Window screens are NOT included!

Remodel journal 2005-06-12: One of the things we noticed when we bought our “new” house was the lack of screens on most of the windows–we had screens on the two bedroom windows and the bathroom window, all the other windows were screenless. We don’t have central air conditioning in the house, so being able to open the windows is a pretty high priority. But we didn’t really want all the flies and mosquitoes and other such pests to have free reign of the house, so screens were one of the first things that needed to be taken care of.

Except for the living room, all the windows in the house are double-hung. Since we’re going to replace all these windows when we remodel, we didn’t want to spend a bunch of money having special screens built. One of my wife’s patients suggested that we just buy some fiberglass screen fabric and staple it to the outside of the window. This worked great, and most people don’t even notice the quick-and-dirty fix until we mention it to them.

Now, back to that living room window. This is the only window in our house with sliding windows and aluminum frames. The frame precludes our quick-and-dirty fix, so we thought we’d try our hands at building our own screens. This wasn’t too difficult, be we did make one mistake. Hopefully some intrepid screen-builder will read this post and learn from our mistake instead of having to repeat it.

The window opening is huge, about 9 feet wide and 6 feet tall. The sliding “lights” are on the left and right sides of the window, each about 2 feet wide by 5 feet tall. We went to Emigh Hardware (it’s awesome!) and found screen kits for 5 foot square windows, as well as smaller sizes. Building a 5×2 screen from a 5×5 kit was obviously going to lead to a lot of waste, so Barb came up with a great idea–buy one 5×5 kit and one 2×2 kit (same brand) and use the 2-foot pieces for the horizontal members of both screens. (Yeah, Barb!) Worked like a charm and saved us from having to buy an extra 12 lineal feet of screen framing just to throw it away!

  1. Insert the frame edge into the screen pocket of the window, then mark the frame member for length. Leave the piece about 1/8″ (3 mm) short to allow for expansion and to make inserting the screen easier.
    Screen frame piece positioned Mark frame length

  2. Mark a square line across the frame, cut with a hacksaw or power saw, then optionally sand off any burrs.
    Marking a square line Cut the framing to length Sanding off burrs

  3. Repeat for all four frame pieces, then assemble the frame using the corner pieces provided in the kit.
    Assemble the frame

  4. Lay out the screen fabric over the assembled frame. You should have some excess material overlapping the frame.
    Lay out screen fabric

  5. Insert the spline using a plastic spline tool. (A metal tool tends to cut the screen fabric.) Then cut the spline to length with a utility knife.
    Insert the spline Cut spline to length

  6. Once all four splines are installed, trim the screen fabric with a utility knife.
    Trim screen fabric Trim screen fabric (closeup)

  7. You’re through!

About Jim Vanderveen

I'm a bit of a Renaissance man, with far too many hobbies for my free time! But more important than any hobby is my family. My proudest accomplishment has been raising some great kids! And somehow convincing my wife to put up with me since 1988. ;)
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