Changing a Window Screen

Changing a window screen is a frequent home repair that takes only a few minutes. Screens are useful for keeping out debris and bugs while allowing the house to be naturally ventilated with open windows, but they do not last forever. When a screen becomes dented or torn, it is time for a replacement, like when you clean out a refrigerator coil, the old one has to go.

Before replacing the whole screen, determine whether it can be repaired. Small holes can be patched without having the remove the screen at all. Most window screens are made of fiberglass or aluminum. The two require different sorts of repairs, but an inexpensive patch can save you from buying a new screen prematurely.

To mend a small hole in a fiberglass screen, cut a patch from a piece of fiberglass screening material slightly larger than the hole. Apply a fast-drying, clear glue to the edges of the patch. Align the patch over the hole and allow it dry.

To fix a hole in an aluminum screen, start by trimming any stray strands of aluminum sticking out from the hole. Cut a patch from a piece of aluminum screening material that is 1/2 in. larger on all sides than the size of the hole. Use a nail to pick out two or three strands from each corner of the patch and bend them at a right angle so that when you align the patch with the screen, the strands poke through the screen. Use a straight edge tool to bend the strands so they lay flat against the surface, adhering the patch to the screen.

Replacing a Window Screen

If the holes are large, there is a tear in the screen or the screen is sagging from its frame, replace the whole thing. Start by removing the old spline, the round or flat tubing that holds the screen in place in its frame. Then, lift out the screen.

Lay the replacement screening material over the frame. Trim it so that there is 1 in. overlapping on all sides. You will need a spline tool to proceed with an aluminum replacement screen. These cost only a few dollars at at hardware or home improvement store. The tool has one concave and one convex end.

Use the convex end of the spline tool to press the edges of the aluminum screening material into the channels of the frame, starting in the middle of each side and moving toward the corners. Since the edge of the spline tool will not roll all the way into the corners, use a small screwdriver to press in the corners. This will create a shallow trough for the spline to fit into. For fiberglass screens, you will not need to press the screening material into the channel since it will not retain its shape.

Next, trim a piece of spline to the length of the top edge of the frame. Use the concave edge of the spline tool to press the spline firmly into the channel, holding the screening material in place. Repeat on each side, finishing at the bottom and pulling the screen taut. Finally, use a utility knife to trim the excess screening material on all sides. Be careful to point the blade away from screen when doing so to avoid slashing your newly replaced screen.

Changing a window screen is an economical DIY project. You can prevent nuisances from undetected screen tears by being proactive about screen replacement. Putting in new screens every year before the spring when windows are open more often can be a day project that allows your family to get a little fresh air worry-free.

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