Replacing Your Window Screens: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

Screens age quickly, but they’re super easy to replace. So grab your spline tool and get to work!

By Tina Jepson

 

Replacing window screens is an easy and affordable DIY home project. Sure, figuring how to put the first few screens together takes a bit of time. But once you get the hang of it, you can easily plow through an entire home’s worth of window screens in just a few hours.

 

So, why would you need to replace your window screens? There are many reasons. Last summer, dozens of grasshoppers decided to call our backyard “home” and they happened to take a liking to our old, brittle screens. By the end of the summer, the grasshoppers had eaten significant holes on almost every single one of our screens. The elements can also take a toll on screens. Wind, rain, hail — it can all cause irreparable damage.

 

And damaged window screens are definitely not good for both aesthetics and safety. To be on the safe side, it’s always best to have a strong, clean, and taut screen.

 

Are you ready to replace your screens? You can definitely do it yourself!

 

Check out this step-by-step tutorial on how to replace a window screen.

 

Materials

Gather the following:

  • A roll of screen mesh (100 feet for $35)

 

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  • Screen spline (100 feet for $10)

 

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  • Your old window screens with frames

 

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  • Spline tool ($5)

 

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  • Utility knife

 

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  • Optional: Flathead screwdriver

 

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Keep in mind that your job will be much easier if you work on a strong, solid surface such as a kitchen or work table.

 

Replacing Your Window Screens: Step-by-Step

  1. Start by removing the spline from the original screen. If it doesn’t detach from the frame easily, use a flathead screwdriver to pry it up at one end. Then, work your way around the entire perimeter of the screen, removing the entire spline.

 

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  1. Since the spline is what secures the screen to the frame, you can now lift and remove the screen.

 

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  1. If your window screen hasn’t been cleaned in a while or it’s on the older-side, it probably needs a deep scrub. Mix up a 50:50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and water. Using a cotton ball, clean the entire frame inside and out.
  2. Next, cut a piece of screen mesh an inch or so wider than your screen and place it on top of the frame.

 

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  1. Beginning at one corner of the frame, secure the spline to the frame using your spline tool. The spline should fit snugly into the screen frame’s groove. During this step, a spline tool is essential. Don’t be tempted to try a homemade tool (no, a pizza cutter isn’t going to work) as you’re liable to wreck your screen mesh in the process.

 

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  1. Once you get to a frame corner, use a flathead screwdriver or a spline tool to gently push the spline into the groove. If you used a screwdriver, transition back to the spline tool as you work in a straight line around the entire perimeter.

 

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  1. Work your way around the frame one additional time with the spline tool as an added precaution.
  2. Now it’s time to trim away the excess screen. Using a utility knife, cut just above the spline along the entire screen perimeter.

 

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  1. Congratulations! You have a fresh, new screen.

 

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Insider tip: It’s common for the screen frame to move, which makes inserting the spline difficult, to say the least. If you don’t have a partner to hold down the frame, try using duct tape to secure each side of the frame to a solid working surface.

 

How to Install a Window Screen

To reinstall your window screen, push the metal screen tabs into the opening on the outside of your window. The tabs should seamlessly snap into place. Then pivot your entire screen to secure the bottom in place.

 

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And while you’re at it, take a moment to clean the outside of your window before snapping that screen into place. You’ll thank yourself for it later on.

 

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As you can see, window screen replacement is one of most affordable, easiest ways to perform a home upgrade. In just a day’s time, you’ll be enjoying new-looking screens at a fraction of what a professional fix would cost.

 

Images used with permission, courtesy of Tina Jepson, Przemysław Kozieł, www.shutterstock.com, and www.dreamstime.com

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