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Repairing and Replacing Screens

You're settling into your new home when you notice that the window screens - and even the screened doors - are a little dingy. A few are sagging. One or two are even torn. In one afternoon, you can fix up these damaged screens.

Screens are easy and inexpensive to fix with a few simple tools. And the end result can really make your home sparkle like new.

Cleaning a Screen

When old screens look unattractive, try cleaning them before you go to the trouble of repairing or replacing them. Often a gentle once-over with a wire brush and vacuum cleaner can make a screen look almost new.

Repairing a Screen

Know the Material. Screens are usually made of metal, fiberglass or plastic. Metal screens can be aluminum, bronze or copper. Always replace metal screens with the same metal as the frame.

Fiberglass or plastic screens are well suited to wood frames because they don't stain the wood.

Assess the Damage. You can repair tears in two different ways.

  • Seal the Tear - Holes that are 1/4" in diameter or smaller can be sealed with a drop of fast-drying household cement. For a slightly larger hole, weave a few loose strands of wire into the screen before applying the cement.
  • Patch the Tear - The patch should be made of the same or similar material as the screen.
  • Remove the screen from the window, place it on a flat surface, and clean thoroughly.
  • Using tin snips, cut a square patch from scrap screening 2" inches larger than the hole. This will give you an edge to hold during installation. Trim the excess after the patch is in place.
  • Remove about 1/2" of cross-threads from each side.
  • Use an awl or other pointed tool to flatten wires into place.
  • Bend the wires around the hole or tear so that they are at a 90-degree angle to the patch and push them through the screen.
  • Press all wires flat.
  • Coat both sides of the screen with spray varnish, paint, or enamel. Let it dry completely.

Installation for Spline and Screen Applications

  • Loosen and lift moulding with a putty knife.
  • Pry the edge of the spline loose from the channel.
  • Lift the damaged screen from the frame, and clean both frame and channel.
  • Using tin snips, cut a piece of new screen. Make your new cut 2” wider and 2” longer than the previous screen.
  • Center the new screen on the frame.
  • Push the screen into one side of the channel using the convex wheel of a screening tool.
  • Cut a piece of spline that's 6" longer than the opening's perimeter. Lay the spline on top of the screen, and push it into the channel with the concave wheel.
  • Cut off any excess spline with a utility knife. To avoid wrinkles in the screen, maintain tension as you secure the spline.
  • Reinstall molding.

Installation for Wood-Framed Applications

  • Remove molding, and carefully remove nails or staples with a screwdriver.
  • Remove the previous screen.
  • Using tin snips, cut a piece of new screen 3" wider and 3" taller than the previous screen, and square the screen with two adjacent sides of the opening.
  • Paint any bare wood on the frame.
  • Center the new screen on the frame.
  • Staple the new screen in place, pulling it taut while working. To prevent your new screen from sagging, bow or arch the frame during installation.
  • Reattach molding with brads or staples, and trim excess screen with a utility knife.
  • Repaint the frame if needed.

Your new screens are sure to spruce up your new home's exterior. Add some more sparkle with clean gutters. Find more tips and ideas for outdoor improvements and quick repairs in our Get Settled section.

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