Now that fly season is over for the year,* I have managed to make myself some screens for the doors. Yay! Better late than never. There will be flies again next year, not to mention the annual attack of the love beetles. Right now the tiny wasps are breeding.
My landlord is wonderful, and had screens made for all the windows. However, I find it impossible not to stifle and melt in the heat unless I leave the doors open during the day. The usual practice here is to put some screen on one of those metal security gates. That would have been a most permanent installation and quite expensive, so it wasn’t one of my options. Nor was it of interest to my landlord. It was also more than my landlord wanted to spend, as he had just provided me with several upgrades at my request.
Here, there are no screened doors that one can simply purchase and install. I would have to hire someone to build custom screen doors, also a somewhat pricey solution.
So I put my thinking cap on and came up with this instead. Isn’t it cute?
Since some of you readers also live in rentals in Panama, I’m going to tell you how I made them. Wood is fairly scarce in these parts, so I kept my use of it to a minimum. Two sides of the door frame were all I used. With a pruning saw (because that’s what I had) I cut a couple of 2 x 1s to fit the door, then put three screws into each one, so I wouldn’t have to wrestle with positioning the screws and making the holes while trying to hold the screen-wrapped wood in place. I measured again to verify the exact length on both sides. Then I took the wood back down and painted it to more or less match the existing door / door frame.
The two boards were placed on the floor on a length of screen cut to a rectangle:
Width – 3 board widths plus six inches for a doubled hem along the side, and
Length – 3 board widths plus six inches for a doubled hem along the bottom.
I rolled the screen around the top board first and tucked a couple of screws into my premade holes before rolling the board for the side and fastening it similarly. Using that verified length measurement I folded a double hem and sewed it in place by hand. Why double? So it would make a strong tube I could fill with weights. Gravel was available to me, so that’s what I used.
Then came the tricky part: putting it up as a one woman show. This turned out to be fairly easy as the long board rested beneath the top board and I just had to get serious with the screw on the outer edge of the top to make the entire thing steady enough to screw down the remainder.
That left hemming the side, which was done in place. For a bit of jazz, I put a string of jingle bells into the side hem. This notifies me each time the screen is moved and helps me keep track of my four-legged “kids.” I also screwed a few bits of Velcro to the door frame and sewed their counterparts onto the flap, so I can “lock” their wriggly little bodies inside and still get some air.
I’m very pleased with my “screen doors.” A rousing success. Two “doors” for under $10. I have more privacy as they reflect the light instead of letting the world look inside the house. They work quite well in helping me keep track of the dogs. I feel slightly more secure, since I would hear the jingle if anyone entered (and the dogs would go off).
An unanticipated benefit, my friends respect the barrier. Feeble as it is, it seems quite strong psychologically and they have stopped just breezing in as they call for me. Now they stand on the porch and call. My landlord is happy as a clam and most impressed, so I won’t have to take them down when I leave (no damage, if I did have to). And, the screens keep most of the bugs out. Ta-dah.
*This was written last year, but never got posted. Better late than never, ja-ja (that’s Spanish for ha-ha). Unfortunately, my design had some flaws. Stay tuned for an update and improved design within a week!