Repairing and replacing screens fits easily under the heading of do-it-yourself projects. Screen repair is among the simplest of jobs.
In this document you will find information about:
- Screen Repairs
- Replacing Screening in Wood Frames
- Replacing Screening in Metal Frames
- Frame Repairs
- Painting Screens
- Cleaning Screens
FIG. 1 - Unravel several
strands from the patching material or use a ready-made, snap-on patch.
FIG. 2 - Slip the
bent strands of the patch through the screening, then bend them back to
hold the patch in.
FIG. 3 - Close holes
up to 3/8" with household cement.
- You can easily patch most small holes. It's only when a hole exceeds about
3" in diameter that the screening itself needs to be replaced.
- Measure hole sizes and purchase ready-made, snap-on repair patches
or cut them from new screening. A patch should be at least 1/2"
larger in diameter than the hole. For bigger holes, the patch should
be as much as 1" larger.
- For metal and most fiberglass screen patches, use this procedure:
Unravel a number of strands around the edges of the patch one or two
rows back from the edges, depending on the patch size (Fig. 1). Then
weave the strands through the screening and bend them tight (Fig. 2).
You can usually bend the strands with your fingers, but if the patch
is heavy duty, you may need long-nosed pliers. Plastic patches need
a touch of household cement on the ends of the strands after they've
been woven through.
- You can patch small holes1/4" to 3/8"with a small
amount of household cement (Fig. 3). This glue patch will be next to
- Fiberglass and plastic screens are tough to patch and should probably be replaced.
FIG. 4 - For the cleat-and-wedge
method of stretching a new screen, first staple the screening across the
top of the frame.
FIG. 5 - Then nail
down the longer end between two cleats.
FIG. 6 - Insert wedges
between the cleats and frame, tapping them in gently until the screen
FIG. 7 - Now you can
staple the screening along the bottom and both sides.
FIG. 8 - For longer
frames, place the unit on sawhorses over 2x4s or plywood. The center is
clamped and the ends are gently raised on 2x4 blocks.
REPLACING SCREENING IN WOOD FRAMES
- To remove the old screening, pry off the screen molding, starting in the
center of a strip and working toward the ends. Try not to break it.
- Your local retailer can help you decide what type of new screening
to use. For general household screening, you need a mesh of 18"
x 14" or finer (these are the stand counts in each direction, per
- With wooden window and door screens, it is important to stretch the
screen fabric drum-tight for a neat and long-lasting job. For the wedge
method of stretching, you'll need some 1x2 stock in a length slightly
wider than the window or door and some 1x4 stock from which to saw out
- Cut your new screening at least 1' longer and 1' wider than the unit
to be recovered.
- Staple the screening across the top edge (Fig. 4). Then install the 1x2
cleats with the bottom cleat nailed to a bench or other flat surface.
Roll the screening over it, then nail on the top cleat (Fig. 5).
- Insert the wedges between the cleats and screen frame, tapping the wedges
in until the screen has been pulled taut. Fig. 6 shows the procedure.
- Staple the screening at the bottom, then along the sides. Put a staple
in every few inches (Fig. 7).
- Snip off any excess screening, and use brads to refit the screen moldings.
Countersink the brads and fill the holes with wood putty.
- The cleat-and-wedge method works well with window screens and halves
of doors, but there's a better method of stretching screen material
on larger units, such as doors. You'll need a pair of sawhorses with
two 2x4s about the same length as the screen placed across them (or
use a sheet of plywood). Place the stripped fame on the boards, holding
the center with C-clamps. Then lift each end and insert short 2x4 blocks
to bow them (Fig. 8). Bowing needs to be done slowly and gently to keep
from snapping the frame.
- Now staple the screen in place tightly, starting at the center brace.
Remove the 2x4 blocks and the screen will be quite taut as you replace
the screen moldings.
FIG. 9 - To replace
screening in a metal frame, carefully pry out the splines with a screwdriver
that's slightly smaller than the spline.
FIG. 10 - Cut the
screening to the exterior frame size.
REPLACING SCREENING IN METAL FRAMES
- Aluminum screens or screen doors require a different technique.
- Without kinking the metal frame, remove the splines that hold the old screen
in place (Fig. 9). Check to see if new splines are needed. For replacement,
vinyl splining is excellent. It comes in rolls of various widths.
- Use a square to make sure the frame is still in decent shape. Reshape it
- Cut new screening to the frame's outside measurements (Fig. 10).
- Next, force the screen's edges into the channel on the top and one
side using the convex-edged wheel of a spline or screen installation
tool (Fig. 11). These tools are available with different-width rollersuse
one that matches the channels in your screen frame. Use short strokes
for the best results. A putty knife will work, too.
- With a sharp utility knife, cut the screening to fit the two remaining
sides. Use the outside edge of the retaining channel as a guide. Use
the spline tool to roll the screening into the remaining grooves.
- Use the concave-edged wheel of the spline tool to roll the retaining strips or splines into the channels (Fig. 12). As before, make short strokes. As the spline goes in, it will pull the screening taut. To complete the installation, cut off any excess screening around all four sides.
FIG. 11 - Roll the
screening down into the channel using the convex wheel of the spline tool.
FIG. 12 - Roll the
spline into the channels with the concave wheel of the spline tool.
FIG. 13 - Screws and dowels are useful where the outside layer of wood
has been weakened, while mending plates go on simply and quickly.
- Screen frame repairs are easiest to make on wooden screen doors and
windows. You may need wood glue, dowels, corrugated or chevron fasteners,
mending plates and wood screws, depending on the condition of the frame.
The fasteners work best on mitered-corner screen frames.
- If the joint is slightly loosened but the material is intact, open it up
enough to apply wood glue. Use a glue that's suited for outdoor exposure
(ask your retailer).
- Along with re-gluing, you may want to install a mending plate of the
proper size. Flat and angled plates are available in many sizes; use
the largest size that fits without causing problems. Secure the plates
with wood screws, which are often included. Make sure the screws don't
come through the back of the frame.
- For making a simple repair at a slightly damaged corner, you have
two choices. You can use a wood screw from the undamaged edge or a dowel
from either edge (with glue). Drill and countersink for the wood screw,
using as large a size as practical. A 2-1/2" No. 10 screw is probably
the smallest screw that's strong enough to last. Fill the countersink
hole with putty.
- For a dowel, drill for at least a 3/8" diameter dowel. A 1/2" dowel is even better. Dowels need to be slightly undersized for their holes with a tap fit. Take care to see that the dowel runs on into undamaged wood.
- Coat the dowel with glue and tap it into the hole.
- With dowel and wood screw repairs, the holes should extend into both pieces
of the frame. If the frame shows signs of twisting, you'll need to use
two slightly smaller dowels or two wood screws.
- Fig. 13 shows four types of screen corner repairs using a wood screw,
dowel and two types of mending plates.
- Aluminum frame repairs are limited to rebracing of corners. Or you can
get extruded metal frame stock and make new screens. A cross-brace kit
is also available, if needed, with turnbuckles and clamps to draw a
sagging screen door back into square and hold it there.
- For frame or corner repairs, check the squareness of the frame, then use mending plates and sheet metal screws to make repairs or to reinforce those corners. Be sure that the mending plates you use are the same material as the frame. This will help prevent corrosive electrolysis between dissimilar metals.
- In most cases, only wood-framed screens ever need painting. Choose the
paint to match the window frames. Select painting tools that are suited
for use on small surfaces. If you have the old screening off and find
that the frame needs painting, do it while the screen is off.
- On wood screens, remove the old, torn screening as the paint coat
under the molding and screen provides protection. Make sure the coating
is light, though, so the molding fits on replacement.
- Don't try painting screen mesh. If your screens have galvanized screen mesh, replace them if they rust. Painting aluminum or fiberglass screening is only a waste of time
FIG. 14 - Sometimes,
simply spraying screens with water will clean them sufficiently; other
times, scrubbing with a brush and detergent is needed.
- To clean screens, first try vacuuming them while installed. An upholstery
nozzle usually does the trick.
- In some cases, airborne dirt cannot be removed simply by vacuuming. Then the screens must be taken off and washed. With luck, a hard spray from a garden hose will do the job (Fig. 14). In other cases, you'll need to scrub the screens. Do this with a stiff-bristled brush and a mild detergent solution, and finish by rinsing with the hose.
Check your state and local codes before starting any project.
Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished
by the National Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors.
Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor
nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from
the use of the information in this document.