Window or Door Screen Repair

Screens with holes won’t keep bugs out, but you can easily fix many holes and tears. This Fix-It Guide on window or door screen repair tells how a window or door screen works, what often goes wrong, how to identify a window or door screen problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives step-by-step instructions for how to repair a tear in a screen, how to replace a screen in a metal frame, and how to replace a screen in a wood frame. This information can be used for screen door repair, window screen repair, skylight screen repair, and others.

How Does a Window or Door Screen Work?

A screen is a woven mesh stretched and attached to a frame at a window or door opening to keep pests out of the house and small children and household pets in the house. The most common screening materials are vinyl-coated fiberglass and aluminum. Aluminum screens are less likely to tear or sag, but they dent easily and may corrode. Fiberglass won’t dent or corrode, is less expensive than aluminum, and is available in a variety of mesh types, including very fine solar-screening mesh that reduces ultraviolet radiation.

What Can Go Wrong with a Window or Door Screen?

Screen fabric can tear and sometimes develop holes. Fabric can pull away from the screen frame.

How Can I Identify a Window or Door Screen Problem?

  • If a screen has a small tear or hole in it, you can repair it (see below).
  • If a screen pulls away from its frame, you can reattach it (see below).
  • If a screen suffers more than minor damage, you can replace it (see below). If you have animals that scratch on screens, consider using pet screening.

What Do I Need for Window or Door Screen Repair?

Replacement parts for door and window screens are available from local hardware and building supply stores and from window shops. The tools you will need to fix screens include these:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Cotton swabs
  • Toothpicks
  • Nylon fishing line
  • Model cement
  • Scissors or tin snips
  • Spline roller
  • Pliers
  • Adhesive
  • Duct tape or other tape
  • Paint
  • Putty knife

Fix-It Tip

If you are fixing one screen today, chances are you’ll be fixing another one soon. Consider buying an entire roll of screening. It’s less expensive by the roll and you’ll have matching screening for future repairs.

What Are the Steps to Window or Door Screen Repair?

Repair a small tear in a screen:

Fix-It Tip

You can repair tears and holes in screens, but it is nearly as easy and inexpensive to replace the screen.

  1. Use pliers and other tools to bend the torn strands of screen fabric back to their original positions.
  2. Apply model cement to the tear, spreading the cement with a cotton swab.
  3. Use a toothpick to open as many holes as possible before they seal over with cement.

Repair a larger tear in a screen:

  1. Cut a patch of similar screening (aluminum, plastic, or fiberglass) to overlap the damaged area by ¼ inch.
  2. Place the patch over the hole so that the ends of the strands fit into the mesh on the screening.
  3. Attach the patch using a small sewing needle and nylon fishing line or an appropriate adhesive (see the adhesives section of the Stationary Things Fix-It Guide) to secure the patch.
  4. Finish dressing the patch using a toothpick or other tool to align fibers and/or remove excess glue.
Window or Door Screen Repair

Lay the screen material in place over the groove.

Replace a screen in a metal frame:

  1. Place the screen face down on a work surface.
  2. Use a straight screwdriver or other pointed object to remove the spline that holds the screen in place in the frame groove.
  3. Cut fiberglass screen with scissors and aluminum screen with heavy-duty shears or tin snips as needed, making sure that the replacement is at least 1 inch larger than the screen opening.
  4. Stretch the new screen evenly over the opening and use duct or other tape to temporarily hold it in place.
  5. Window or Door Screen Repair

    Press the spline into the groove to hold the screen edge in place.

    Starting in a corner, press the spline into the groove with the blade of a spline roller or a straight screwdriver.

  6. Continue pressing the spline into place around the perimeter of the screen.
  7. Trim the end of the spline as needed.
  8. Trim the edge of the fabric as needed.

Replace a screen in a wood frame:

  1. Carefully pry off the molding with a putty knife.
  2. Remove the old screen and all staples or tacks, repairing the frame as needed (see the Wood Furniture Fix-It Guide).
  3. Cut new screen 4 inches wider and 8 inches longer than the opening.
  4. Double the fabric at one edge and staple it to the frame.
  5. Stretch the fabric across the opening, doubling the fabric at the edges and stapling them in place. Trim off excess fabric.
  6. Reinstall the frame molding, then paint as needed (see the Paint Fix-It Guide).