DIY Window Screens

By Scott Sidler • August 6, 2018

diy window screensWhat if I told you that you could make your own DIY window screen in just one day? Would you believe me? Well, you should, because with this post and accompanying video, it’s very doable for just about any DIYer!

This is a relatively similar process to my post about how to build DIY Storm Windows if you are looking to gain some energy efficiency out of your old windows.

You’ll need a few basic tools to get the job done and done well, and you can’t be afraid of using a few standard shop tools like a table saw and miter saw. Check out the list of tools and supplies I used below as well as the video for the step-by-step break down of the process.

Tools

Supplies

Step 1 Determine the Thickness

Screens were meant to fit on the outside of a double-hung window and rest up against the blind stop. They are usually between 3/4” and 1 1/8” thick. The 3/4” version is extremely common after 1910 and simple since you can just buy standard 1×4 and 1×6 materials to make the screens from, so that is what I’ll cover here.

For thicker screens, you have 3 options:

  1. Use a thicker stock to accommodate the size you need
  2. Fur out the blind stop a bit so as to leave 3/4” of an inch remaining
  3. Add furring strips to the perimeter of your 3/4” screen to accommodate the thickness

Step 2 Measure the Opening

The next thing you need to measure are the overall dimensions of the screen (width & height). I measure as tight as possible and then subtract an 1/8” from the overall size. If you make the screens too tight, then with the irregularities and paint build up on old windows, you will be doing a lot of planing and sanding to make it fit. If you measure and come up with 32” x 60” then plan to make your screens 31 7/8” x 59 7/8” to ensure a good fit.

Step 3 Cut to Length

You’ll need (1) 1×4 cut to the height of your window (the 59 7/8” length from our previous example) and (1) 1×6 cut to the width of the window (31 7/8”) minus 3 1/2”. There is a reason for the slight discrepancy and it has to do with the blade width on the table saw. For now, just trust that the rule is correct. You’ll see why soon!

You’ll also need enough screen molding to go around the perimeter of the screen and across the meeting rail of your screen. So, for a 32”x60” screen, you’d need approximately 18’.

Screen molding or half round is available at most home stores and that’s what you’ll use to give the screens their finished appearance.

Step 4 Rip the Rails

From these 2 pieces of wood, you’ll be able to make all the rails and stiles you need for one full screen. You’ll need the table saw for this next part to rip these pieces to the proper width. Here is the cut list you need:

  • 1×4: 2 pieces @ 1 11/16” each. Accommodating for the width of the blade this should be cutting the 1×4 exactly down the center so you have two identical width boards.
  • 1×6: 1 piece @ 1 11/16”, 1 piece at 1”, and remainder should be about 2 9/16”

Step 5 Assemble

Assemble the screen frame and clamp everything together so that it is square. In the video, I use a Kreg K4 pocket hole jig and screws to attach the joints because it is one of the most DIY friendly ways to assemble a frame like this.

Step 6 Prime & Paint

It’s much easier to prime and paint screens before you apply the screening, so take this time to put a coat of oil-based primer on and coat the frame and screen molding with the high quality paint of your choice.

Step 7 Apply Screening

Pick the screen type you want and roll it out across the frame. Start in a corner and begin pulling and stapling the screening tight. You want to staple within the first 1/2” from the inside edge of the frame in order to hide the staples in the end.

Step 8 Apply Screen Molding

Cut pieces of screen mold to cover the areas stapled earlier and nail it on with 3/4” 18 ga. nails. Miter the corners for an attractive finish.

Step 9 Install Hardware

Touch up the paint on any nails holes and then apply the screen hardware. I use Stanley Screen & Storm Hangers for my screens and storms. You also need to install a couple simple hook and eyes to attach the bottom of the screen into place and secure it.

Enjoy the fresh air a huge sense of accomplishment that your DIY window screen is not only an attractive carpentry project, but one that is extremely practical!

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2 thoughts on “DIY Window Screens”

  1. If I use something like this CMPC-1-in-x-4-in-x-8-ft-Primed-Finger-Joint-Pine-Trim-Board and then primed it with exterior latex primer it would last quite a long time correct?

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