Window Screen Replacement Can Seem Daunting, But We Made It Simple
Spring is here and it’s finally time to start prepping for the warmer months. Whether you leave window screens on all year or store them when not in use, it’s all too easy for rips to appear. A damaged screen lets bugs, debris, and even disease into your home. But you don’t have to pay for an entirely new screen! This is a repair you can do at home in minutes, for pennies per screen.
What You Need
Having the appropriate tools and materials for the project is important. Start your window screen replacement with the following supplies on hand:Tools:
- Flathead Screwdriver
- Utility Knife
- Bricks or weights
- Screen Roller
- Clamps (optional)
- Drill (optional)
- Woodblock anchor (optional)
- Anchor screws (optional)
- Broken Screen
- New spline (plastic cording)
- New screen
Note on Screen Materials
There are three kinds of material you can use for your window screen:
- Sun-shading fabric
Fiberglass window screen mesh is the most common option. It’s easy to install, offers excellent visibility, and is fairly kind to your wallet. However, it is less durable than other options, so weather, children, or pets can tear it more easily.Pros:
- Less durable than other options
This metal mesh is more durable than fiberglass while still offering excellent visibility. The metal stands up to impacts or tears much better. However, it is trickier to install, because a misplaced spline crease is permanent.Pros:
- Easy to bend, wrinkle, or warp
If you need something truly protective, sun-shading polyester fabric is a great option. It is the sturdiest option, and won’t warp or bend. Since it’s an actual fabric, it blocks the sun more effectively than aluminum or fiberglass. On the other hand, this also cuts down visibility.Pros:
- Strongest option
- Prevents fading
- Comes in many colors
- Less visibility
- More expensive
Once you’ve chosen the material you want, you can get on with making the actual repair. Also, be sure to check out our tutorial videos for screen repair.
1. Remove the Old Screen
The first step of repairing a screen is getting the old screen material out of the frame. The old frame is the only thing you will keep. It’s already fitted to your windows, so keeping it saves you a lot of time and effort. To remove the old mesh from the frame, you need to remove the old “spline.” A spline is the plastic cording that holds the mesh into the frame. You can pry this out of the frame with a flat-head screwdriver. Be careful not to damage the frame, but don’t worry about the spline or screen. You can discard them as soon as they’re out of the screen.
2. Stabilize the Frame
Without the uniform tension of the screen material in the frame, it’s less stable. You can secure the frame and keep it from warping in two ways. First, you can use wooden anchor blocks. Place your screen on a flat wooden work surface. Then put the anchor blocks against the inside edges of the screen. Now you can drive the screws through the anchor blocks into the work surface. These anchor blocks will keep the screen from moving or warping as you pull the new screen material tight. You can also do something similar with clamps. In this case, put the screen frame on a table of elevated flat surface. Put a clamp on either side of the frame and tighten it firmly, but not until it dents the frame. This will help keep things still and stable while you work.
3. Position the New Screen
The new screen material should be at least an inch wider and taller than the frame. That extra material is what keeps the screen secured to the frame beneath the spline. The best way to measure this is to roll out the screen material over the frame and eyeball it. You can cut the material with scissors, but we recommend using a utility knife. Once you have the new material sized out, you can put it in place. Center it on the frame, so there is an even amount of extra screen on each side. Once you’re confident it’s in position, cut the corners of the new screen at a 45-degree angle. These cuts should be approximately a centimeter away from the corner of the spline groove. Without this cut, the screen material will be bunchy and wrinkled in the corners.
4. Secure the New Screen
Now you can start to secure the new material to the frame. Start in one corner, and begin pushing the spline and new screen into the frame groove. The first two sides should be relatively straightforward. Watch to make sure you are keeping the screen material straight. If the screen looks like it’s becoming crooked or a large wrinkle develops, carefully pull the spline back out and try again. Small wrinkles are natural. They should even out as you finish the third and fourth sides of the screen.
5. Manage Screen Tension
If you want to make sure your screen tension is even, there’s a trick you can try. Secure the first two sides of the screen material to the frame. Pull the material so it’s snug. Then take a brick or a weight and place it on the center of the screen. This will help keep the screen from pulling too tight or staying too loose.
6. Trim Excess Material
Once the screen is firmly in place, you can trim off the extra material around the edge. You can trim the extra with scissors or a utility knife. Leave a millimeter or two of screen material visible when you trim. Cutting it too close can lead to your screen coming loose. Once you’ve trimmed everything up, you’re all set. You can put the screen back in the window where it belongs.
Window screen replacement can be quite gratifying as a DIY project, and it can also help keep your family safe. As a bonus, every time you look out that window for the rest of the summer, the satisfaction of a job well done will put a smile on your face.