How to Replace a Window Screen

Follow along as we explain your repair and replacement options when it comes to window screens.

The last line of defense between your interiors and pesky insects, airborne dirt, and flying debris, window screens are a necessity in most locations. They invite in sunlight and breezes while keeping unwanted elements outside.

Window screens, also known as insect screens, are created by stretching a mesh material across a metal or wooden frame; oftentimes the screening is held in place with flexible cord called spline that fits tightly into a groove around the frame's perimeter. Older homes may have wood-frame window screens that replace storm-window counterparts come spring; newer homes may be equipped with more permanent vertically sliding storm/screen track windows.

If the frame and track are in good shape and just the screen material needs repaired, even novice do-it-yourselfers can patch holes and replace damaged screening. Don't feel like tackling the tasks? Bring the window screen to your local hardware store and ask the staff to replace the screening. Take it in as early in the season as possible so you're at the head of the screen-replacement line.

Whether you're refurbishing existing window screens or buying new, review the different types of screening and frames available to find the combination that best fits your home and lifestyle.

  • Start to Finish 2 Hours
  • Difficulty         Projects Kind of Easy
  • Involves Driving Staples

What you need

Tools

  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
  • Putty knife
  • Tin snips
  • Chisel
  • Flat pry bar
  • Drill
  • Pliers
  • Stapler

Materials

  • Screening and glass as needed
  • Exterior wood glue or polyurethane glue
  • Dowels
  • Finishing nails
  • Staples

How to do it

Step 1 Pick the Perfect Material

There is an array of screen types, many of which are manufactured to handle specific situations. When selecting a replacement, keep things simple by matching your existing window screen. If you're handy and your screen frame is simple, you can use the existing frame as a template and build a new frame from metal or wooden strips or a window-screen frame kit. Here's a look at the most common types of screening.

Aluminum and fiberglass screening are good choices for most window screens. Both materials are durable, easy to work with, and available in a light or charcoal finish.

Clear Advantage screening is a nearly invisible fiberglass mesh that amplifies light and airflow; it's available in a charcoal finish.

Pool and patio screening is an extra-sturdy fiberglass mesh that works well for porches with large openings or large windows; it's available in a silver-gray or charcoal finish.

Solar screening acts as an insect screen while blocking 65 percent or more of the sun's heat and glare; it's available in a silver-gray, gray, or charcoal finish.

Pet screening is up to seven times stronger than traditional insect screens and stands up to jumping pets and scratching paws; it's available in black and gray.

Step 2 Remove Molding

Use a putty knife, then a flat pry bar to remove the screen molding. If you work carefully you can often do this without breaking the molding.

Step 3 Clamp and Bow Frame

Place the window on a table or a pair of sawhorses with 2x4s across them. Slip 2x2s under each end and clamp or weigh down the middle so the frame is bowed.

Step 4 Cut Screening

Use tin snips to cut screening about 2 inches wider and longer than the frame. Place the piece on top of the frame. Working from the center toward the ends, staple the screening to the wood, pulling it taut as you go.

Step 5 Finish and Trim

Remove the clamps or weights. When the frame straightens, the screening will be pulled taut. Replace the screen molding or install new molding. Drive nails through new holes or drive larger nails through the old holes. Trim excess screen.

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