Installation

A worn screen, a new screen, a splicer tool, a screwdriver, a knife and splicer on white background.
Needed tools when install or replace window screen.

Before you buy the materials, though, check out the frames of the window screens. If they are bent or twisted, you should replace them. The kits come in different colors and finishes, but they are all easy to assemble. The kit will include four pieces of frame, four corner pieces to hold the frame together, two pull-tabs, two tension springs, screening material and a rubbery cord.

Once you have these dimensions, you will need to consider the size of each corner piece. The corner pieces are typically 3/4 inch square, and since you will use two of them, you would have an extra 1 1/2 inches in length added to your measurements. You will then need to subtract this length from your measurements.

Cut the frame with a hacksaw, and make sure the cut is square or the corner pieces won't fit securely. As you put the frame together, insert the tension springs into the bottom piece of the frame, then insert the corner pieces to hold the springs in place. Take the completed frame to the window and make sure it fits. If it doesn't fit well, trim it with the hacksaw until it does. When you are satisfied with the fit, it's time to add the screening.

Place the frame on a flat surface with the grooved side facing up. Cut a piece of screen so that it extends over the frame by a few inches on each side. I suggest you buy a screening tool. This tool is nothing more than a handle with a small wheel on either side. It works like a pizza cutter except that it pushes the cord into the frame's groove to hold the screen material in place. You can try using a standard screwdriver, but be careful not to rip the screen with the sharp edge of the screwdriver.

Cut the corners diagonally so that the screen doesn't wrinkle, and starting at a corner, push the cord (with the screen) into the groove. As you roll the cord into the groove, gently pull the screen over the frame to keep it taut (if you choose to use the pull-tabs, place them under the cord before rolling). Remember though, that the frames are flimsy metal, and that if you pull the screening material too tightly, the frame will twist.

Once the cord has been inserted all around the frame, use a utility knife and trim the excess screen by running it along the perimeter of the frame.

For screens installed on aluminum frames, the material is cut slightly larger than the frame, then laid over it, and a flexible vinyl cord, called a spline, is pressed over the screen into a groove (spline channel) in the frame. The excess screen is then trimmed close to the spline with a sharp utility knife. Common spline sizes range from .140″ to .190″, in increments of .010″.

The spline is often manufactured with parallel ridges running along the length of the spline to provide a better grip and compliance when it is pressed into the channel. A spline roller — a special tool that consists of a metal (or plastic) wheel on a handle — is used to press the spline into the frame. The wheel edge is concave, to help it hold the spline and not slip off to the side. Some spline rollers are double-ended and have both convex and concave rollers; the convex roller can be used to seat the spline deeper into the channel without risk of cutting the screen. Driving the spline into the channel tends to tension the screen on the frame, so the installer must avoid pre-tensioning the screen excessively to prevent the frame from becoming warped.

When installed using wooden frames, the screen fabric is tacked or stapled onto the frame. A narrow wooden molding is then nailed over the ragged edge. The screening fabric needs to be stretched tightly before nailing, but not so tightly as to deform the fabric.

Because of corrosion problems with dissimilar metals, metal screening fabrics other than aluminum are not used in aluminum frames.