How to Build a Screen Door

A screen door is one household fixture that will not require a homeowner to consult a professional for assistance. Screen doors are relatively simple to install and will provide optimum comfort and protection once built.


  • Screen door kit
  • Hinges
  • Latchset
  • Wood shims
  • Exterior grade wood glue
  • Fiberglass insect screen
  • Rubber spline
  • Sandpaper
  • ¾” long brads
  • Exterior grade paint stain and, or varnish


  • Six bar clamps, each longer than the door is wide
  • Spline roller
  • Utility knife
  • Drill
  • ¼” diameter drill bit
  • 9/16” spade bit
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Sharp chisel
  • Hard plane
  • Hammer


  1. Dry assemble the screen door part to ensure they fit together seamlessly. If a part doesn’t fit properly, use a chisel to pare it down.
  2. Lay out the center stile so it butts the center of the middle and bottom rails. On either end of the stile, overlapping onto the rails, make two marks for reference; drill two centered, ¼” diameter by ½” deep holes into both ends of the stile.
  3. Drill corresponding holes into the two rails, ensuring that they are also centered.
  4. Disassemble the door and glue ¼” diameter by 1½” long dowels into the stile holes; affix them to the middle and bottom rails.
  5. Reassemble the frame by applying glue to tenons on all the rails.
  6. Draw the parts together horizontally using a 4-foot-long bar clamp. Put clamps on the front and back face of the door, to prevent bowing.
  7. Check the door for square by measuring diagonally from corner to corner in both directions; do this quickly, completing it before the glue sets and becomes dry.
  8. Loosen the clamps, rack the frame until the measurements are equal, reclamp and then wipe off excess glue with a damp rag.
  9. Lock the door joint with dowels by drilling ¼” diameter holes through the stiles wherever there is a mortise and tenon joint.
  10. Apply glue to 1 ½” long dowels affixing them into the drilled holes. Allow the glue to cure overnight then remove the clamps and sand the dowels flush.
  11. Glue and nail frame molding inside the screen opening perimeter with brads on the front face of the door.
  12. Completely assemble the door using glue and brads at corners. Paint, stain, or varnish and allow it to dry completely. Cut a piece of the screen 2” larger all around than the insert, and gently push it into the groove of the insert. Trim off the excess screen with a utility knife.
  13. Screw the first hinge directly into the door casing, 5” up from the bottom of the door. Screw the second hinge 5” down from the top of the door post; middle the third hinge.
  14. Install the screen inserts and secure them with wooden turn buttons mounted on the door’s rear. Affix the latch set, centered on the door’s middle rail. Line the latch case up to the rail’s edge on the inside of the door, then mark the spindle location.
  15. Hold the latch case on the door, thread the lever’s spindle through the hole, and screw the case down.

Tips and warning

  • Put a lock on your door for added security; screw half of the lock into the new fixture while attaching the other part of it to the main door trim.
  • Wear protective gear while working on the screen door, to minimize injury.
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