How to Install Screen Doors

Screen Door

Screen doors serve multiple purposes. They let in fresh air on cool days, allowing you to save money on air conditioning costs. Screen doors also open your home to the outside world, where sights and sounds from the neighborhood can make for pleasant background entertainment. Finally, these handy doors keep out pests, which in many areas of the country can be the difference between healthy skin and an itchy mess.

Choosing the Right Type of Screen Door
A hinged screen door works just as a regular entry door does, except it attaches to the exterior doorframe and opens out of instead of into your home. When planning to purchase this type of screen door, measure not only the exterior door frame, but also the area it will swing open, as there must be enough room to open the door fully. Hinged screen doors also offer the option of opening to the left or right, which allows you to customize the door to your patio or porch layout.

Sliding screen doors pair with sliding glass doors, running along tracks on the top and bottom exterior of the doorframe. Retractable versions resemble window treatments more than actual doors. They lower or raise or open to the left or right. When not in use, they tuck neatly into their housing.

No matter which type of screen door you choose for your home, additional options exist for customization. For example, pulls for hinged and sliding doors come in a variety of decorative options, and the screen itself comes in different colors and shades. However, the most important factor you must consider involves craftsmanship. Choose a door that feels solid and, especially in the case of sliding doors, opens and closes smoothly.

Repairing Existing Screen Doors
If you have a screen door that has seen better days, but does not yet require total replacement, repair it to extend its life.

To repair the screen on any type of door, you will need to remove the screen door from its frame or track and disassemble it. Then, you must purchase a new screen, spline (the rubber tubing that locks the screen in place) and spline-installation tool. Disassembling the door before going to the store allows you to bring the screen and spline with you and ensure replacement parts match. You also may need additional items, such as an awl, if you don't already have one in your toolbox. Consider replacing the wheels and any other aging parts on the door as well, since you will already have the door disassembled.

Replacing Existing Screen Doors
If you have a screen door beyond repair, replacement proves necessary. Getting the right replacement screen door involves removing it and taking it with you shopping. If the door proves to be too large for your vehicle, measure it and snap a photo. Take the door/measurements and the photo to a local home improvement store that sells screen doors or look online for the manufacturer's website; the manufacturer typically stamps its name on the pull of the door.
Whether installing a screen door where none existed before or repairing or replacing a damaged one, many homeowners put this task on their professional handyman's to-do list. As noted, repair requires time and special tools you might not already own, and getting a tight fit on a replacement screen proves tricky for first-timers. Installation of a new door or a replacement takes time and skill as well. Consider bundling this task with others around the house for a productive appointment