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Guide To Fixing a Window Screen

Updated Jan 9, 2023

Updated Jan 9, 2023

Home > Windows > Guide To Fixing a Window Screen

A puncture or tear in a window screen defeats its purpose and can prevent you from enjoying nice, fresh air in your home. In addition to being unsightly, damaged window screens can allow bugs and debris into your home, making it unappealing to open your windows for a nice breeze. 

Window screening can be delicate and damage easily. Though screens can be replaced entirely, fixing them yourself is straightforward, a great way to save some money, and only requires a few tools. Knowing how to fix a window screen will help ensure that you can continue to appreciate a cross-breeze worry-free.

Screen Replacement Material

roll of window screen texture close-up
Image Source: Canva

Before fixing a window screen, you’ll need to decide what screening material to use. From budget-friendly to energy-efficient screens, there are a few types available.

Aluminum

Aluminum screening is more durable and stronger than most other materials. It’s not susceptible to sagging over time like fiberglass screen mesh. However, it can easily dent or wrinkle when you’re installing it. Because the metal screen is less pliable than other screen mesh, it can be difficult to install for a first-timer — if you make a mistake, it’s there to stay.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass screen mesh comes in many options and is an extremely economical choice for rescreening a window on a budget. Its flexibility also makes it a great option for DIY homeowners performing their first screen repairs. The material is forgiving and can be removed and reinstalled if you make an error during installation. 

Fiberglass screening comes in a variety of strengths. There are types with thicker mesh strands that offer more durability. The screening comes with various options for mesh size. If you live in an area with lots of smaller insects like gnats, you can choose a small mesh size that will prevent the insects from entering your home.

Pet Specific

Pet screening is designed to withstand potential damage from cats and dogs. Most pet screening is tear and puncture-resistant. If you’re fixing a window screen and have pets, or the screen is located where tears or punctures are likely, a heavy-duty pet screen is a great choice.

Solar Screens

You may want to add an extra layer of UV protection with solar screens in high-sunlight areas. Solar screens protect elements in your house from potential sun damage and can also help increase energy efficiency by keeping your house cooler than regular window screening would. 

Once you’ve determined the type of screening you’d like to use, you’ll need to purchase it. Though many windows are standard, make sure you’ve measured the screen size you’ll be replacing. Generally, window screening comes in rolls of a predetermined size. Save yourself the frustration of trips back and forth to the hardware store by measuring for the size you need before you purchase material.

What You’ll Need

You may need to buy a few screen-specific tools when you purchase screening. Below, we’ve listed all the tools you need to repair a window screen.

  • Awl
  • Brick
  • Cordless drill
  • Scissors
  • Screen
  • Spline
  • Spline roller tool
  • Utility knife
  • Wooden stop block
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver

Steps To Replace Your Window Screen

window screen inside close-up
Image Source: Canva

We’ve researched the best methods for window screen repair and have come up with the following steps. Whether you’ve got a small hole or the entire screen is torn, this guide is for you.

1. Remove the old spline. 

Using an awl or flathead screwdriver, gently remove the old spline by prying it out. Starting in one area, place the tip of the awl below the spline, and pry upwards to loosen it. Remove all spline sections in the frame and remove the old screen.

*Pro tip* Before throwing the old spline away, you can cut a small section to take to the store and use it as a reference to determine the diameter you need for the replacement spline. Most spline packaging has an illustration of the spline diameter — hold up the old spline to the illustration to compare and find the correct size.

2. Prepare your work surface.

Place the frame of the screen you’re replacing face down on a flat surface. Next, secure two stop blocks to the work surface on the inside edge of the long sides of the screen frame. Doing so will prevent the frame from bowing and losing its shape when you apply pressure to install the new screening material.

3. Position and cut the new screen.

Lay the new screen over the frame so that it overlaps the frame by about three-fourths of an inch in every direction. Cut the material from the roll of screen and gently lay it back over the frame. Next, cut each corner of the new section of the screen at a 45-degree angle, just slightly outside of the spline groove on the frame. Doing this will help prevent bunching in the corners when you insert the screen into the spline groove.

4. Insert the screen into the spline grooves.

Starting in one corner, place the new spline on top of the new screen. Then, use the rolling tool to push the spline and screen into the groove of the window screen frame. Follow this process around the entire edge of the frame. Small wrinkles may appear — they should tighten up as you move around the frame and make your way back to the starting corner. If big wrinkles or bulges appear, you may need to remove the spline and screen and start over.

*Pro tip* Getting the right tension in your screen can be especially difficult on a large window frame or screen door. If it’s too loose, it will sag. If it’s too tight, it could pull an aluminum window frame out of shape and cause bowing. Install two sides of the screen, place a brick in the middle of the screen, install the remaining sides, and remove the brick. You’ll be left with a properly stretched screen.

5. Trim any excess screening material.

You’ll likely end up with some excess material along the edges of the frame that needs to be trimmed down. Make sure you use an extremely sharp utility knife and cut towards the outside of the frame on top of the spline. A sharp blade is important, as a dull blade can pull and tear the screen.

Repair vs. Replace

If you don’t think of yourself as handy, a do-it-yourself project like fixing a window screen can be intimidating. It’s always an option to buy a new screen and frame, though it will cost you. Depending on the type of window, replacing a bent, broken, or torn window screen can cost anywhere between $50 and $150. Most rolls of screen cost about $20.

Though you can always hire a professional window installer to replace a window screen, repairing a window screen is a pretty straightforward task that can save you some serious cash. 

Final Thoughts

Fixing a window screen can be done fairly quickly and easily, and we’d recommend it as a beginner’s DIY project. With a few simple tools and some time, you can save money and get back to enjoying the fresh air in a bug-free environment.

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