replacing window screens

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been cleaning and fixing up our screened-in porch, a glorious spot that our whole family loves. It’s been neglected for a long time, so we have a lot of work to do! We need to fix the screens, clean out the cobwebs, fix the jalousie windows, and touch up the paint.

When we bought the house, the porch was quite a fright.

Right away, we cleaned all the walls and painted them Alabaster by Sherwin Williams. We hung a few photos printed on canvas and bought some wicker furniture and an outdoor rug. John made a lovely coffee table out of a slab of live-edge wood. We also paid our contractor to install a ceiling fan and beadboard on the ceiling. We desperately wanted a haint blue ceiling, so the contractor painted the ceiling Journal Book by Valspar.

When the weather started to warm up a few weeks ago, we opened the door to the porch and saw that the screens hadn’t weathered the winter very well. A few of the screens had popped out of the frames, like the one pictured below.

When my parents came to visit, my dad very kindly agreed to help with this project. And it was SO easy!

We bought extra rolls of screen at Home Depot plus the two items below. The picture on the left is spline, the pliable cord that sticks in the frame of the screen and makes the screen stay in the frame. I wasn’t sure which size was best for this project, so I bought a few different bags and plan to return the ones that weren’t the right size. The contraption on the right is necessary for pushing the spline into place. (But if you have the choice, I’d recommend something like the tool my dad is using in the video below. His tool has two wheels, one convex and one concave.)

First, we removed the old screen and the old spline. Then we cut a new length of screen that extended at least 2″ beyond the frame on all sides.

My dad used the convex (outward-curving) wheel on his tool to gently push the screen into the frame. The goal is to slightly bend the screen so it’s easier to install the spline; if you puncture or distort the screen, you’ll have to cut new screen and start over.

Then it was time to unroll the spline and start to press it into the frame while simultaneously pulling the screen taut across the frame. It’s very helpful to have a buddy to help during this part of the process.

This time, Dad used the concave (inward-curving) wheel on the RollerKnife to push the spline into place. When doing this, it’s important to reinforce the corners of the frame — make sure to push the spline tightly into the corners.

It’s also important to keep the spline as straight as possible during the install. As you might be able to tell from the picture below, most spline has long ridges, sort of like a very long Twizzler! A concave wheel will click into those ridges and follow them down the frame, allowing you to use a lot of force to push the spline as far into the frame opening as possible.

This video might help explain the process a bit more.

When the spline is secure in the frame opening, trim the excess screening a bit. We left at least an inch on all sides of the screen. Given the way the windows are installed in our sun porch, you can’t see excess screening on the sides of the frames unless you’re standing in our side yard, and the view from that angle doesn’t matter to me. If the spline pops out again, I’m hoping we can use the extra screen as a handle, pulling on it to make the screen taut while we reinsert the spline. But if we cut the screen too close to the frame and then the spline popped out, we’d likely have to replace all the screening on that frame.

And that’s it! Not hard at all. This quick project made our sun porch so much more inviting!

Happy beginning of summer!

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