Saturday, June 13, 2015

Quick & Easy Screen Door Fix!

The house came with a couple of decent-looking screen doors on the front, one upstairs and one down. They were both hung on the wrong side of the jamb and therefore awkward to use in a couple of ways.  Also, neither of them had handle or lock hardware, just a hook-and-eye. Then the downstairs screen door, the one hung on the front door which gets A LOT of traffic, wasn't altered at all since purchase and therefore was so tight in the jamb that we couldn't have a door mat outside - this is a bigger deal because the same is true with the clearance of the front door itself... no room for a door mat and we have a THIN one. All of these things are annoying and sometimes frustrating, but not enough for us to have fixed them... until last winter when I couldn't stand the idea of not having a door mat outside any longer and took it down.

The still-installed upstairs door, which does allow for a door mat.

We don't have the tools (yet) to cut that door down a bit and I had all the materials on hand to make an "curtain style" insect screen for the front door. This project was SUPER EASY and pretty quick.

The new screen curtain on the front door.

Supplies (for one door):
1 roll of 36" x 84" pet screen (fiberglass and sturdier with pet claws than metal)
2 three-yard packages* of 1/2" double-fold bias tape (I used black, but a bright color could be fun)
1 curtain tension rod that fits your door jamb.

Sewing machine
Straight pins

Step 1: Sew an appropriately-sized rod pocket into the top. It needs to be wide enough to easily slip the tension rod through, but not so wide as to make the screen too short. Mine is about 1.75". I just used the standard straight stitch on my Pfaff for all the sewing. After I did this first step, I installed it and we lived with it a few days to be sure we would like it before I put more work and materials into it. We did like it - at least a lot more than we liked the door, and it was good fun watching the dogs find it for the first time.

NOTE: My door frame was the right width for the screen right out of the package. If yours is narrower, cut the screen to fit. Luckily, the grid pattern of the screen makes it easy to cut straight so long as you take your time and your eyes don't go wonky with the shifting squares.

I think it would have looked nicer if I'd added the bias tape before making the rod pocket, but I'm not convinced it would have functioned better so I'm going to be satisfied with it as it is.

Step 2: After making sure that the rod was at the top of the door jamb, I found where the screen hit the deck (as it were) to decide where to hem. Then I used the lines in the screen to keep it level and pinned it in place. Sew it. Working closely with insect screen can make your eyes go wonky and play optical illusion tricks, so I thought pinning would help me keep it straight.

I didn't get a shot of the hem before I added the bias tape. And I missed cutting that one thread (upper right) before taking he photo. Meh.
Not the neatest stitching I've ever done, but everything is secure and you seriously don't even notice when you're not taking a macro photo of it. ;)

Step 3: Then I bound it with the bias tape, working with the whole length and cutting as I came near the end of the screen. The ends of the bias tape are tucked under about a 1/2".  I didn't get to fussy about making sure the folded under part didn't show since both the tape and the screen are black.

I considered adding a mullion detail for funsies and because the screen is kind of invisible which leads to forgetting it's there and having that walking-into-a-web-feeling, but Eric likes how it kind of looks like the door is just open and unobstructed and I like keeping the project easy and quick.

Not much to look at, but that's one of the benefits as far as we're concerned. And in person, it looks just like a darkened doorway.

I'm going to do another for the upstairs door, but will also keep the screen door installed since it's in the guest room and we want guests to feel comfortable sleeping with the door open on hot summer nights.

* Eric was shocked that I wasn't going to make the bias tape, since that's one of my things. Since I wanted plain black to blend with the screen material, it made sense to go with pre-made: faster AND cheaper since I used coupons.


  1. Hey, this is stillatthetop. I really like your plan. it "unlooks cool", as in disappears and lets in breezes. :)


    1. Thanks! Yes, we get the benefit of a breeze and hearing the birds and crickets, w/o letting the flying bugs in!

  2. Looks great and will make a world of difference in the summer.

  3. ???? ok here is the, hum, dumb question. how does it work?? is it just hanging there? I know you said it is on a spring rod, so do you just sorta pull it back out of the way and walk though and hope you dont hit your head on it?? thank for the information!! i have a screen door that our dogs have torn the screen out of pat of it and with this I think i have an idea that will work on it. well have a screen protector on the outside and that helps a lot! now to put some of the pet screen up inside to help keep out the bugs.
    once again thanks for showing us your idea

    1. Hiya!

      Yup, we just use a hand or elbow to push it aside with never any worry about hitting our head. Because it's fiberglass and not the traditional metal, it is pretty flexible and light weight. It might not work well for some people, but it's certainly no more effort or inconvenient than it would be to use a latch or handle for us.

  4. Eric was shocked and also disgusted that Tara had caved to the using the soul-less fruits of the Bias Industrial Complex.

    Fan of Artisanal, Small-Batch Bias Tape

  5. I use a homemade pet screen door too, but I found that putting weights in the bias tape along the bottom helps the screen fall back into place quickly, keeping the bugs out. The weights also help keep the screen in place on windy days; my dogs will not use the door if the wind is blowing the screen open.

    Giovanni @ Coastal Contract Hardware

    1. Originally I planned to install weights in the bottom hem (not bias tape in my version), but when I did my test run I found that it fell into place quickly on its own. We very rarely have winds strong enough or from the right direction to upset the screen and when we do there's enough dust and/or pollen kicking up that we shut the door anyway! I got lucky and saved myself the money and time of adding the weights, but I know that wouldn't work for many people.

  6. Good job!
    AA Security & Screens have been installing and supplying windows and Screens & Security Doors in all suburbs across Brisbane, Australia.
    Plantation Shutters
    Screen Doors

  7. ^ Look guys! This might be my first spammy-type comment! I wonder if this means that I have some kind of audience in Australia?


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