You’ve got older screens that need repair? Well this is the right place to learn screen repair. In this post, I’ll show you the very easy process of how to replace screening on old screens.
Whether you’ve got old wood screens or newer screens replacing the screening is an easy task for any DIYer. The process for both is different so we’ll cover both techniques here to make sure you’re taken care of no matter the design of your screen.
The first thing you need to do is to pick the right screening for your repair. I’ve written a post that will give you an overview of the different types of screen materials available so you can weight the pros and cons of using each for your screen repair.
Usually, you’ll want to go with something similar to what you are replacing so that it matches the rest of your windows. Most commonly this would be fiberglass screen mesh. If your screen is older and appears to be metal, then the most likely choice would be aluminum screen mesh, but ultimately it’s up to you.
You can also build your own screens if you need some new wood screens with this DIY Window Screen post I put together.
Screen Repair For Wood Screens
The old fashioned wood screens you’ll find on most old houses are a very simple design that are easy to repair with a few basic tools.
- Arrow Hand Stapler
- 1/4″ Staples
- 5-in-1 Tool
- Razor Knife
- 18 ga nailer with 3/4″ nails (or hand driven finish nails)
- Screen mesh of your choice
These wood screens typically have screening that is stapled right on top of the frame and then covered with a small molding to hide the screen attachment.
Check out the video below to watch the whole process!
Step 1 Remove Molding
Lay the screen flat on a work table. Pry the screen molding off the face of the screen gently with a 5-in-1 tool to reveal the screening attachment points. Remove the nails and set the molding aside making sure you know which piece goes where since you’ll be reinstalling it later.
Step 2 Remove Old Screening
Pull the screening off of the wood screen frame. You don’t have to remove the staples, just the old screening. Once the screening is off you can either pry the old staples out with a flat head screwdriver or hammer them flush so they aren’t in the way of the new screening.
Step 3 Install New Screen Mesh
Roll out your new screening over the screen frame making sure it runs straight for an attractive final product. Using the hand stapler staple the screening to the frame around the perimeter under where the screen molding will be replaced so that the staples will be hidden in the final product. Start on one side pulling the screen tight with even tension as you go
I find it best to staple the long side first then do one of the short sides and work my way around to a corner, but you can attach the screen mesh however you would like. The goal is to have a tight screen with even tension all the way around.
Step 4 Replace the Molding
Reinstall the screen molding over top of your staples with 3/4″ finish nails. Make sure you get an even reveal and nice tight miter joints all the way around. You can fill the nail holes and touch them up with a matching paint when you’re done.
Step 5 Cut Excess Screening
Using a razor knife cut the excess screening off from the outside of the screen molding. Be careful not to dig too deeply into the wood. Fiberglass cuts with very light tension, but metal screens like aluminum and bronze take more pressure.
When you’re done you should have a nice tight screen with all your staples hidden underneath the molding that is ready for action.
Screen Repair For Aluminum Screens
Newer screens don’t use the staple and molding option. Instead, they largely rely on a small groove with a corresponding spline to hold the screening in place. Other than finding the right size spline, of which there are many, this method is even less labor intensive than old screens.
Spline is measured by diameter, which determines the thickness of spline you’ll need to secure your screen to the frame. The spline is always slightly larger than the size of the groove so that when installed it compresses and holds the screen tight.
To determine the size spline you need, you’ll need to measure the groove on your screen and pick the next size larger. You can use this chart by Phifer to help pick out your spline size .
If your screens are setup like this then you’ll need a smaller list of tools as well.
These screens are often aluminum frames with plastic joints and the backside of the screen has the screen spline that will be visible from the inside rather than hidden under a molding.
Step 1 Remove Spline & Screening
Lay the screen flat on a work table with the spline side facing up so you can find the end of the spline. Using needle nose pliers pull one end of the spline out of the groove until you have removed the whole spline. The screening should easily come off after that.
Step 2 Install New Screen with Spline
Lay the new screen mesh across the frame and line it up straight and evenly across the frame. Insert the spline into the groove and work your way across the screen using the screen roller to press it into place until you have spline installed across the entire frame.
To get the proper tension it can be helpful to place something heavy in the center of the screen while you are installing the spline. It is easy to install the screening too tightly on these types of screens because as you install the spline it tensions the screen much more than on a wood screen.
Step 3 Cut Excess Screening
Using a razor knife cut the excess screening off being careful not to cut into the spline. You want to cut as closely as possible to the spline so there isn’t extra screening outside the spline remaining.
If this screen repair tutorial has helped you and you want to learn more about fixing up your old house I hope you’ll consider joining me on Patreon where I work with readers to help them on their home projects!
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.