Screening Replacement

Do It Yourself Screen Repair

Spring is coming and it will soon be time to open your windows to let in some fresh air.

Are your window screens in need of repair? Does your screen have holes or rips in it? Maybe your screens are just showing signs of wear or discoloration from the elements.

Maintenance of your window screens is very simple and it can make your screens look new again adding beauty and comfort to your home.

Revitalize your screens by cleaning them with dish detergent and a soft cloth. Rinse the soap off with a gentle spray from your garden hose.

To fix a small hole in a window screen push the mesh back in place and seal it with super glue or nail polish. For larger holes you will need to cut a patch from an old screen or purchase some screen fabric from your local hardware store. Cut a patch in a square or circle that overlaps the hole by about a half-inch. The patch can then be attached to the screen using super glue, hot glue, Elmer’s glue or it can be sewn on using a needle and thread. This is a temporary fix to keep the bugs out until you are ready to replace the screen fabric in the frame.

In order to replace the screen fabric, first find your screen frame type. Is it a Molding Frame or is it a Channel Frame?

Screen fabric is attached to a Molding Frame by stapling and then covering the staples with molding.

Screen fabric is attached to a Channel Frame by pushing the screen fabric into the frame channel with plastic spline.

For replacing screens in a Molding Frame you will need the following tools: hammer, small chisel or screwdriver, staple gun, small brad nails, trim nail punch, shears or scissors, pliers, utility knife, screen fabric (aluminum or fiberglass) and extra molding if you break a piece during removal.

 An optional type of screen material available for screen replacement is sun-shading fabric. It gives your windows more shade, which saves money on your air-conditioning bill and helps to keep your carpet, draperies and furniture from sun fading. It is stronger than fiberglass and aluminum screening which makes it pet and rodent resistant. Works great for basement window screens!  

To remove the old screen fabric from a Molding Frame, remove the frame from the window and pry off the existing molding from the frame with a small chisel or screwdriver. Be sure to use pliers to remove all the old staples and brads from the frame. Make sure the lines in the new fabric are lined up with the frame. Cut the replacement screen fabric with shears or scissors so its size overlaps the frame by a half-inch all the way around, and set the screen fabric on top of the frame. Use a staple gun to fasten the screen fabric to the frame starting from the middle of the frame and working to the corners, keeping the screen fabric tight and the tension even. Next staple the screen fabric to the opposite side of the frame, remember to keep the screen fabric straight. Repeat until all four sides are finished.

After you have finished stapling the screen fabric to the frame, nail the old molding back into place using small nails or brads. Replace any split or broken molding. Use the old molding as a guide to mark the mitered ends of the new molding. Score the marked line with a utility knife before sawing. This will prevent the molding from cracking or breaking during sawing. Make sure to countersink your brad nails using a small countersink punch or a nail. Trim off any excess screen fabric. For a professional look, hold your utility knife against the molding edge while cutting. Fill all countersunk nail holes with a wood filler or caulk, and paint with exterior house paint.

For replacing screen fabric in a Channel Frame you will need the following tools: spline screen tool, a small chisel or screwdriver, shears or scissors, utility knife, a brick, screen fabric (aluminum or fiberglass) and replacement spline if you break it during removal. Take a piece of this with you to the hardware store so you can match up the diameter.

If your metal screen frame is damaged or broken you can replace it with a screen frame kit which can be purchased at your local hardware store. Make sure you measure the length of your screen frame (the longest side of the frame) and use this measurement when purchasing your new frame kit.

To remove the old screen from a channel frame, remove the frame from the window. Use a small screwdriver or small chisel to pry up the old spline (start where the two ends come together) and remove it from the frame. After the spline is removed push the screen from the backside of the channel to remove it from the frame. Make sure the lines of the new screen fabric are lined up with the frame. Cut your replacement screen fabric with shears or scissors and place the fabric so it overlaps the channel. You will have to form the screen fabric by pressing it into the channel along the top of the frame using the convex end of a spline screening tool. It is the end that looks like a blunt pizza cutter. This will make it easier to install the spline. If you are using a synthetic screen fabric and it will not hold a shape, skip this step and begin spline installation.

Starting at one corner, carefully push the spline and screen fabric into the channel using the concave side of the spline screen tool. The spline and screen fabric should fit tight in the channel. To help insure proper screen tension, place a brick in the middle of the screen on top of the screen fabric and pull the screen fabric tight while pressing the spline into the channel.  Work your way around the sides of the frame, keeping the screen fabric tight. If you get a wrinkle in the screen fabric, remove the spline and pull the fabric tight to remove the wrinkle. Be careful not to over tighten or rip the screen fabric with the screen tool when pressing the spline in the channel.

After you have installed the spline on all four sides, carefully cut the excess length of spline with a utility knife. Use the screening tool or a screwdriver to push the spline end into the channel. Next, carefully angle your utility knife against the spline and cut away the excess screen fabric from the frame. Make sure the spline is securely embedded in the frame channel.

With a little practice and patience you can give your screens a fresh and professional look, keeping the insects out and keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.