Thanks to screens, we can enjoy being outdoors without all the dirt and insects. Open windows let the breeze in without letting in anything else, and we can picnic on our screened-in porches without the bug spray. Screens can generally take a lot of wear and tear, but when subjected to winds, weather, and contact with people and pets, they start to break down. Fortunately, they are often easy to repair without costly maintenance. In fact, window and door screen repairs can be straightforward DIY projects.
Screens usually come in either aluminum or fiberglass material. Either of these can be patched if the damage is minor, such as a rip or hole just a few inches in length. Hardware stores sell kits specific to the screen’s make and material for patching small holes. Alternately if you have spare screen fabric on-hand you can construct and apply a patch yourself. Start by cutting an even shape around the rip, like a square or rectangle. Place a piece of waxed paper under the hole so the adhesive does not stick to your workspace. Dab a light layer of an adhesive like super glue or rubber-based glue along the edge of the hole–you could use a toothpick or small paintbrush for this step. Cut a patch out of your roll of spare screen that is about a half-inch larger than the hole. Center the patch over the hole and press it onto the cut edges of the hole, allow to dry completely.
If the damage is larger or if you would just prefer to replace the entire screen, this won’t cost you much time or effort either.
- Locate a clear, flat workspace and lay the screen down flat. Use a flat instrument like a flathead screwdriver to remove the rubber screen retainer spline from the screen’s frame so you can remove the old screen. Check to see if the spline is visibly cracked or weathered. If it is, replace it along with the screen material.
- Measure the screen then cut the replacement screen to size using tin cutters or heavy-duty scissors. Allow yourself a few extra inches on each side to make installation a little easier.
- Center the new screen on the frame and pull it tight over the frame edges. Secure it in place with strong tape.
- Using a screen spline roller tool, fit the screen firmly down into the indentation on the frame while pulling it taut, then use the tool to push the rubber spline back into the indentation over the new screen. Once the spline rests tightly down in the indentation, closely trim any excess screen around all the edges.
If you are constructing a porch or outdoor kitchen and planning for a large amount of screen, you may want to consider using thin posts or vertical slats between large screen ‘windows’ instead of expanses of uninterrupted screen. This lets you take down individual screens to repair or replace instead of more costly, larger-scale fixes.