Let in the breeze and keep bugs out with our step-by-step instructions for building a screen porch. We'll show you how to install window screens using a simple track system. 

By Heidi Palkovic and Joseph Wanek
Updated December 30, 2020
Richard Leo Johnson

A screen porch offers three-season outdoor living, not to mention relaxing breezes, a handy area for casual entertaining, and, best of all, no bugs. If you're planning on building a screened-in porch, or just need to fix a window, follow our step-by-step tutorial for installing a screen system. This easy method requires only a few power tools and features a handy track system. Depending on the size of your window or porch, this is one outdoor project you can cross off your list in just a weekend.

  • Working time 2 hrs
  • Start to finish 2 hrs
  • Difficulty Kind of Easy
  • Involves Cutting, Drilling
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What you need

Tools
Materials
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How to do it

Credit: Jason Donnelly
Credit: Jason Donnelly
Credit: Jason Donnelly
Step 1

Install Screws

Using a straightedge, draw a line through the center of the opening to be screened. Measure and mark the placement for the screw clips ($29 for 100, The Home Depot), about 8-10 inches apart along the line, starting and ending 2 inches from each corner. Drill a pilot hole at each mark. Insert a screw clip into each hole; do not overtighten. Use a small channel piece (we used the Screen Tight track system) to properly adjust the height of each screw clip so the channel slides easily over the screw without being too loose. Repeat on all four sides of your window.

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Step 2

Install Channel Pieces

Cut channel pieces ($10 for 8 feet, The Home Depot) to fit the top and bottom of the opening using a chop saw. Install the pieces by sliding the end of a channel piece over an end screw, then tap the rest of the channel onto the screw clips with a rubber mallet. After the top and bottom channels are installed, measure, cut, and install the side channels in the same manner.

Step 3

Fasten Screen to Tracks

Cut a piece of fiberglass screen a few inches larger than the opening. Starting at the top of the opening, lay the screen across the top channel track. Using a roller knife, evenly push the spline ($21 for 300 feet, The Home Depot) into the top track channel groove, fastening the screen into the groove as you go. Continue pushing the spline into one side track, then repeat on the opposite side, ensuring that the screen remains straight as you work. Insert the spline into the bottom channel track last.

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Step 4

Trim Porch Screen

If needed, remove the spline and adjust the screen as needed. Trim excess screen mesh flush along each edge using a utility knife.

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