Repairing the Window Screens

Back Porch

A Whole New Skill!

As the weather warmed up and we opened our windows to let in the fresh air, we noticed that the back porch windows were worn out and damaged.  I've always heard that replacing a window screen is a relatively simple DIY project so I thought... why not give it a try?  Let's get into it!

The Problem

Nothing lasts forever...including screen windows.  In this case, all six of the windows on the back porch had damage to their screens.  I first noticed a little damage a couple years ago, but thought little of it because the damage was minimal and limited to two or three windows.

But, the last couple years seemed to bring on some age (ugh - how true).  The screens were made of fiberglass, so once a bit of damage occurred, it seems like it accelerated.

The damaged areas almost made me think it was the work of a squirrel or mouse but, really - I have no idea what caused it.  I installed these windows way back in 2010, so the windows (and the screens - go figure) are 14 years old, at the time of this writing - not a bad lifespan for some fiberglass screens!  Well - now was the time to get them back in shape.

Takin' 'em Out 

The obvious first step in this project was to remove the old screens from the window frames. They're held in place by springs on one side,  and a simple pull toward the springs and the screen popped right out.  

Takin' 'em Apart

Removing the old screens was a piece of cake.  First, the old splines had to be pried out at one end, then it just pulled out all the way around.

My favorite journey is looking out the window. - Edward Gorey

After the first window I learned that if I started pulling the screen from a corner at a steady rate (rather than just ripping at it, the screen came out very cleanly, requiring almost no cleaning of the channel.

The Tools and Materials 

There's really not a lot of tools or materials needed to replace window screens.  All you need is the screen material, which I decided would be the old fashioned silver aluminum, and the spline which is the rubber tubing that holds the screen material in the frame.

And the tools were few too, although I experimented with a couple options with the first two windows. 

  • Scissors - I think this is self explanatory!
  • Flathead screwdriver (three different sizes) - to start the pulling of the old spline, tucking new spline into the corners, and general purpose use
  • Spline roller - has a rolling wheel with two different types of edges.  The convex edge presses the screen mesh into the window frame, and the concave edge pushes the splines in place.
  • Linoleum knife - to trim the excess screen after the spline's installed

That's really all it took, although I used spring clamps to hold the mesh to the frame and the frame to the table, making it a much easier one man job. I just didn't get any pictures of that!

The Process

I hate to say the process of replacing screens is simple, but it kinda is!  I mean - if I can figure it out....

Step 1: Tape the corners together.  My screen frames are modular so the framing and the corners just separate when there's no pressure on them. A little painter's tape just makes it easier to get things started. 

Step 2: Lay out and trim the new screen.  I used a pair of inherited scissors I restored to cut the new screen to the correct size,  with a little extra material around the edges to ensure a snug fit.  

Step 3: Install the New Screen. Starting at one corner, I used the spline roller to push the spline into the frame channels.  This was the hardest part of the job, and I'll write this for you and for future me... go slow and be intentional with this step.  One slip can make a mess of the screen material... at least if it's aluminum it can. (This next picture isn't mine, I just didn't get a shot of me rolling the spline into place).

Step 4: Trim the edges.  After the spline was in, I used my linoleum knife to trim the excess material from the edges of the screen.

Step 5: Replace the weather stripping.  There's a length of weather stripping that goes at the top face of the screen frame.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of it, but I think it's pretty self-explanatory and if you look at this next picture if it's actually on the opposite side of the frame.

Putting 'em Back In

And, in what seems like a blink of an eye, this little project was done! All the screens snapped right back in the place, fitting as perfectly as ever so - I didn't mess anything up too badly and that's always a plus!

There's really no way for me to really show you this, but the new bright aluminum screens give a totally different look to the back porch than the old fiberglass screens.  It's not that the fiberglass screens weren't nice or anything, but these aluminum screens just have such a nice old-fashioned bright look to them and I've absolutely fallen in love with them!

Just a quick tally... six windows, about eight hours (I know,  I know) and less than $50.  Well worth the jingle.

Hey,  thanks for stopping by - see ya' next time!

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