How to Install a New Screen in an Old Screen Door

If your old screen door has seen better days and the screen is torn, you don't have to tape the tears to keep the mosquitoes out.

Replace a torn screen to keep bugs out of your kitchen.Replace a torn screen to keep bugs out of your kitchen.
Whether your door is wood or metal, replacing the screen is something you can do without much fuss. There are two systems for holding the screen to the door frame. One uses staples and the other uses rubber splines. If you are working with rubber splines, you'll need an inexpensive tool for forcing the splines into the grooves around the frame. You'll probably find fiberglass screen easier to work with than aluminum.

Unscrew the door hinges from the frame, using a Phillips screwdriver. Take the door down and lay it on a flat surface with the screen facing up.

Pry off any trim around the screen with a claw hammer. Pull the nails out of the trim and discard them. If the screen is held by staples, pry out them out with a slot screwdriver, discard them and remove the old screen. If the screen is held by a rubber spline, work out the end of the spline with a slot screwdriver, then pull it out and remove the screen.

Unroll a length of fiberglass screen from a new roll long enough to cover the opening with a 1-inch overlap on either end. Cut it from the roll, using a straight edge and a utility knife.

Align the screen with the top edge of the opening so there is a 1-inch overlap. Pull it over to one side so there is the same 1-inch overlap on the other side of the opening. Adjust it square with the top and side of the opening.

Drive two or three staples into the top with a staple gun if you are stapling the screen to the frame. If you are using splines, force one end of the spline into the top corner with a slot screwdriver and roll a splining roller along the top groove to force the spline into the groove to hold the screen. In the same way, staple or spline the screen to the side of the opening on which the screen overlaps by an inch.

Pull the corner of the screen opposite the one where you started. When the screen is tight, drive staples or insert splines along the bottom, then staple or spline along the remaining side of the opening. If you are stapling, drive more staples around the entire opening at 2- to 3-inch intervals.

Trim the edges of the screen with a sharp utility knife so they will be hidden by the trim. Replace the trim with new 6d finish nails. Hang the door by screwing the hinges back to the door frame.

Things You Will Need

  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Claw hammer
  • Slot screwdriver
  • Fiberglass screen
  • Straight edge
  • Utility knife
  • Staple gun
  • Rubber spline
  • Splining roller
  • 6d finish nails

Tip

  • If you are using spline, it will draw the screen tight as you work it into the grooves. If you are using staples, though, you'll have to pull the screen tight yourself.

About the Author

Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.