How to Repair a Window Screen

If there's a hole anywhere in a screen, a mosquito will find it .

Quick fixes for small holes

. . and then you! Short of replacing a damaged window screen entirely, you can try several quick fixes that will keep the little buggers out until you have time for a proper repair. Stores offer rescreening services, but you can easily do it yourself and save some money.

Flatten any wires that stick up around the hole and realign the screen wires as best you can with any small pointed tool, such as an awl, nail, needle or tiny screwdriver. Spread clear silicone caulk or epoxy adhesive over the tear.

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To make a patch, cut a small square of screening with shears; remove three or four strands of wire from each side. Place the patch on a board so the ends of the wires overhang, and bend them down to a 90-degree angle. Repeat for all sides. Place the patch upside down on a hard surface. Remove the screen sash and lay the damaged area of the screen over the patch. Press down on the screen so the bent wires project through, and bend the wires over with a wood block (see A).

Use wire strands removed from a piece of screening to "darn" between the sound strands and across the hole. (No needle is required; your fingers will do the job.) Turn the screen over after each "stitch" to bend the wire flat.

Replacing a screen installed in splines

Remove the screen sash.

Use an awl or nail point to pry out one end of the vinyl spline that holds the screen in the sash's channels. Slowly pull out the spline and then the screen.

For large or flimsy screen frames, tack some 1/4-inch (6-mm) plywood stops into your workbench so you have one centered on each of the frame's inside edges when you place the screen over the stops. This prevents distortion of the sash as you roll in the screening.

Lay new screening over the sash so it overlaps all sides by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) and cut it with shears.

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If you are using aluminum screening, roll the screen into the channel on one side of the sash using the convex wheel of a screen roller (see B). Press against the center of the screen to keep it from shifting. To avoid cutting the screen, roll lightly at first, and then more firmly to press in the screen in stages. Roll in the spline (see step 6) before rolling in more screening. If you are using fiberglass screening, skip step 6 and roll in the screen and spline simultaneously.

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Starting about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in from a corner, press the spline into place with your fingers as you roll it into the channel with the concave side of the roller (see C). Roll lightly at first to avoid stretching the spline and to maintain control. For fiberglass screening, roll the screen and spline into the channel at the same time.

As the spline approaches each corner, use shears to make a diagonal relief cut from the outside corner of the overlapping screening to the inside corner of the sash.

Work your way around the screen frame. As you roll one side, hold the opposite side of the screen slightly taut.

Use the tip of a screwdriver to press in the spline at each corner (the round roller can't roll right up to the inside corners).

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Cut off excess screen with a sharp utility knife when the spline is all in (see D). To avoid accidentally cutting the screen, angle the blade toward the outside of the frame; cut slowly and steadily.

Reinstall the screen sash.

Things You Will Need

  • 1/4-inch (6-mm) Plywood Stops
  • Fiberglass Or Aluminum Screening
  • Vinyl Spline
  • Screen Roller
  • Shears
  • Utility Knife And New Blades
  • Awl Or Nail
  • Board
  • Clear Silicone Caulk Or Epoxy Adhesive
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Small Pointed Tool
  • Wood Block

Tips

  • You may save money in the long run by buying a roll of screening. The unit cost is less, and you'll avoid another trip to the store if you accidentally tear the screen during installation or future repairs.
  • Choose screening material that matches the type (aluminum or fiberglass) and color of your existing screens.
  • Bring a sample of the old spline (or better yet, the screen frame itself) with you when you go to purchase materials. Spline diameters vary and sizing is critical.
  • If you are repairing more than one screen, do the larger ones first. Then if you accidentally cut the screen during installation, you can use the damaged piece for a smaller screen.
  • Make sure the screening's horizontal and vertical patterns align correctly with the frame.

Warnings

  • If you pull the screen too tight when rolling in the screen or spline, you may cut the screening or distort the frame.
  • When cutting off excess screening, hold the frame securely with your other hand but keep it a safe distance from the blade.