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How to Install a Screen Tightly

Robert Mann

Window screens eventually become slack and deteriorate due to weather and abuse. When stretched in the frame properly, screening allows you to enjoy seasonal changes, and to listen and watch the outdoors without distortion or flying insects. Tightening a screen for a window is typically a do-it-yourself project and maintains the finished look you want in a room.

See beauty without distraction.
  1. Take the screen off the window frame, or remove from the door opening. Place completely flat on a floorspace with room to move around it. Find the tail end of the spline, the rope-like material holding the screen to the frame, and pull out. Inspect the screen and spline, if either are damaged or defective, get proper sized replacement material.

  2. Measure the reused or new spline so it fits completely around the frame with several inches of overlap at the beginning and end. This overlap when tucked into the channel will lock the spline into place. By hand, press it lightly into the channel. Once you have the right length, plus extra spline, gently pull it out and lay it aside.

  3. Center the screen across the frame with a small amount of screen going beyond the spline channel. For new screens, cut to size with scissors or a utility knife leaving an additional 1 inch of material past where the spline will go.

  4. Start laying the spline at the bottom of the frame at least 3 inches away from a corner. Check that the screen has not moved and is still centered on the frame with material on both sides of the frame channel. Press the spline into the channel to secure the screen into place underneath it. Use the spline roller or screwdriver to seat the first few inches of spline deep into the channel. When you eventually finish working around the the frame, you will need this extra space to place the overlapping spline into the channel, which locks the spline into place.

  5. Place the spline roller over the spline and continue to press the spline into the channel as you work around the frame. The spline roller works best with a back and forth motion. Any spline that rises above the channel, pull out and reset using the roller. With your other hand pull the screen fabric tight and keep it straight on the frame as you roll down the spline.

  6. Roll the last few inches of spline over the top of the line already in the channel after you have worked all the way around the frame. Carefully cut away excess fabric with the utility knife.