Potted plants in a window

How To Repair Your Home’s Window Screens

Lauren Nowacki4-minutes
July 23, 2021

One of the best parts of seasons with nicer weather is being able to open the windows and allow fresh, outdoor air to fill the home. But if your screens are broken or ripped, unwelcome bugs, dirt and extra heat will keep you from enjoying the benefits of open windows.

This step-by-step guide makes door and window screen repairs easy – so you can enjoy the summer breeze in your home this season.

Why Are Window Screens Important?

Screens work as a kind of filter for the home. The most widely known case for door and window screens is that they keep bugs like flies or moths out of the home. But there are other reasons screens are important. They help by filtering light and noise from outside and reducing heat transfer. They also help protect your window by deflecting dirt, dust and rainwater from the windowpane and acting as the first layer of protection from flying stones, wood chips or other things that could break a window.

Along with letting annoying bugs in the house, damaged screens can negatively affect a home’s curb appeal by making windows look dirty and the home look poorly maintained. That’s why it’s important to know how to fix window screens, so you can do it soon after you notice the damage.

How To Fix Your Window Screens: A Step-By-Step Guide

Window screen repairs don’t have to be complicated. In fact, you’ll likely be able to fix window screens by simply rescreening the window or screen door. And it’s easier than it sounds. Before we get into how to repair window screens, let’s talk about the tools you’ll need to do it.

Tools And Materials Needed For Window Screen Repair

Here’s what you’ll need for this simple home improvement task.

  • Drill or screwdriver (to remove handles, if necessary)
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Utility knife or scissors
  • New aluminum or fiberglass screen fabric (typically comes in a roll)
  • Window screen spline (a special vinyl cording)
  • Spline roller

Step 1: Remove Screen Frame From Window Or Door

Take the screen frame out of the window or door frame and set it on a 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

To remove the damaged screen from the frame, you’ll need to first remove the spline. A screen spline is a rubber 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. You’ll do this on all four edges. Once the spline is out, the screen will simply 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. Using scissors or a utility knife, cut the screen fabric away 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). You’ll use a spline tool to roll over the spline and screen, pushing it further into the channel and making sure it stays in there. 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 4: 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.

Patching A Small Hole

If the screen just has a small hole or tear, a full rescreen may not be needed. Skip the work and opt to patch it instead. There are screen patch kits available for aluminum and fiberglass screens at the local hardware store and just go over the small area that’s damaged.

Can You DIY It, Or Should You Hire A Professional?

If the needed window screen repairs only call for a patch or 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 under $10.

Of course, if you have a very large, expensive, hard-to-find or odd-shaped screen, or if there’s damage to the screen frame, you’ll want to hire a professional to fix it.

The Bottom Line

Window screens and screen doors help filter out bugs, dirt and noise. A damaged screen can quickly become an inconvenience, especially when you want to open the windows and doors to bring fresh air into your home. But most window screen repairs are simple and require less than an hour to do on your own. If you’re wondering what else you can fix on your own, check out the 30 other DIY projects you can complete around your home.

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    Lauren Nowacki

    Lauren Nowacki is a staff writer specializing in personal finance, homeownership and the mortgage industry. She has a B.A. in Communications and has worked as a writer and editor for various publications in Philadelphia, Chicago and Metro Detroit.