We’ve replaced the mesh screen on the screen door to our back deck at least a few times, and as anyone that has done so will probably tell you, it’s not a fun job. Sure, you can get a little tool to make it a bit easier, but nothing’s worse than replacing the screen only to find a new hole in it a week later.
At our house, we have two toddlers, two large dogs, and three cats. As you can imagine, our screen door gets a lot of attention during the warmer months. All of those hands and paws on the screen has lead to a lot of scratches, rips, and tears over the years.
While we didn’t do much about it at first, after replacing a few screens, we finally decided to find a solution. In this article, I’ll go over all of the ways we’ve been able to protect our screens, as well as a few ideas that we haven’t tried yet.
First, let’s find out why this is such as issue.
Why Do Pets and Children Damage Screens?
Before we dive into the various ways to keep your screen door from getting damaged, it’s important to know why this happens in the first place. Let’s take a look at just a few of these reasons next.
The first reason that screen doors get damaged so easily is that they’re difficult to see. Any child or pet moving at a fast pace is likely to not even see it until it’s too late. Since they tear so easily, it doesn’t take much to put a hole in one.
Another reason that children, dogs, and cats often break screens is that they see something that’s simply too tempting on the other side. Since the screen door doesn’t feel like a solid barrier, they often don’t hesitate to apply pressure until it breaks.
It’s also not uncommon for children to throw things. Sometimes, a solid object makes its way toward your screen door, and you know what happens next.
When it comes to cats, they tend to scratch their claws on anything and everything (at least ours do). When a cat scratches at a screen door, they sometimes get their claws stuck. As they try to pull their paw away, this often leads to a hole or rip in the mesh.
One last reason I’ll mention is that children often think it’s funny to do something you tell them not to do. We had this happen last summer after one of our dogs accidentally ran into the screen door and loosened one edge.
Our older son proceeded to yank on it every chance he got until it finally broke free.
How to Protect Your Screen Door from Pets and Children
Now that you know why your screen door gets scratched or torn so easily, we can go over the various ways to keep this from happening. Some of these make sense for both pets and animals, while some are more ideal for just one or the other.
1 – Attach Stickers or Magnets
The first way to protect your screen door is to make it more visible. You can do this by attaching something to it to help your child or pet realize that there’s an object there.
You can get decorative stickers or magnets online that are specifically made for this purpose. This is a great way to not only protect your screens, but to add a personal touch to them at the same time.
2 – Install a Heavy Duty Screen
Another option for keeping you screen door intact is to install one made with a heavy-duty mesh fabric. Some options even say that they’re specifically made to hold up to cats and dogs.
We’ve installed one of these in the past, and while it held up better than a standard screen, it still didn’t survive long term. Also, due to the thickness of the screen, it was much more difficult to install in the track around the edge of the door.
3 – Put Barriers in Front of the Screen
A low cost option (potentially free) is to put a barrier in front of your screen door. By barrier, I mean a dining room chair, a baby gate, or any other object that can stand between your screen door and your pets or children.
If your dog, cat, or toddler can’t get to the screen door, they can’t damage it. Pretty simple.
4 – Use a Screen Door Grill
This option will cost a relatively small amount of money, but is highly effective in protecting your screen door. The basic idea is similar to the one above, in that you create a barrier between your screen and your children/pets.
We have a screen door grill that we leave right next to our screen door. Whenever we feel like we need to use it, we simply slide it in front. You can obviously attach these to your screen door as well, if you want it on there at all times.
This screen door grill is very similar to the one that we’ve used for the past few years now.
5 – Provide a Better Alternative
If your main concern is with a cat or dog pawing at the screen, simply provide them with a better alternative. In the case of a cat, put a cat scratching post or anything else that can keep the cat’s attention in that area of your house.
For a dog, consider installing a door guard. A door guard is basically a piece of material that can be attached to your door that gives your dog (it should work for cats as well) something to paw at without damaging the screen. Keep in mind that this will block some of the air flow from outside.
6 – Install a Magnetic Screen Door
One of the most interesting methods for protecting your screen door is to replace it with a magnetic version. A magnetic screen door has an opening down the center that’s lined with magnets. When your cat, dog, or child walks through the screen, it will open, then close after they’re through.
When buying a magnetic screen door, look for one that comes with a heavy duty mesh. That way, it will still be protected against scratching as well.
7 – Trim Their Claws
If your dog or cat regularly gets their claws stuck in the mesh screen, your solution might be as simple as keeping their claws trimmed. This would not fully protect your screen door from an overly aggressive animal, but if your pet is fairly mild mannered, this might be an easy low-cost solution for you.
Having a screen door or screens on your windows in great for letting some fresh air in during the warmer months of the year. However, if you have pets or children, you already know how easy these screens can get damaged.
No one wants holes or rips in their screens, allowing all sorts of bugs (or even small animals) inside. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to protect your screens, and most of them are cheap and easy.
If you have pets or kids at home, try one of the ideas above, and save yourself the headache and cost of regularly repairing or replacing your screens.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.