How to Re-Screen a Sliding Door

It was a long winter here in Chicago, and we’re all very happy to no longer hear 2 scary words (“polar vortex”). The moment it became even somewhat warm outside, Finn & I opened the windows, pushed open the patio door, and breathed in the fresh spring air! We have a great little balcony area that we really enjoy, and it’s great to open up the sliding door and let lots of sunshine and air inside our condo.
On one particularly nice spring night, we grilled dinner and enjoyed a couple drinks outside, leaving our sliding door wide open. When we came back indoors, we looked on the ceiling and I screamed. There were bugs and flies all over the place. Holy hell, you should have seen me. Poor Finn had to spend all night trying to get all of the flies back outside, while I huddled in the corner with a blanket over my head until he gave the all clear.
After that incident…it was clear that we needed to add a screen door to our balcony. No more bug city in our place. (side note: remember the candy Bug City? I looooved those!)
how to re-screen a sliding door
open balcony door
We lucked out and actually found the sliding screen door (that was supposed to be on our door) tucked behind our washing machine in our unit. So we had the first step down, but we still need to “screen” the screen door. I’m not gonna lie, I was a bit intimidated…I’ve never done this before! But after reading about it online, I headed to Ace Hardware and came home with all of the supplies to tackle this DIY project.

The first thing you will need is called spline. Spline is a flexible strip that you insert into the grooves of the door to hold the screen in place. It comes in multiple sizes, so I made sure to check out my screen door before heading to the store.

mesh screen

Then you’ll obviously need some screen.

spline roller
Also, be sure to grab a spline roller. It’s a little pizza cutter looking thing that you’ll use to push the spline into the grooves of the screen door.
utility knife
A utility knife will come in handy to cut any excess screen, so be sure to keep that nearby.
Okay, so that’s seriously all you need for this project. The screen door, screen, spline, spline roller, and a utility knife. Boom, done.
lay mesh screen on door
To begin, I laid out the screen door flat on the ground. Then I laid the screen over it, making sure it stayed straight across.
using spline
Next, I grabbed the spline and used the spline roller to insert it into the groove of the side.
using a spline roller
The spline roller is a must for this step. It gets the spline in there nice and snug, and really helps to keep the screen secure. Be sure to pull the screen tightly across, and re-adjust as you go around the perimeter of the screen door. You don’t want the screen to be lopsided, and you also don’t want it to be too loose on the door. Go slow, take your time, and get the screen on there nicely.
cutting mesh with utility knife
Once you’ve got the spline wrapped around all 4 sides of the screen door, grab that utility knife and cut off the end of the spline. Then carefully cut the excess screen from each side. I say carefully, because you definitely don’t want to accidentally cut the screen. That would ruin all of your hard work. That would be no bueno.
Once you’re all done with that, use the spline roller once more to give the entire perimeter a good once over. You just want to make sure the spline is in there to stay, because that’s the only thing holding the actual screen in place.
spraying slide-all
Finally, the door was re-screened and up on the tracks. But, it was a bit difficult to open and close so I grabbed some spray lubricant to get the tracks nice and greased up.
A few sprays of this stuff, and we were good to go!
screen door
So there you go…that’s how you re-screen a sliding door. Not that difficult right? For some reason this project totally intimidated me, but luckily my worries were unfounded. Not the most glamorous DIY project, but definitely a necessary one!
screen door on balcony
We can now enjoy the nice Chicago breeze…minus the bugs. Bring on those warm summer nights!
Casey DIY Playbook

  • Marguerite Shipley

    OK, back up. What about the door handle? Does that come off before you do this, and back on afterwards. I have one that’s torn around there. I didn’t think it came off easily. I will re-check when I get home. Maybe you could describe the different types of screen. You would want a sturdy one for a door.

    • You’ll take the door handle off on the side where you’re inserting the new screen. You’ll just need a screwdriver and can simply unscrew some small screws on there. As for the screen, it depends on where your door is and the use it gets. They have more durable ones specific for pets, but the thicker you go…the harder it is to re-screen. Good luck!

    • Marguerite Shipley

      Thanks. And in that case, I may just remove that door thingee, and patch that section with a screen patch. It’s a door that’s not used much.