screen in screen frame. Pairing the correct spline, screen and frame will ensure your screens go in easily and remain in place for years to come.
- spline roller or spline tool – A screen roller or spline roller is a small hand tool used to press screen mesh into the edges of a window frame that is fluted on the inner edges, or to press in the retainer spline that holds that mesh in place
- screen material or screen fabric – The most common materials used for the mesh of window screens are aluminum and fiberglass fabric. Aluminum is generally available in natural aluminum or in an applied black or charcoal color, which make the screening less visible.
- window screen frame– This is the frame that you will be installing the screen material. They are often made of aluminum or wood.
- channel of the frame– This is the place that you will install the spline over the screen to secure the screen to the frame. You can also call it a spline groove.
The right tools and materials you will need to replace a window or door screen are:
- spline tool
- new screen material (make sure to check the measurement of your screen door/window and get the correct size screen material)
- flat-head screwdriver or philips head screwdriver
- X-acto knife or sharp utility knife
I was able to get all the tools and materials I needed at my local hardware store.
I will be showing you to replace screen on a door today. Our patio screen door gets a lot of use during the summer months. This year it was in dire need of a replacement screen. It had small tears in the screen and needed new window screen spline. I have done this before and feel like this is a valuable skill to have.
When replacing your window or door screen make sure to take inventory of the condition of the rubber spline, the frame channels, and make sure that the frame is in good shape. If your screen frame is in good shape its is time to replace the old worn out screen.
WATCH THIS VIDEO TO SEE HOW EASY IT IS TO REPLACE A WINDOW SCREEN OR DOOR SCREEN
4 EASY STEPS TO REPLACE A WINDOW SCREEN OR DOOR
1. First, you need to remove the old screen and spline. Find a flat surface where you can work on your screen. I laid my screen door directly on the ground where I could work on it.
Removing the spline is simple. Locate the spline channel and with a narrow tool, grab hold of the spline and pull it out of the channel. I like to use a small flat-head screwdriver. Taking out the spline will release the window screening.
If you are replacing the screen on a screen door, you can remove the door handle as well. Mine comes off with a screw driver. The screen is sandwiched in between the handle.
2. Now its time to unroll the aluminum screening and lay it over the door or window. If it is a large piece of screen you can cut off the excess material now making sure to leave about 1-2 extra inches(this will also me removed at the end but you need a bit to work with. You can also wait until you have the new screen installed before cutting off the excess.
3. Once you have the screen laying flat over the frame, you will want to start installing the new spline
The method that I use is to work the top of the frame, then the bottom of the frame and then from the left to the right.
On the top, hold the spline above the channel and begin by pushing the spline into the corner with your hand to get it started. Make sure the screen is smooth and straight. Use your spline roller tool to roll and push the spline and screen into frame channel.
Stop and adjust the screen as needed to make sure that it is going in straight and without any wrinkles. At the end of the channel at the top, use your sharp utility knife to cut the spline just short of the corner.
Next, do the exact same thing to the bottom BUT you will need to make sure to hold the screen taut. This is where you create that tension on the screen that will give it a tight and smooth finish that you want. If you feel it is not tight enough, pull the spline out and do it again, pulling the screen down from the top to give it a nice tight fit.
Now, start on the sides. You can start on either side. Start at the corner and work the spline into the channel, making sure to use tension and pull the screen as you roll the spline into place. You will be able to tell if the screen is tight enough. If there are any ripples, you ca pull the spline out and try it again. When you reach the end, cut the spline and make sure to push the end of the spline into the channel using a screwdriver.
The last step is to finish the last side. This will give the entire screen a finished taut look and feel. Carefully pull the screen as you use your spline roller to push the spline into the channel. Be careful to not roll so hard that you cut or damage the screen. Do a small amount at t a time, stopping to make sure it is all straight and tight. Cut the spline and push it in the end once again. Ideally you want the spline to almost touch in the corners of the frame. You do not want them to overlap at all.
4. Before installing your screen, use your sharp utility knife or Xacto knife to trim excess screen material from the frame. This is easily done. Carefully run the knife along the channel groove and it will easily cut the window screen mesh away.
You now have a whole new screen! If your screen door has a handle, you can reinstall it at this time. After that it is time to install the screen door back into its channel on my french door. There are tension springs on the rollers on the top and bottom of our screen door. I insert the top of the screen door into the channel first and then use a butter knife to push the rollers up and over into the channel at the bottom.
And here is our screen door all ready for the summer months of use. I love how easy it is to replace the screens compared to many of the other big repair projects around the house, this one has got to be the easiest.
The screen door frame has seen a lot of use but I am not ready to replace it just yet, so we will use it a couple more years until its just too far gone. For under 15 dollars though, I was able to refresh it and give it new life for a couple more years.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I reuse old spline?
You can reuse old spline as long as it is in good condition and is not sun rot or turned hard. You want the spline to be soft and stretchy.
Are there different sizes of spine?
Yes, there are different diameters of spline, which vary depending on the size of the channel in your frame. Make sure to take a sample of your old spline to the hardware store. I have bought some that was barely too small and the screen door did not hold up well. You need the spline to give a bit of resistance when being installed into the channel. You want a tight fit. This is what will hold that screen in the frame.
Do I need a new frame?
You may need a new frame if the corners of the frame
are broken or separating or if the screen frame is damaged in any way. We have a couple dents in our screen door, but nothing we would consider replacing the door for.
Are the tools expensive?
No, they are very inexpensive tools, and you really only need the spline tool. The fiberglass screening is also inexpensive, as an entire screen for my door cost under 10 dollars.
Can you add a pet screen or dog door to a screen door?
Yes, I have seen special pet doors installed in screen doors. I have not used one but I really want to try one in my screen door.
What if my screen is loose and pulls out of the spline once installed?
This means that you have the wrong size spline. You most likely need a larger diameter spline. I got the wrong size once before and had this issue. Don’t be like me, double check and take a sample of your old spline to the store with you.
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