How to Replace a Window Screen
Get your window screens in shape for summer with this simple screen repair project. We'll walk you through it.
An hour or less
Less than $20
IntroductionWindow screens can get punctured or torn, but as long as the frame is in good shape window screen 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.
- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Cordless drill
- Screen roller
- Utility knife
- Wood stop block
Select Replacement Window Screens Material
The most popular window replacement screens 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.
Another type of material for window screens 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. There’s also heavy-duty screen material that’s targeted specifically for pet owners.
Most screen 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 inches, 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.
Project step-by-step (6)
Screen Repair: Pry Out the Spline
- Pry out the old spline with an awl or a narrow-tipped screwdriver. Before you throw away the old spline, cut a short piece to use as a guide for getting the correct diameter replacement spline. Match up the diameter of the old piece to the illustration on new spline packaging, or measure the old spline’s diameter and make sure the new spline is the same.
Amanda Keim-Morrison for Family HandymanAmanda Keim-Morrison for Family Handyman
- Throw it away — spline gets hard and brittle as it ages and shouldn’t be reused.
Secure the Frame
- 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 window screen repair material.
How to Put a Window Screen Back In and Position the New Screen
- Lay the new screen material over the frame. It should overlap the frame by about 3/4-in. to one inch.
- Cut each corner at a 45-degree angle just slightly beyond the spline groove. The cuts keep the screen from bunching in the corners.
Push the New Screen In
- 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 re-roll.
- Small wrinkles should tighten up as you get back to the starting corner.
Trim the Screen
- 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.
Pro Trick for Proper Screen Tension
- During window screen replacement, 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.