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How to replace window screens for $15 or less

Apr 28, 2023Apr 28, 2023

by: Scott Jones

Posted: May 12, 2023 / 05:15 AM EDT

Updated: May 12, 2023 / 06:21 AM EDT

INDIANAPOLIS – This time of year, there's a good chance you will experience hail at your home. And if it's really bad, you can have some damage to your house. One of the first places you’ll see the damage is on the window screens. You can pay to replace them for upwards of $50 or you can repair them yourself for a fraction of the price. It is one of the easiest DIY projects and least expensive to do, yet most home owners don't attempt it.

Recently, I heard a loud bang outside of my house. I ran upstairs where the sound came from to check the windows to make sure they weren't broken. That's when I saw the busted screen — which wasn't busted the day before. I opened the window and found a golf ball sitting between the screen and the glass window. The window wasn't broken, but the window screen had a hole in it where the golf ball came through. It's not hail, but it caused the same kind of damage.

By the time I went back downstairs, the golfers were long gone, but that's the risk of living off a fairway. Depending on where you take the broken window screen, it could cost $50 or more to have it replaced. Instead I investigated if I could do it myself. Turns out, it's very inexpensive to do it yourself with a complete screen kit that cost me about $17.

First thing you want to do is take out the old screen and measure the screen frame so you can buy a replacement kit that's the correct size. Most will come much bigger than what you need. When buying, you will also choose between screening materials, typically fiberglass or aluminum. Fiberglass is much easier to work with. It also matches the color, which is generally grey or black.

The kit I bought off Amazon came with the screen, spline that holds the screen in, a roller tool to push the spline in, plus a little utility knife and tape measure. And instead of using something like a screw driver, there's even a little tool with a hook on the end to remove the old spline.

After removing the screen from the window, I then removed the spline from the window. It's just pushed into the channel and can be pulled out easily once you grab ahold of the end of the rubber spline. In some cases, it comes out as one long piece that goes all the way around the frame channel. In my case, the spline was put in five pieces to go around the little window pegs that hold the screen into the window. After you remove the spline, the window screen can just be pulled out with your hand.

Here the directions say to lay the window screen on a flat surface like a floor. Then lay the new screen over the window frame with about 3 inches of screen on each side. Try to align one side of the screen so it's parallel with the edge of the frame so it doesn't go on at an angle. Then cut away the part that's not needed as it makes it easier to handle when there's not extra screen. I just used my own scissors for this as it cuts easily.

Now it's time to use the spline roller that's included in the kit to embed the spline. Most instructions and videos say use the sharper end or the convex side of the roller tool to embed the screen into the channel all the way around. Then put the spline in over the screen and embed it into the channel using the concave side.

I did it all at once instead as a friend told me that's how it's worked well for him when he replaces his screen. I tried it and it worked well. You can try it too. Just lay the spline on top of the screen and push them both into the screen frame channel at once with your fingers. Then with the convex side of the roller, push both the spline and the screen beneath it into the channel all at once. You should roll over it a couple times to make sure it's fully seated into the channel. Do two adjacent sides first.

Another tip to try is to re-use the same pieces of spline that came from the old window if it's in good shape. That's what I did because I knew the old spline would be the perfect size and was already molded around the corners. When removing the old spline, I placed those old pieces next to the frame so I knew where they would go back.

After getting two adjacent sides done with the spline and the screen in, I gently pulled the screen taut in the direction where there was no spline in yet. That way you can remove any wrinkles as you can go, and so it is taut. Be sure not to pull it too tight as that can warp the frame and then it may not fit back into the window.

Once the screen is put in along with the spline, remove the extra material with a razor, making sure to not cut the spline. There's no need to go fast here and you don't have to push hard with a new blade to cut the screen. Just be careful to cut away from your hands.

This whole process of removing the old screen and putting in a new one took about 15 minutes and I hadn't done it before, but I did have my friend there telling me what he did. If you’ve done the process before or are planning to do several screens, you can easily do one screen every 10 minutes once you get the process down pat.

It's also cheaper after you do the first window because you don't have to buy a full kit anymore, just the screen. So instead of spending $17, just the screen can cost about $10. Just make sure they have the right size and color you need.



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