Build a screen using the products that fit your lifestyle and will enhance your home. These step-by-step instructions will teach you how to assemble a screen frame for your window.
Use this checklist when you go to the store and purchase your items.
Aluminum: Durable, long-lasting, for all screen projects, in bright or charcoal finish
Fiberglass: Easy to install, for all screen projects, in gray or charcoal finish
Clear Advantage: Greater visibility and airflow than standard screen, least noticeable, greatest curb appeal
Pool and Patio: Stronger fiberglass screening for larger openings like porches
Solar Screen: Blocks the sun’s heat and glare, saves on air conditioning cost, prevents upholstery and carpet from fading
Pet D-Fence: Extra strong, resists damage by household pets
If you don't have an existing screen frame, you'll need to build a new one. To build the frame, you’ll need four aluminum frame pieces, or you can purchase a screen frame kit. If you purchase a screen frame kit, skip the next two steps of these instructions.
A flexible cord, called spline, holds the screen in place when rolled into the groove (channel) of the screen frame with a screen tool. It's available in gray and black in a number of different diameters because there are a variety of different screening material thicknesses and screen frame groove widths. Black is used with charcoal fiberglass and aluminum. Gray is used with bright aluminum and gray fiberglass. The best way to ensure correct spline sizing with an existing frame is to bring a sample of your old spline and match it.
To remove existing spline, lay the screen frame flat with the spline side up, on a flat work surface. Use a flat-head screwdriver to remove the old spline and screen.
Use the following estimates to help you determine what size spline your screen needs.
.125 in. (.31 cm) diameter: Use with New York Wire frames and the following screen materials: Aluminum, Pet D-Fence, Solar
.140 in. (.35 cm) diameter: Use with New York Wire frames and the following screen materials: Fiberglass, No See Um, Clear Advantage, Pool & Patio
.160 in. (.41 cm) diameter: Use with aluminum frame pieces with 7/16-in. grooves
.175 in. (.44 cm), .190 in. (.48 cm) and .220 in. (.56 cm) diameter: Use in older homes and in screen frames with larger spline grooves
For a firmer hold, purchase spline in the next-largest diameter. If you purchase spline that's slightly too large, simply hold one end and pull gently to stretch the spline thinner as you roll it into the channel. The spline will return to its original shape for greater holding power.
To assemble your frame, you’ll need four screen corners that slide into the aluminum frame pieces to hold them together at the corners.
To hold your screen frame in the window frame, you may need retention hardware, such as top-tension springs, nylon turn buttons, screen frame hangers or wire loop and latch. If in doubt, purchase top-tension springs, as they're easiest to install while building your screen frame and don't require drilling into your window frame.
Measure to cut the screen frame pieces to size. Measure the existing screen or location where the screen will be placed. Subtract 1 1/2 inches from the height and width to allow for screen corners. For example, if you want a 24-inch-wide-by36-inch-long frame, cut the lineals to 22 1/2 inches and 34 1/2 inches. If using top-tension springs, subtract an additional 1/8 inch from the length of the vertical pieces.
Cut and assemble the frame. Mark the screen frame pieces for cutting. Square-cut the frame pieces carefully using a hacksaw. Insert the screen corners into the longer frame pieces. If top-tension springs are used, insert them into the short frame piece at the top, and then slide the other corner from the long-side pieces into place. Attach the short bottom piece to the finish frame.
Lay the screening over the frame. Lay the frame down with the channel side up. Tape the center of each outside edge of the frame to your work surface to secure it. Lay the screening over the frame.
Cut the screening to size. Using scissors or a utility knife, cut the screening 1 inch larger and wider than the frame so that the screen material overlaps the channel a 1⁄2 inch on all sides. Cut the corners of the screen material down the center to create 45-degree angled pieces that will overlap at the frame corners to create a neater corner. If using pull tabs, insert into the frame spline channel at the bottom of the frame opposite the tension springs.
Roll the spline into the frame with the screen tool. If using aluminum, solar or pet screening, use the round end of the spline tool to roll the screening into the spline channel. This causes the screening to conform to the shape of the channel and will make it much easier to roll the spline into place.
Starting at the corner and using the grooved end of the spline tool, roll the spline into the channel on top of the screen to hold the screen in place. Hold the screen material straight and taut for the best finished appearance.
Trim excess screen. When all four sides are completed, trim the excess screening with a utility knife by using the top of the spline as a cutting guide and the outside of the spline channel as the cutting surface.
*Time and Cost are estimated.