Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Replacing screen windows

I had a Griswold moment last winter when I was fixing some rot on our soffits (under the roof). I wasn't paying enough attention with my ladder and drove it right through a window screen.

I probably could have picked up a patch kit, but I've never done a screen patch, and a full replacement is pretty quick and cheap.

It was pretty tattered anyway, after 25 years of keeping Carolina bugs out.

So down it came for a quick replacement job.

I had done this before (we used to have a pet rabbit), so felt comfortable diving right in.
First, I had to remove the old screen, held in-place by spline (long rubber tubing) fit into grooves along the screen frame. Here's the corner where the spline meets itself.

A bit of prodding with a screwdriver got it loose, then I just had to pull all the spline out and remove the screen.

Naked frame, still in pretty good shape! Buildling a new frame isn't a light task, but can be done with a kit from your local home improvement store (just requires some careful measuring and cutting, like most jobs).

The "crossbar" is simply a piece of the framing aluminum bent at the ends to fit in the groove. Here it is, temporarily pulled away.

I picked up a nice long roll of replacement screen, enough to replace all of the screens. Oops, shouldn't have written this, now I'll probably have to replace them all.
I cut a section just a few inches larger than the frame and laid it out.

My Home Depot "Home Depot 1-2-3" manual had the fantastic suggestion of cutting the corners a bit, so the excess material doesn't bunch "around the bend".

I started at one corner, pushing the new spline in the groove, keeping the screen in place. I used the concave end of my screen roller tool (no picture, sorry!) to push the spline in. The tool also has a convex end (like a pizza cutter), but I honestly have no idea what it's for. The meshwork of the screen helped me keep everything in-line as I worked the new spline in. 

A bit of dexterity is required to keep the screen tight and straight, but slow careful work will pay dividends. Alternately, a second pair of hands makes this a piece of cake. Rounding a corner here, only three more edges to go! Be careful not to poke holes with the tool! 

This one screen went so quickly that I decided to replace a second tattered screen, with equally satisfying results. Screen is cheap enough that if you make a mistake and the replacement screen is ruined, just start over. Otherwise, you'll just stare at your mistake for a long time.

As long as the frame is looking good, this should be a 15-30 minute job, so there's no excuse for that moth portal you've been ignoring!



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