How to Repair Window Screens

Matthew Septimus

Screens allow you to enjoy more of the great outdoors while preventing its not-so-great elements from getting inside your house; they stop everything from bugs to debris from flying through an open window. When your screen becomes broken—which might involve a tear in the mesh or a bent frame—it's important to make sure you fix it quickly and correctly.

Ken Fisk, the director of technical services at Window Genie, a Neighborly company, notes that full repairs require a few common materials. You will need screening, spline cording and tool combinations, a nail punch, a small screwdriver, scissors (or something sharp to make cuts), and tape. Have all of these supplies on hand before you get started, notes Fisk, so that you don't wind up empty handed in the middle of your project—leading to yet another time-consuming trip to the store.

While badly ripped window screens should be replaced, most small tears can be easily repaired. If you're dealing with a small enough hole, you can save yourself the some time and money and simply patch the damaged area—instead of replacing the entire screen. You can do so with a patch kit, which you can find at almost any home improvement store. "The kits typically include the roll of screen, screen spline, and a spline roller," Fisk says. "However, if the hole is larger than a half dollar, it is recommended to replace the entire screen." Ahead, we walk you through a step-by-step guide to repairing window screens—and offer some advice when a full-blown replacement is necessary.

01 of 09

Small Hole Repair

looking though window screens
Cyndi Monaghan / Getty Images

When it comes to ultra-tiny holes, you have a few options, depending on your screen's materials. Nylon or fiberglass iterations can be filled in with a few drops of instant adhesive; metal pieces should be repaired with epoxy. According to Ken Fisk, the director of technical services at Window Genie, a Neighborly company, these supplies are typically found inside patch kits, which you can find at virtually any hardware store.

02 of 09

Patching a Hole in Nylon or Fiberglass Screens

looking through screened window
Richard Hamilton Smit / Getty Images

To make your own patch for nylon or fiberglass screens, cut out a square just barely larger than the hole. Apply a thin layer of fast-drying glue along the edges of the patch, and press it in place. To keep the piece in place, use low-tack painter's tape, which should hold the screen together as it dries; cut a piece of tape larger than the patch, gently place it, and leave until the screen is dry.

03 of 09

Patching a Hole in Metal Screens

metal window screen with hole
Jennifer A Smith / Getty Imges

And if you have a metal screen? Cut a patch from your new length of screening. Trim the edges of the hole into a neat square opening. Make sure the patch is a half-inch larger all around than the hole to be repaired; bend the edges' teeth into right angles. Set the patch over the opening so the teeth penetrate the screen. Turn everything over; bend the teeth flat on other side to hold your repair in place.

04 of 09

Replacing a Molding-Frame Screen

stapling window screen to frame
Matthew Septimus

If your screen has major damage, says Fisk, you'll want to take out the entire panel and replace it. Start by removing the damaged screen mesh and placing the frame down on a flat surface. Screening is typically held in place with staples, which are hidden by molding—so be sure to pry up the existing molding with a small chisel or screwdriver. Cut your replacement screen with shears to overlap the frame by half an inch all the way around; then, set it in place. Use a staple gun to fasten the mesh, working from the middle of opposite sides to the corners, keeping tension even.

05 of 09

Nail the Molding

nailing window screen to window frame
Matthew Septimus

Nail the molding back into place with small nails or brads, and countersink. Trim the excess screening with a utility knife. Fill in nail holes with paintable wood filler, and paint.

06 of 09

Replacing a Channel-Frame Screen

replacing channel frame screen
Matthew Septimus

Channel frames come in metal and wood versions. Most modern iterations are held in place with a somewhat stiff plastic string called spline, which comes in various widths and styles. Use a small screwdriver or flathead to pry up the old spline, advises Fisk, and take a piece of this with you to the hardware store for comparison. "You'll also need to use the flathead to remove the spline entirely. This will release the screen material, so you can lay the new screen over and cut as needed," he says.

07 of 09

Cut Replacement Screening

cutting replacement screen
Matthew Septimus

Cut replacement screening with shears, and position so that it overlaps the channel. "Prime" the screening, unless it is synthetic, by pressing it into the channel along the top of the frame using the convex end of a spline roller, a tool similar to a blunt pizza cutter. This forms a trough for the spline. "The spline roller then reinserts the spline into the grooves and secures the new mesh into the frame," notes Fisk. If you're using synthetic screening, which doesn't hold a shape, simply proceed to the next step.

08 of 09

Fit the Replacement Screen

fitting replacement window screen
Matthew Septimus

Cut a piece of spline the length of the top edge of the frame. Starting at one corner, carefully push the spline into this channel using the concave side of the roller. The fit should be very tight. Repeat this step along the two sides, keeping the screen taut. If a wrinkle appears, pull out the spline, and start over. Finish with the bottom edge.

09 of 09

Finish the Screen

finishing replacement screen window repair
Matthew Septimus

"Once all sides are secured, trim the excess and be careful not to cut into the spline," says Fisk, who recommends using a utility knife to neatly slice away the extra screening. Be very careful to keep your fingers out of the path of the blade.

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