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Replace or Upgrade a Window Screen

Learn how to replace a screen and assemble a screen frame for your window using the products that fit your lifestyle and will enhance your home.

Man installing a screen.

Tools & Materials

Product costs, availability and item numbers may vary online or by market.

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Select a Screen Type

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.

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Select a Screen Frame

If you have an existing frame, you'll need to replace the spline too. If you don't have an existing screen frame, you'll need to build a new one.

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Existing Frame

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. 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 is to bring a sample of your old spline and match it.

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.

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Step 1

Lay the screen frame flat with the spline side up, on a flat work surface.

Step 2

Use a flat-head screwdriver to remove the old spline and screen.

New Frame

Build a new window frame.

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.

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Step 1

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 by 36-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.

Step 2

Mark the screen frame pieces for cutting and square-cut the frame pieces carefully using a hacksaw.

Step 3

Mark the screen frame pieces for cutting and square-cut the frame pieces carefully using a hacksaw.

Install Screening

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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 by 1⁄2 an 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.

Step 3

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 channels. 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.

Step 4

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.