Window screens can get punctured or torn, but as long as the frame is in good shape repairs are easy and can be done in a few minutes. Here’s how to make your screen door or window look good as new.
The most popular replacement screen material is fiberglass, the type we're installing. Its flexibility makes it the easiest to use—if you make a mistake, you can take it out of the frame and try again. Aluminum screen is sturdier, but you only get one chance. The grooves you've made with the screen rolling tool are there to stay. A third type of screen material that's popular is sun-shading fabric. It blocks more sun, which means less load on your air-conditioning system and less fading of your carpet, draperies and furniture. It's also stronger than fiberglass and aluminum screening, so it's great for pet owners.
All three materials come in gray or black to match your other window screens. You can also get shiny aluminum as well as sun-shading fabrics in bronze and brown tones. Know the size of your window when you go to the home center. It will sell pre-measured rolls to fit nearly any opening size. If your screen frame is taller than 36 in., it should have a center support to keep it from bowing in once the material is in place. Newer screens usually come with this support. If your long screens don't have a support, you can make one out of aluminum frame stock. It's located near the screening supplies in most stores. The aluminum stock can be cut with a tin snips and trimmed to fit.
Pry out the old spline with an awl or a narrow-tipped screwdriver. Throw it away—spline gets hard and brittle as it ages and shouldn't be reused.
Place wooden blocks along the inside of the two longest sides of the frame and secure them to the work surface. The blocks keep the frame from bowing inward when you install the new screen material.
Lay the new screen material over the frame. It should overlap the frame by about 3/4 to 1 in. Cut each corner at a 45-degree angle just slightly beyond the spline groove. The cuts keep the screen from bunching in the corners.
Begin installing the new spline at a corner. Use the screen rolling tool to push the spline and screen material into the groove. Continue around the frame. If wrinkles or bulges appear, remove the spline and reroll. Small wrinkles should tighten up as you get back to the starting corner.
Trim excess screen material using a utility knife with a new sharp blade. A dull blade will pull the material, not cut it. Cut with the blade on top of the spline and pointed toward the outside of the frame.
Learn how to replace a door or window screen in our video tutorial.
If the screen tension is too loose, the screen will sag, but if you pull it too tight, especially on larger door and window screens, the tension can actually bow in the aluminum sides. Here’s a simple way to get it just right. After rolling in the screen on the first two adjoining sides, place a brick or similar heavy object in the center of the screen to create the proper amount of slack. Then continue installing the fabric along the third and fourth sides of the screen frame. Remove the brick.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
You'll also need scissors, an awl and a screen roller.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.