Got Doggy Damage? Here's How to Fix a Screen Door

by James Fitzgerald
A residential screen door with a tear due to a dog

Between the weather, pets and kids, holes and tears are bound to emerge in your screen door. Aside from their unsightly nature, these damaged sections allow flies, mosquitos and other pests to enter your home.

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While you may be able to repair small holes that are a few inches in diameter with screen patch kits or screen repair tape, these products won’t be able to tackle more substantial damage. Plus, even small patches leave behind ugly blemishes in the screen. Fortunately, replacing the screen on your door is a quick, simple and inexpensive task.

Read on to learn how to fix a screen door in six easy steps.

Before You Begin

Screen Material

The first step in repairing your screen door is choosing the screen material you’re going to be replacing the damaged screen with. Options include:


Fiberglass screens are the most affordable and easiest to work with, but they’re also the least durable and most likely to tear again in the future.


Aluminum is a sturdier material than fiberglass, but it’s more expensive and one of the harder materials to work with.


Designated “pet-proof” screens are the most durable material designed to withstand the wear and tear from dogs and cats. Pet-proof screens are easier to work with than aluminum, but they’re also the most expensive choice.

Screen Size

Screen material is readily available in pre-measured rolls to accommodate the common screen door sizes. Measure the width and height of your door and purchase a roll that’s at least 2 inches taller and wider than your door. For example, if your door is 36 inches by 80 inches, purchase a roll that’s at least 38 inches by 82 inches.

You will also need a roll of screen spline (round, rubber tubing that holds the screen to the door frame) and a spline roller (the tool used to press the spline into the frame that looks like a two-sided pizza cutter). Full screen repair kits are also commonly available. They include the screen, spline and roller in a single package.

How to Fix a Screen Door

Things You’ll Need

  • Screen
  • Screen spline
  • Spline roller
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Work surface
  • Pliers (optional)
  • Tape or spring clamps (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Remove the Door and Handle

There are two main types of patio doors: hinged and sliding. Hinged doors swing open and closed on a set of hinges secured to the side of the frame. If you’re repairing a hinged door, use a screwdriver to remove the screws holding the hinges to the frame.

Sliding doors are equipped with rollers on the bottom corners of the frame that allow them to slide along tracks on the door sill. To remove them, pull up on one corner of the frame to expose the roller on that side. Slide a flat-head screwdriver under the roller, press up on it until it’s off the track and pull the bottom corner of the frame towards you until the roller clears the track. Repeat on the other side and pull the door free.

Place the door on a solid, flat work surface (like a work table or saw horses) with the side where the spline is exposed facing up. Remove the handle on that side of the door by taking out the screws holding it in place.

Step 2: Remove the Old Spline and Screen

Starting at one of the corners of the frame, use a flat-head screwdriver to pry out a small section of spline. Grab the spline with your hand or a pair of pliers and pull out the spline along the entire length of that side. Repeat on all four sides until all the old spline is removed, then pull out the old screen.

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Step 3: Unroll the New Screen

Roll out the new screen material across the length of the door frame. Use a pair of scissors to cut the screen to length so that an inch or two of material overhangs the top and bottom of the frame. Center the screen onto the sides of the frame so it’s overlapping evenly on both sides.

Step 4: Install the Spline

Starting at the corner on one side of the frame, press the spline into the groove with a flat-head screwdriver. With the concave end of the spline roller, begin pressing the spline into the groove using a back-and-forth motion until the spline is fully seated. If any wrinkles or bulges form in the spline or screen, remove the affected section of spline and reinstall it after making the necessary adjustments. Continue down the length of that side until you reach the opposite corner, then cut the spline to length with scissors or a utility knife. Finally, press the end of the spline into the corner of the frame with your flat-head screwdriver.

Repeat this process on the opposite side of the frame. As you work down that side, lightly pull on the screen material in front of you to keep the screen taut across the frame. Alternatively, you can hold the screen in place with tape or spring clamps while you apply the spline. Finish up by installing the spline on the top and bottom of the frame using the same procedure.

Step 5: Trim the Screen

Insert a utility knife into the groove along the top of the spline and slowly cut away the excess screen around the entire perimeter of the frame. Use a new, sharp blade to ensure a clean cut, and be careful not to cut into the screen inside the frame.

Step 6: Reinstall the Door

Reinstall the door using the reverse process you took to remove it.

Now all that’s left is to enjoy the enhanced appearance and pest-free airflow offered by your repaired screen door.