How to Replace a Window Screen: Easy and Quick DIY Project

You’re walking around your home, and you notice that some of your window screens have been torn. It could be from random twigs or rocks that caused it.

Do you hire someone to fix it? Or maybe you can do it yourself. After thinking about it, DIY seems like the way to go!

Replacing a window screen is a fun and easy DIY project to that you can do yourself at home, without any supervision from a professional.

It’s affordable, and you probably have ALL of the tools needed already sitting in your garage. If not, they’re quite affordable to buy from your local home improvement store.

In this article, we’ll be going over the entire process of replacing your window screen, so you never need to pay someone to do it for you ever again. Plus, it’s quick and easy!

torn window screen
Image via Canva.com

Time Required: 1 Hour

Materials Required:

  • Screen
  • Spline

Note: Make sure you measure the amount of spline and screen material you need before driving to your local home improvement store to ensure you don’t have to make multiple trips.

Tools Required:

Next, you need tools. You’ll have much of this in your home already. The only tool you might need to buy is a spline rolling tool that is specifically made for installing window screens. It costs about $10 at Lowe’s or Home Depot.

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Spline rolling tool (approximately $10)
  • A partner or clamps

Which Screen Type to Pick?

There are three common types of window screens. Did you know that? You may think that it’s just mesh, and it is. The material of the mesh makes a difference in how you install the screen.

Fiberglass Screens

This is the most common type of screen. If you mess this up, you can always undo the process and try it again because it has no memory.

It’s the most affordable type of screen and the easiest to install. However, when it comes to durability, it’s also the least durable type of screen you can pick.

Fiberglass screens stretch and tear the easiest, so if you do have animals and children in the home, choosing a stronger material might make more sense if you open your windows often.

ProsCons
EconomicalEasily torn or punctured
Flexible materialFades over time
Can use again if you mess up
Easiest to install

Aluminum Screens

Aluminum screens used to be an extremely common material for window screens. However, nowadays, modern home builders prefer using fiberglass window screens.

These aluminum screens are made of an aluminum wire weave.

Installing an aluminum screen is also tougher because the material has memory and fold and bend if you install it wrong.

If you get it wrong the first time, you have to throw away the material and get new ones.

Over time, aluminum will also oxidize if it’s exposed to coastal elements such as saltwater.

ProsCons
More durable than fiberglassDifficult to install
More resistant to tearingOxidizes in coastal regions

Pet Screens

pet screen next to dog
Image via Canva.com

This type of screen is the strongest and thickest because it needs to withstand any damage you may get from your pets scratching and puncturing the screens.

It’s also commonly used in screen doors or storm doors too. A pet screen is made out of PVC-coated polyester, making it seven times more durable than a regular fiberglass screen. The screen also holds up against rain and sun better because of the PVC coating.

The biggest downside of this screen is that it restricts more light from coming through it than aluminum and fiberglass screens.

ProsCons
Most durableLimits visibility
Resistant to elementsMore expensive
Puncture and tear-resistant
7 times stronger than fiberglass

How to Replace Your Window Screen in 8 Easy Steps

1. Remove Old Window Screen

taking out window screen
Image via Canva.com

Remove the old spline and screen from your window frame and place it on a flat surface such as your workbench. You want the rubber spline facing upwards, so you can remove it.

The spline is the black plastic or rubber piece that runs in the groove in your screen frame. It holds your screen material in place. You can choose to reuse the old spline or get a new one if the old one is torn.

Get your flat head screwdriver to dig up the spline. Then you can pull the rest of the spline out by using your fingertips. Wear gloves if you want because it might be dirty.

If your screen is dirty, now is a great time to consider washing it before you put in new screen material and a new spline too.

2. Measure Window Screen Material

measuring window
Image via Canva.com

This is a step most people skip. After all, why measure when you can just put the window screen material on top of the frame and cut?

If you’re working with a harder material such as an aluminum frame, you only get one chance. If you mess up, you need to go buy yourself a new screen. That’s a waste of time and money.

Haven’t your heard of the saying, “Measure twice, cut once.”

So get out your tape measure, and measure your screen. How much material do you need? You don’t need to be super exact about it because you’ll trim the excess later.

Just get an approximation of the size, and then add 2-3 inches on each side.

3. Cut Window Screen Material

Now it’s time to cut. Since you have an idea of how big the screen has to be, this part is easy.

Roll out the mesh over the screen frame. Cut the material with an extra 2-3 inches on each side.

If you decided to skip Step 2… which I don’t recommend. Place you new screen material over the spline grooves where you pulled out the rubber, and start cutting away. Leave a couple inches on each side.

4. Secure The Mesh

using spline roller to push in mesh
Image via Canva.com

Now get your spline roller, it’s time to secure the screen into the groove of your screen frame.

The spline roller has two ends, a convex end and a concave end. Use the convex end to push the screen material into the channel. This is the side without a groove in the middle and juts out.

Be careful to go slow. And don’t jam it in too hard either.

Roll from one corner to the next corner. Repeat this for the other corners. Also while rolling, make sure that your material is stretched correctly to the size of your frame.

You don’t want the mesh bunching up.

5. Push Your New Spline Down

Get your new spline and your spline roller again. It’s time to push your spline back into the groove over the mesh.

Use the concave end of the spline roller to work the spline into the groove. This is the side with a groove in the middle.

This will lock the mesh into place.

Repeat this process for all four sides of the screen, while holding the screen tight as you go. If you have an assistant aka your partner, have them hold the screen as you work on this step.

If you’re by yourself, you can use clamps or paperweights to hold down the mesh.

6. Secure the Corners

This is a quick step. Use your screwdriver to push down the spline and mesh into the four corners, making sure that none of it pokes out.

You don’t want anyone to be able to undo everything with their fingertips.

7. Trim Excess Material

Get your utility knife, it’s cutting time!

Cut the excess mesh without cutting your spline. Go slow, and do it one side at a time.

8. Place Screen Back Into Window

The last step is just to put the screen back into the window.

Now you’ve got a new window screen! You’ve saved yourself plenty of money, and you have the tools to do this again anytime you want to.

For a quick video on how to do this, here’s a guide from Home Depot:

How Much Does a Window Screen Replacement Cost?

If you’re hiring a professional to do it, they’ll charge about $20-$50 per screen plus materials too.

If you do it yourself, you’ll just be paying in materials plus your time.

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