Potted plants in a window

How To Fix Your Home’s Window Screens

Michelle Giorlando5-minute read
July 23, 2021

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With the warmer seasons come beautiful breezes, comfortable temperatures … and bugs. A thin piece of mesh can be the tool that allows you to enjoy the first two and avoid the last one! Maintaining your home’s window screens is an important part of home maintenance.

Let’s look at a step-by-step guide on how to fix window screens and enjoy fresh air in your home.

Why Are Window Screens Important?

Window screens have a practical purpose as well as an aesthetic purpose. They serve as filters when windows are both open and closed. When they’re open, window screens keep out bugs and filter out light. When your windows are closed, the window screens act as a protectant to the window itself by keeping water, rocks, woodchips and other things from hitting the window.

Windows are a good place to start with home improvement as well, especially if you’re considering selling your home. Damaged or dirty window screens can make your windows look broken or in disrepair, which can affect your home’s curb appeal.

Tools And Materials Needed To Fix Window Screens

Repairing screens yourself is a relatively simple home improvement task. Before you begin, you’ll want to gather all the tools and materials you’ll need to do it.

First, you’ll need to buy your replacement screen material. There are several kinds to choose from, and they have different benefits. Consider what kind of environment your windows are in. If you’ve got nosy dogs or toddlers who like to push at screens, you may want a heavier-duty screen. If there are lots of little bugs trying to invade your home, you might choose a more tightly woven screen.  Some screens are a better choice for blocking the sun and reflecting the heat.

Here are three popular types:

  • Fiberglass screen: lightweight, strong, durable, flexible, affordable, energy efficient
  • Aluminum screen: durable, won’t sag, lightweight, excellent choice for blocking out heat
  • Polyester screen: extremely strong, excellent choice for rowdy pets or kids, energy efficient, used in solar screening to block out the intense heat and sun

In addition to your screen fabric, you’ll need to buy window screen spline. This is a cordlike material made of vinyl or foam that secures the screen into the screen frame. Spline holds the screen taut and keeps it secure. You may also want to buy a spline roller to help make installation easier.

You’ll also need some common household tools to help with the installation:

  • Drill or screwdriver (to remove handles, if necessary)
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Utility knife or scissors

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How To Repair A Window Screen In 5 Steps

You’ve gathered your tools and bought all your materials. Now it’s time to do the work. Let’s look at step-by-step instructions for adding a new screen or replacing a damaged screen in your window or screen door.

Step 1: Remove Screen Frame From Window Or Door

Each window frame has tabs, pins or latches to unhook it. Carefully remove the screen frame by gently pulling the tabs toward the center of the window to loosen it. Frames are usually flexible but take care not to bend the frame. Pull it out of the window or door frame and set it on a flat, sturdy surface. If you’re rescreening a screen door and there are handles, use a drill or screwdriver to unscrew and remove the door handles.

Step 2: Remove Damaged Screen

Next, remove the damaged screen from the frame. You’ll need to first remove the spline, the foam or vinyl cord that keeps the screen fabric taut and attached to the frame. It sits over the screen fabric inside a thin channel on the inside of the frame.

To remove the spline, use a flathead screwdriver at the end of the cord to pry the cord from the channel. Once you can grasp the cord with your fingers, simply pull it up and out. Do this on all four edges. Once the spline is out, the screen will easily come out of the frame.

Step 3: Lay New Screen Over Frame

Unroll the new screen fabric over the screen frame, leaving a few extra inches of fabric over the frame on each side. This will be used with the spline to hold the screen in the frame. Using scissors or a utility knife, cut the screen fabric from the roll.

Step 4: Insert Spline And Fit Screen To Frame

Next, you’ll want to insert the spline to attach the screen to the frame. Place the spline on top of the screen and push the spline and screen fabric into the channel on the inside of the frame where you first removed the old spline. Use a spline tool to roll over the spline and screen, pushing it further into the channel and making sure it stays in there tightly. As you work your way around the frame, make sure you’re pulling the screen taut – but not too tight, or you’ll rip the screen or bend the frame.

Once the spline is firmly in the channel, use a utility knife to cut the spline, then use it to remove the extra inches of screen from the frame. To remove the excess screen fabric, simply run the utility knife in the channel on the outside of the spline, along the frame.

Step 5: Reinstall Screen Frame

Once the new screen is in place, you’ll want to reattach any handles you removed (if repairing a screen door) and then reinstall the screen frame back into the window or door frame. To put the screen back in, you’ll line up the top edge of the screen frame back into the window and pull the tabs toward you while carefully reinstalling the frame. Again, be gentle so you don’t bend it!

How To Patch A Small Hole In A Window Screen

If the screen just has a small hole or tear, you might consider patching it instead of fully re-screening it. You can buy screen patch kits available for aluminum and fiberglass screens at your local hardware store, or you can make your own if you have some screen fabric handy.

You’ll want to cut a patch bigger than the area that needs repair. For fiberglass or polyester screen, secure it with clear epoxy glue. For an aluminum screen, cut a square in the screen that’s smaller than the patch, then bend the teeth of the screen toward you at a right angle. Slide the patch onto the teeth, and then bend them down to hold the patch securely.

While patching is an inexpensive fix, it’s not necessarily aesthetically pleasing, so you may want to replace the whole screen.

Can You DIY Window Screen Repairs, Or Should You Hire A Professional?

It’s up to you! If you don’t feel like doing it, or can’t, a professional can easily take care of your rescreening for you. But if you’re up for the task, it’s something you can do yourself.

If your necessary window screen repairs only call for a patch or simple rescreen, you can DIY the project. Rescreening will only take about an hour – depending on the number of screens in need of repair – and the cost for all the tools you’ll need is relatively inexpensive. Basic rolls of screen fabric are typically $10 – $50, though you can spend more for higher quality. Spline and a spline roller tool are both generally under $10.

If the damage to your window screens and their frames is extensive, or if your current screens are odd shapes and sizes, it’s wise to hire a professional to fix them. Compare quotes from top-rated window and door contractors in your area with HomeAdvisor.

The Bottom Line: Repairing Damaged Window Screens Is Crucial For Homeowner Health And Comfort

Maintaining your window screens is an important part of home care. It’s a job that’s easily doable by yourself or done by a professional. However you do it, you’ll be enjoying breezes and no more bugs in no time. Got the bug for home improvement? Check out 30 other DIY home projects.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

Michelle Giorlando

Michelle Giorlando is a freelance writer who lives in metro Detroit. When she's not writing about homeownership, finances, and mortgages, she enjoys performing improv, gardening, and befriending the wildlife in her yard.