Window and Door Screens - Fix 'em and Forget 'em

  • 2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-50

If you have screens in your home, repair and replacement is part of the ownership task list.

Patch Holes

No matter how you decide to repair holes in your screens, the patch will show. If your wife is a fussy homeowner like mine, continue to the next section. The patch, however, can keep out insects. If the holes you want to cover are small, you can buy pre-cut aluminum screen patches that have their side wires bent back as fish hooks to catch the screen. To use these patches, make sure it is level before inserting. You will not get a second chance to adjust it.

You can also use extra screening to repair holes. Cut a piece of screening which will cover the hole, overlapping at least one inch on all sides. Then unravel a long piece of screen wire, or several pieces, and lace it through the patch and screen to keep the patch in place.


Cut a patch large enough to cover the hole with about 1-1/2" around all sides and unravel all sides of the patch about 1/2". Bend the ends of the wire 90 degrees to the patch and push them through the screen covering the hole. Then bend over the wires projecting through on the back side to hold the patch.

Replace Screens

Hole in a screen

Replacing a damaged section or an entire screen can be done with tools usually found around the home and by do-it-yourselfers. Several different materials are available for screening including aluminum, used today mostly on wood frames and plastic or fibrerglass for plastic and metal frames, all three of which are nearly permanent against weather. Galvanized iron and copper screens were used in the past but these materials corrode over a period of time and should be replaced before they discolor the window frames and walls.

Screen fabric comes in many different widths so choose the width that will cover your frame with the least waste. Sketching a layout of the pieces you need on paper before buying the wrong width and before cutting will reduce waste.

Step 1 - Pull the Retainer

Remove the aluminum or plastic retainer strip from around the frame that holds the screen fabric. Be careful not to tear the plastic or break the aluminum strip. An awl, ice pick or other sharp pointed object works well to remove either type of retainer.

Step 2 - Cut Screen Piece

Using the torn screening as a pattern, cut the new screening. Plastic screening is usually used today with aluminum frames. Cut the screen at least 1/2" wider than the pattern to be sure there is enough to hold when you replace the retainer strip. Cutting the screen even with the outside of the frame is a good size.

Step 3 - Lay out Screening

Spread the screening over the frame and press the retainer strip into the groove. Temporarily fastening the screen with masking tape keeps it in place on the frame.

Step 4 - Install Retainer

You may need a hammer to force the retainer strip into the groove. You can also purchase an inexpensive spline tool for this job. Do not strike the metal strip directly with the hammer but use a wood block about 3" or 4" long between the hammer and the strip. If a plastic strip is used it can be forced into the groove by hand pressure on a wooden block three to four inches long.

Step 5 - Trim Screening

Trim off excess screening with kitchen scissors or a knife or razor blade.

Making a Replacement Frame

using a spline tool to install screen material

Occasionally a metal screen will fall out, be blown out or otherwise damaged beyond repair. Then there are windows, especially in older houses that are odd sizes for which a screen is desired. Materials to make a replacement screen or odd-sized screen can be purchased at many building materials, home, and hardware stores.

The framing material usually comes in lengths of six or eight feet so measure the opening into which the frame must fit before you buy the material. Buy enough material to make all four sides. In addition, buy a package of four corner braces. Then proceed as follows.

Step 1 - Mark the Cuts

Mark off a 45-degree angle near one end of the material. Then mark off a distance equal to one side of the opening, being sure to mark on the long side.

Step 2 - Make Cuts

Then cut another 45 degree angle so the piece looks like the side of a picture frame.

Step 3 - Install Corners

Insert a corner brace into each end of one of the pieces and attach two more sides so you have a "U" shape. Insert the remaining two corner braces into the last side and attach to the frame.

Step 4 - Install Screening Material

Install the screen fabric as described in the section above.