How to Make a Pet-Proof Screen Panel for Your Sliding Glass Door

Updated on April 9, 2017

You Will Need:

  • a sewing needle
  • button thread or dental floss
  • a piece of wire shelving, 16" wide with a one inch lip (step one includes further instructions)
  • a roll of window screen material

Why Make A Pet-Proof Screen Panel?

I have three pets, and I live on the bottom floor of a condo building. My sliding glass patio door faces the parking lot, and dogs and their owners walk past all the time. Chipmunks and squirrels scurry across my patio.

The dogs walking by drive my dog bananas. The small mammals and birds drive my cats nuts. All three want to get through the screen as quickly as possible. My cats actually figured out how to pop the sliding screen door out of its track so that they could run out singing, "Born Free," in cat language.

I had the option of repairing the screen door, but it would cost $500 to replace the mangled track. I tried leaving the patio door closed all the time, but I missed the fresh air. I tried leaning the screen door back on the track and placing a baby gate in the doorway, but the cats climbed it and the dog knocked it down. I tried wedging the screen back in the track, but then it couldn't open and close, and I couldn't use the door.

So, I went to Home Depot and tried to figure out how best to solve this problem. I created this panel, and it cost about $30 and an hour to make.

I hope someone can benefit from this.

Step One: The Wire Shelf

  • Measure your sliding door height from the bottom to about an inch from the top. Mark down this measurement.
  • Go to the hardware store and look for wire closet shelving, the wider the better. Mine was 16" and it was the widest I could find.
  • Make sure the lip of the shelf is the thin type (about 3/4"-1") and not the two inch kind. It is sometimes called a low-profile lip.
  • Get the really long shelf pieces and have them cut it for you to your measurement. If you're handy, you can cut it yourself with the snips provided.
  • You can order the shelf listed to the right on Amazon, and they will cut it to your measurements and send it to your door.

Click image to enlarge it.
Click image to enlarge it.

Step Two: Measure the Screen

  • Lay the shelf on the floor.
  • Unroll the screen material on the floor next to it to get a piece of screen one and a half inches longer than the shelf panel.
  • Put the shelf over the screen piece on the floor and, with scissors, trim all around panel to get a piece that is the same size as the panel except for an inch and a half sticking out higher at the top of the panel.

Step Three: Align the screen.

Lay the shelf on the floor with the bottom of the lip facing up (bottom of shelf is up).

If your door slides to the left, put the lip facing the left on the floor.

If your door slides to the right, put the lip facing the right on the floor.

Put the piece of screen on the panel, with the extra inch and a half of screen sticking out of the top. Align all edges.


Click image to enlarge it.
Click image to enlarge it.

Step Four: Sew on the Screen

  • Don't worry if you can't sew! This is not really sewing.
  • Pick about 16 points around the screen, mostly on the outside, but a few on the inside.  Points in illustration are just sample points; you can choose your own.
  • At each point, use the needle and thread or dental floss to secure the screen to the bars of the shelf. Just make a stitch through the screen, around the bar, back up through the screen, and tie the ends of the thread in a tight knot.
  • Repeat until the screen is securely fastened to the shelf panel.

Step Five: You're Done! Use the screen!

Open your patio door.

Make sure the side with the extra inch of screen is facing up, and that the lip is toward the wall side of your door.

Place the lip of the shelf into the groove of your patio door frame in the wall.

If possible, place the bottom of the shelf into the bottom track of the door.

Slide your patio door closed to the other end of the shelf.  The non-lip side of the shelf should fit between the locking mechanisms of your patio door, holding it more securely.  Play around with it to find the best way to put the panel.

Adjust the extra inch of screen at the top to cover the space between the door frame and the panel.  The extra inch of space gives the panel room to be moved up and down when it is being moved.

Step Six: Enjoy the New Screen

The pets shouldn't be able to get through unless you have a very exuberant dog with a lot of body weight. Watch your pets to see how they react.

Bring the panel inside when not in use. It can be stored for the winter.

This panel will not keep out bugs as well as your regular screen, but it does a decent job.

You can open and close the door with the screen staying in place fairly well if it is positioned properly in the door grooves. The doorway is narrower, but is still large enough for most people to walk through.

(note: If you already have a screen in place and just want to keep your dog from going through it, just stick the shelving in the door as mentioned above and skip the whole attaching the screen thing.  It can just be a pet-proof gate!)

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Suzi Caress 5 weeks ago

        Thank you for sharing.

      • profile image

        Brooke 2 years ago

        Very nice!

      • MoRita profile image
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        MoRita 4 years ago from IL

        Thanks, Janet!

      • profile image

        Janet D 6 years ago

        Brillant idea!

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