Fixing torn window screens

Don't let the Bugs Bite!

by Murray Anderson

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We can finally see the end of winter coming. For many of us, spring means longer days, sunshine, warmer weather, and bugs. These guys can almost make you wish for the cold weather to come back, particularly if your screens have developed holes and gaps as part of their aging process. You have a couple of options to fix this problem. You can take the screen off the window, load it into the back of the car and head for the local hardware store where they will fix it for you (for somewhere between $20 and $50). Or, you can fix it yourself.

Fixing screens is not a difficult job. You can do it with the tools you likely have around the house. Scissors, a screwdriver and a trimming/utility knife are the basic tools necessary. Of course, you will need the screening material that can be made of either fiberglass or aluminum. You will also be best to get a screen/spline roller. Both the screening and the screen roller are available at your local hardware store, building supply store or even Wal-Mart. These items can be bought individually, but probably the best way to get started is to buy a screen repair kit that will cost you about $15. It will contain your screening material (enough for a couple of windows), plus rubber spline and a functional (and reusable) screen roller.

Your most difficult job will be to find a large, clear, flat surface on which you can work after you remove the screen from the window. Once you have found that clear flat surface (I used the kitchen table), set the screen frame down flat and remove the rubber spline from around the edge of the frame. You should start at a corner, and you may have to use a screwdriver to lift at the starting point. The rubber spline will have been forced down into a groove in the surface of the window frame (held in place by pressure, no glue), and after you remove it, the old screen will just lift off. You can throw the old spline and screen away; their job is done.

Next, lay the new screening over the window frame, and cut the screening about an inch larger than the outside of the window frame. After cutting, be sure the screening is centered over the window frame and has an equal overlap on all sides. Begin fastening the screen to the frame at a corner, using the roller to force the new spline down into the groove in the window frame. Hold the roller tilted to the outside of the window frame and force the spline well down into the groove as you move around the window. When you reach a corner, use the screwdriver to push the spline (gently but firmly) into the groove as you go around the corner. Once around the corner, go back to using the roller for the long straight-aways. Follow this process all around the window frame, and when you get back to where you began, cut the spline with your scissors and tuck the end tightly into the groove with your screwdriver. Work slowly. Be sure that the spline is bottomed into the groove to ensure a strong joint.

That's it. All that's left is to trim the excess screening from the edge with your utility knife. Angle the knife away from the new window screen to avoid cutting it by accident. You have just rescreened your first window. Now put the repaired screen back into the window and admire your handiwork.

The process is virtually the same for patio door screens. They are just larger, and because they are bigger, they are a little more awkward to work with.

Now that your screens are once again keeping the bugs out, you can really enjoy the spring weather, and even better, think about all the money you saved.

Related Links: - how to fix storm doors and window screens.

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