How I Saved $250 By Repairing My Own Screen
When I was getting ready to sell my condo in California, I was reminded multiple times that it needed to look as perfect as possible. What wasn't perfect? The screen of my balcony door, which had two giant holes in it, one of which my cat was using as her own personal pet door.
Thinking this seemed like a hassle to fix up myself, I called some screen repair people, thinking I would very happily spend $50 to let somebody else fix this. What did they quote me? $300. Not quite what I wanted. So I set out on the mission to learn how to fix screens.
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- Correct Size Screen- You'll have to measure your door/window and find out what the correct size is. I needed a super big size, 60 in. x 96 in. There are also different types of screens (insect, pet ready, fiberglass), and various colors. I got a nice inexpensive grey basic fiberglass screen, as I was moving in a month, and I have never thought about screen colors in my life (although my next door neighbor complemented the color when we were standing in the elevator, so maybe screen color really is a thing.. or she was trying to make small talk.) If you need a nicer screen, the process is the same, but you may need a different sized Spline.
- Spline- This is the stuff that holds your screen in place. The screen you buy should say on the packaging what size Spline you need to purchase. My screen said .140 in. or .160 in. I got .140 in. spline, and if your screen gives two sizes, I'd get the smaller of the two if possible, since it's easer to shove a smaller piece into the spline groove than the a larger piece.
- Spline Roller Thingy
- Box Cutter
Step 1: Remove Screen Door From Tracks
If you look on the side or the bottom of your screen, you should see a little hole. This hole is hiding the tension screw, which is what keeps the wheels holding up the door. By unscrewing this screw, you release the tension of the wheels, allowing for them to be pushed up into the door, and for you to lift the door out of the track.
Lay your screen door out somewhere flat. Preferably also somewhere that has plenty of clearance around all four sides of the door, but as you see below, that might not possible (and I managed. I did a lot of sitting on the screen, if you were wondering.)
Step 2: Remove Current Spline
This step was surprising fun- I think because it was easy and I felt super accomplished when I was done. You'll start in one of the corners, and with a tiny screwdriver, lift the spline out of the spline grove. It's probably easier if you start in the corner that contains the two ends of the current spline, but I totally didn't and it still worked out (I just broke the current spline.)
Work your way around the perimeter of the screen, pulling out the spline. Once all the spline is removed, you can remove the screen, and move onto the next step. (Note: If the handle of your door is blocking the screen/spline, you may need to remove it.)
Step 3: Lay Out the New Screen
Roll out your new screen on the frame of the door (your old screen should be removed at this point.) Arrange the screen so that there is some extra screen on all four sides of door.
Step 4: Insert Spline into Spline Groove
Your spline roller should have two sides on it, a concave side and a convex side. Use the concave side (see picture below) to push the spline and screen into the spline groove. The screen should be between the spline and spline groove, as the spline is what holds the screen in place.
You'll need to push fairly hard on the spline with the spline roller to get it into the groove. Go slowly, and be careful not to rip your screen with the spline roller (which almost happened to me a couple times.) I went back over a couple places as I moved along to make sure I had the spline fully in the spline groove.
On the last two sides, I pulled the screen taught as I pushed the spline into the groove to ensure that the screen was tight. I was really worried about this part at the beginning, but it turned out fine.
When you're worked your way all around the perimeter with spline, trim the spline to end right at the corner you started.
Step 5: Trim Off Extra Screen
Use your box cutter to trim the excess screen. Hold the box cutter at a 45 degree angle, and cut the screen as close to the outside part of the spline as possible.
When you're done, your screen should look like this:
Put the door back on the track, replace any handles you took off, and you're good to go!
All the money I spent on this was for supplies.
Spline Roller: $5.22
In total, I spent two hours of my time (that was it! I was shocked!) and $22.87 plus tax! Definitely beats the $300 quote I was given, for sure!