As the weather warms up everyone is more than ready to throw open their windows and doors and get some much needed fresh air. Unfortunately, with fresh air comes bugs.
Other than drenching your yard in chemicals or citronella candles the best way to keep the bugs away while enjoying fresh air in your house is to add screens and screen doors.
I’ve posted a tutorial about how you can build your own DIY window screens and you can see that video below. It’s a great money saver and the screens look professional, but one thing I didn’t cover was how to pick the right screening for your project.
There are decorative options like bronze or aluminum screening, utilitarian options like pet screening to keep dogs and cats at bay, and good old fashioned fiberglass screening. In this post, I’ll walk you thru the options and when you might use one over the other as well as the costs of each.
Pick the Right Screening
The pricing and purposes of all the different kinds of screen mesh vary wildly so knowing what you want your screen to accomplish is key to picking the right screening.
All these screens will block insects without a problem. We’ll start at the most basic level and work up from there to find the right screening for your project.
Fiberglass screening is everywhere and is very affordable running about $0.25 per SF. Most of it is coated in vinyl for flexibility and longevity and this is by far the most common and most cost effective screening on the market today.
Fiberglass screening is flexible enough that if you bump into it it can stretch and come right back with sagging or denting like some of the metal screening we’ll talk about below. This makes it a good choice if you have little kids who are “handsy” or you’re on a budget.
The next step up in quality would be aluminum screening which is a good replacement for historic screens that were typically made from galvanized steel. Aluminum is a tougher screening material than fiberglass, though being a thin metal it does dent easily when banged or bumped.
Aluminum comes in a variety of colors with options for bright, charcoal, and black. The brighter colors can create a very distinct look, but for best visibility go with the charcoal or black options.
The cost for aluminum screening is about double that of fiberglass screening at $0.46 per SF.
The mac-daddy of high end screening is bronze screening. It’s harder than aluminum which means it’s a bit more resilient to damage but also harder to work with and cut.
When freshly installed it has a beautiful gold color that really glistens in the sun. That color gradually fades to a deep copper color over the first couple years and then after a few decades you you may get a hint of green patina since bronze ages the same way copper does.
You’ll pay a premium for bronze screening at $2.65 per SF that’s 10x the cost of fiberglass, but if you want that high end look then that’s what it takes.
For those of us with fur babies, pet screening is a good idea especially for screen doors. Pet screening is a reinforced fiberglass screening that is about 20% stronger than normal fiberglass screening.
The stronger screening can stand up to small and medium dogs and cats (as long as they don’t use it as a scratching post) sticking their noses and paws where they inevitably will go.
The visibility is a little less than standard fiberglass screening but still very good. At around $0.96 per SF it’s a considerable upgrade , but well worth it to avoid constantly replacing screening due to irascible pets.
For those of you in the southern states you may want to look into solar screening for the south and west sides of you house. This tighter weave of screening blocks upwards of 90% of the sun’s heat from passing through it.
This is a great option for energy savings since the upcharge is relatively minor at $0.75 per SF. In addition to window screens, another great place to install this is atop pergolas to make the sitting area considerably cooler and give you less chance of sunburn.
Mostly available in black there are a variety of options that offer different levels of heat blocking ranging between 40% and 90%.
Don’t be fooled that regular screens don’t also block heat and sun penetration, they are just not rated or designed with this special purpose in mind. You’ll definitely get some heat blocking benefits by adding any type of screening to your old windows.
This goes by a lot of different names, but MicroMesh screening is a smaller weave screening that is a 20×20 mesh as opposed to the typical 10×14 mesh. It’s great for folks who want to eliminate even the smallest bugs like gnats and “no-see-ums” which is another nickname for this screening.
It is made from fiberglass and has good visibility through it compared to standard fiberglass screening. It runs about $0.56 per SF.
Stainless Steel Screening
Another premium metal option is stainless steel screening. We’re not talking bright and shiny like your kitchen sink, but a uniform black material that blends in with everyone else’s screens, but offers premium performance especially for tough environments like coastal climates or high traffic areas.
For the premium price of $2.13 per SF stainless steel screening is a slightly tighter weave at 18×18 and is the strongest of the metal screening and most resistant to corrosion or denting.
That same strength makes it a bit challenging to work with and cut. Anticipate quickly dulling blades and extra effort to wrangle it into place, but it is a great product and well worth the price for those areas like screen doors or beach houses (neither of which I currently possess unfortunately).
I hope this guide has helped you pick the right screening for your project. There really isn’t a wrong option, just some that may work better than others in certain circumstances.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below as to which you prefer and why. I’m curious!
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.