Unbelievably light, open, and nearly two-dimensional, screen doors are workhorses that still take a beating from over-eager children, anxious pets, and errant softballs. Screens, especially, don’t hold up forever, eventually needing either a patch job or complete replacement. Fortunately, traditional wood screen doors are designed to be repaired, and when hardware or frames are missing or beyond repair, there’s a bounty of reproductions available to fit the screen door look from any era.
Screen doors have been so omnipresent on old houses over the last century that it may be a surprise to learn they were rare before 1870. Though it was a common practice to tack gauze over window openings to thwart insects, wire screening wasn’t even commercially available until about 1830. To improve on the horsehair historically used to make sieves for sifting flour and grains, the Gilbert and Bennett Manufacturing Co. in Connecticut, experimented with mechanically weaving wire screen on looms designed for making carpets. The result was an affordable fine metal cloth that could be stretched on a wood frame.