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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

What Homeowners Need To Know About Screen Door Lock Replacement

by Ralph September 1, 2021

Screen door lock replacement is more necessary than many people think. Whether you are looking to keep your screen door from rattling in the wind, ensure it properly shuts to keep bugs out or want to signal to guests not to use that door, you will need a screen door lock.

We will go over some of the general things you may want to know about screen door lock replacement, as well as provide information about specific types of locks. And finally, what you need to know if you are looking to avoid replacing a screen door handle and lock.

What you need to know about screen door lock replacement:


Why is my screen door not locking?

A screen door not locking could be caused by the lock, foundation, or door. Locks could be broken, the foundation may be lifting to wedge the door, or the wood door/frame could be expanding. A misaligned door or a lock that has limited functionality are the most common causes.

How do I adjust a screen door that won’t close?

Before a screen door lock replacement, see if adjusting the door will solve your problem. You can either change the alignment of the lock or adjust the door. Lock alignment can be changed by moving the strike plate up or down on the door jamb. The door can be cut if it is rubbing against the floor.

Can you put a lock on a screen door handle?

The simplest way to install a lock on a screen door is with screen door lock replacement. You can exchange your non-locking handle with one that has a keyed cylinder or interior thumbturn. In some cases, the screen door will need to be drilled or cut to accommodate a lock.

Does a screen door need a lock?

A screen door lock offers control of the flow of traffic and minor security improvement. It suggests visitors use an alternate entryway. It also impedes access to a primary door. Without screen door lock replacement, you are not maximizing the potential of your door.

What makes a screen door stick?

Whether your screen door or screen door lock is sticking, it is likely due to weather changes, which have caused the wood to expand. If your screen door is not made of wood, the issue is most likely with the doorframe. If the lock is causing trouble, you may also require screen door lock replacement.

Screen Door Lock Types

Screen door lock replacement is more straightforward when it is a one-to-one replacement. The type of lock you have is the same type of lock you should install. There is no call for upgrading your lock because a screen door cannot utilize any high-security door locks.

Though you may not be seeking home invasion prevention from your screen door lock replacement, you may want to change the style of the lock for aesthetic reasons. The functionality will also vary in terms of whether the door can be unlocked from the inside or outside.

This section is also going to outline what might be wrong with your lock. This is helpful because diagnosing your door lock problem assures that screen door lock replacement is the solution and not some form of door adjustment. Remember, you have to know what you have before you can get what you need.

1. Keyed Handle

The type of keyed handles used on screen doors is often different from the keyed door knob you would find beside a deadbolt on an exterior door. This screen door lock is often plastic rather than metal and rarely shaped as a knob (often a pull or twist handle).

Though these locks are different in many ways from other devices, this screen door lock replacement will be similar to the process of replacing interior door knobs. Keep considerations about door closure in mind rather than worrying about security.

Most of the hardware is going to be on the outside of the door rather than built-in. This will be one of the easier screen door locks to install if there is currently no lock. Non-keyed handles will likely have the same or similar set screw heights.

Key Takeaways:

  • Often a plastic handle with a keyed cylinder on the handle.
  • Most of the lock hardware will be outside of the 
  • Easy to swap out unkeyed handles with keyed handles.

2. Mortise Latch

Similar to a keyed handle, this mortise lock uses a handle and keyed cylinder to actuate a spring-loaded latch bolt. However, the lock body is housed in a pocket carved into the door. It is also modular, meaning it is easier to replace parts rather than the whole lock.

A mortise latch lock is more common on storm doors than screen doors, but if this is the lock you are using, it is the lock you need. Because mortise lock bodies fit inside a pocket in the door, this pocket needs to be filled by your screen door lock replacement.

To remove a mortise latch lock, the door must be open so you can reach the set screws on the lock body. Once the lock body is free, make sure to hold fast as these assemblies can fall inside hollow screen doors. You can also easily do partial replacements if you are just looking to fix a loose door handle or replace a door lock cylinder.

Key Takeaways:

  • A mortise latch lock fits inside a pocket within the door.
  • When replacing a mortise latch lock, it is best not to change lock types.
  • You can perform particle screen door lock replacement with a mortise latch.

3. Latch & Pull

On sliding screen doors, you are likely to find a latch and pull style lock. This lock is only accessible from inside and throws/retracts a latch. When the latch is engaged, the door(s) cannot slide. The latch must match the keeper so both can properly interface.

Screen door latch replacement amounts to changing the catch and the latch. Often these are fastened with two Phillips heads screws accessible when the door is open. Screen door lock replacement may be more complex if the latch and pull device is built into the door.

Most people look for unconventional ways to secure a sliding door because these latch and pull locks are often damaged without being replaced. But sliding doors (especially double doors) which are not secured with a latch can spread apart throughout the day and allow in insects and pests.

A latch and pull lock makes sure your screen door closes properly without any troublesome gaps. Screen door lock replacement offers greater convenience by making sure you don’t have to double-check whether or not letting in a cool breeze is letting in flies, mosquitos, etc.

Key Takeaways:

  • Latch and pull locks are often found on sliding screen doors.
  • Screen door lock replacement is more difficult if the lock is built into the door.
  • This lock’s main purpose is to hold the door closed, so there is no gap for insects.

Avoiding Screen Door Lock Replacement

There are reasons why people put off-screen door latch replacement. Let’s sort out when replacing a screen door handle and lock is not necessary as well as when it is. Through sorting out the good excuses from the bad, you will know if you need screen door lock replacement.

1. Fine Without

When a screen door lock breaks, some people aren’t bothered. The loss of functionality is not felt, and the lock is not missed. But I would suggest a screen door lock replacement to change these locking devices for non-locking handles, though the wind may cause the door to open and slam.

It is a good idea to remove locks that are not in use, especially if they are broken. Over time a neglected screen door latch replacement can result in a stuck latch that will not retract and create a headache with removing the door to address the rusted or jammed lock.

You do not always need screen door lock replacement, nor do you need to find a way to lock your door without a lock. But make sure your door is still closing without a gap if there is no lock and that your broken lock does not create more severe problems down the line.

Key Takeaways:

  • Do not keep a broken lock on a door, even if you do not desire a new lock.
  • Broken locks that are not removed can get worse to where the door will not open.
  • A lock is often necessary to keep the screen door from opening.

2. Door Problems

When you have an issue with your door and not the lock, screen door latch replacement is not going to solve the problem. But how do you tell if your door is having trouble or your lock is broken? Troubleshoot the lock by opening the door and cycling the lock.

If the door knob turns but won’t open, or you have to rattle your key to actuate the lock while the door is open, you need a screen door lock replacement. When the issue disappears while the door is open, then you know you have a door problem.

Replacing a screen door handle and lock is not a solution for a door that is misaligned or expanded. And fixing your door may only be temporary as weathering and foundation lift are often recurring issues. Be sure to look for long-term fixes or plan for regular maintenance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Unlock/lock your door while it is open to see if the problem persists.
  • If a lock is only problematic while the door is closed, the door is the problem.
  • Door problems may require regular maintenance instead of a one-time solution.

3. Lock Problems

If you are having problems with your locks, the best option is screen door lock replacement. Repair is likely not viable, as these types of locks are rarely designed for servicing and reassembly. But with mortise latch locks, you may not need to replace the whole lock.

Due to the modular nature of mortise latch locks, replacing a screen door handle and lock may not be necessary. Whatever part is giving you the trouble can be removed without full-screen door lock replacement.

If there is a call to fix a stuck door latch, just focus on the screen door latch replacement. In other cases, changing a door knob might be all you need. But if your door needs screen door lock replacement, you do not need to replace it with a locking handle if you do not desire a lock.

Key Takeaways:

  • Most screen door locks cannot be repaired, only replaced.
  • Partial screen door lock replacement is sometimes possible with mortise latch locks.
  • If you can isolate the broken part of the lock, see if that part can be replaced.

Final Thoughts

Many people ignore screen door lock replacement because they do not see the benefit in locking this type of door. This is especially true if you are using a mesh screen and not a security screen. But replacing a screen door handle and lock should not be dismissed.

A latch ensures your screen door closes properly, which prevents insects from entering the home. This type of lock can also let visitors know to use another door. And a broken lock can worsen to the point where the door becomes unusable. So get a screen door lock replacement when you need it.

Category: Lock Types, Residential

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