Window screens suffer from wear and weather. Commonly, someone may push against the screen and tear it or dislodge it from the screen frame. So, successfully changing a window screen is a valuable skill a do-it-yourselfer can easily learn.
Screen material comes in a variety of meshes. You can purchase screening in aluminum, steel, or fiberglass in different meshes. The mesh is the number of strands per inch that form the screen. The smaller the mesh, the smaller the insects it will keep out, like gnats or no-see-ums.
Removing the old screen
- Place the screen frame on a solid surface like a table or floor.
- Using an awl or small flat blade screwdriver, pick out the end of the rubber or vinyl spline in the groove of the frame.
- Grasp the spline end with a pair of pliers and pull it slowly out of its groove.
- Once the spline is removed, pull the screen material free of the groove.
- Make sure the frame is in good shape and not bent or misformed.
Installing the new screen material
- Cut the screen material larger than the frame opening. Do not try to cut the screen too close to the original size. You will trim it later.
- Lay the screen over the frame, making sure it is centered and that the mesh runs square with the frame.
- You may need to purchase new spline material if the old spline is broken or deteriorated. If so, make certain that you have the proper diameter spline for the groove in your frame.
- Using a spline tool, gently press the screen material down into the groove of the frame.
- Insert the end of the spline into the groove at one corner of the frame and press it into place with a flat bladed screwdriver.
- Keep the spline from twisting as you work it into the groove with the spline tool, following the groove around the frame.
- When you reach the corner where you started installing the spline, trim the spline with a razor knife and press the loose end into the groove with a flat bladed screwdriver.
- Now, trim the excess screen material with a sharp razor knife. Cut the screen on the outside edge of the groove just above the spline.
If you try to stretch the screen material as you press the spline into the groove, you may distort the frame and then it will not fit into the window properly.
To keep this from happening, do not allow the spline to twist as you install it. Let the screen material lay naturally without attempting to stretch it.
You can also cut the spline into two or more pieces and install it from one corner of the screen frame, then work from the opposite corner. This will help to keep the screen stretched reasonably firmly and yet not distort the frame.
Wet the spline with water to help it go into the groove more easily.
Work the spline into the groove gently. If necessary, go over the spline multiple times with the spline tool to make sure it is firmly seated. Trying to force the spline into the groove in one pass may cause you to slip with the tool and damage the screen.
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