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How to Fix a Screen Door

Why replace a screen door if you can just fix it?

FH13NOV_SCREEN_01-2Family Handyman
All it takes is one big gust of wind to whip your screen door back so far that it rips the retaining bracket right out of the doorjamb. The damage looks pretty frightening, but the fix is actually fairly easy.

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Overview

You can repair the jamb damage in about an hour. Then you’ll need a half-hour to paint, install a new closer and a heavy-duty wind chain, and after that you can call it a day. The total cost for materials is about $35. To do the repair, you’ll need two-part wood filler, a disposable plastic spreader or putty knife, a package of star-drive 3-in. screws, a star-drive bit and bit extension, sandpaper, and a drill. Add a wind chain if your door doesn’t already have one, and buy a new door closer if the rod on the old one got bent. Here are the repair steps.

Patch and paint the jamb

Photo 1: Patch the jamb

Scoop up the filler with a disposable plastic spreader and force it deep into the cracks on the jamb. Then apply a second, thicker coat to cover the entire repair. Let it harden for about 45 minutes. Then sand until smooth, prime and paint.

Start by yanking out any loose wood shards. Save the larger pieces and toss the smaller ones. Then mix up a small batch of wood filler, coat the backs of the larger pieces and press them back into place. Let the filler set up for about 10 minutes so the pieces don’t move when you apply the final coat of filler. Then mix a larger batch and patch the entire damaged area (Photo 1).

Mount the new closer bracket

Photo 2: Predrill and mount the bracket

Chuck in an extension and star-drive bit and run the two 3-in. screws into the upper holes first. Then install the two bottom screws.

Position the new door closer bracket on the jamb according to the instructions. Level it and mark the hole locations. Then drill four pilot holes through the wood filler (to prevent it from cracking). Toss the mounting screws that came with the new door closer and mount the bracket using 3-in. screws (Photo 2).

Install a heavy-duty wind chain and closer

Photo 3: Mount the wind chain

Drive two 3-in. screws into the top jamb to secure the wind chain spring. Then attach the other end of the chain either to the upper door closer bracket or directly to the door itself. Finish by attaching the chain retracting spring.

Photo 4: Secure the closer and adjust

Pull the rod out of the closer and install the retaining pin. Then turn the adjustment knob or screw to get the proper closing force.

A heavy-duty wind chain keeps the screen door from opening past the length of the door closer, so it prevents this type of accident. Attach one end of the chain to the door and the other to the top jamb (Photo 3). Then connect the new closer to the bracket (Photo 4).

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Disposable plastic spreader
  • Drill/driver - cordless
  • Extension cord
  • Putty knife
  • Safety glasses
  • Star-drive bit

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • 3-in. Star-drive screws
  • Sandpaper
  • Screen door closer
  • Screen door wind chain
  • Wood filler