Repairing a window screen with Jill of All Trades

As warm weather approaches, we start to think about opening up the windows and letting the fresh air in, which begs the question… what do your screens look like? Our Jill of All Trades, Jill Washburn, shows us just how easy it is to repair or even replace your screens.

First, she offers a couple of different ways to repair small damaged spots.  

Jill says, for minor splits or slits, a simple needle and thread may be enough to do the trick. Just sew the split closed with a needle and thread. It won't be the best looking repair, says Jill, but it is a simple quick repair that will get you through until you feel the need to make a more professional repair.

For smaller repairs, you can also buy small squares of adhesive backed screen made specifically for small repairs. All you have to do is peel the backing off and press it onto the screen like a sticker. It's easiest to do this if you have the screen lying flat on a table, workbench, or even on the ground.

The best looking fix, by far, says Jill, is replacing the entire sheet of screen. It's a lot easier than you think, and it's really affordable.  

You will need a roll of screen, a package of screen spline, a screen spline roller tool, and a razor knife. All of these will be available at your neighborhood hardware store or one of the big box home improvement stores.

First, you have to remove the old screen. Just lay your screen flat and use the tip of a knife or a scissor to dig out the end of the spline. Once you can grab it with your fingers, you should be able to easily pull it out all around the screen frame. Next, grab a corner of the old screen and pull it out. The entire screen should come out easily.

Now, it's time to put in the new screen.  

Unroll your new screening over the frame and leave at least a couple of inches overlap on all sides. Using the rounded edge of the spline tool, roll the screen into the groove on the frame. Jill usually starts pushing the screen in in the middle of each side of the frame. Then she'll go around the whole frame again. If you're using fiberglass screen, it may not want to stay in all that well. Jill says that's OK.  

Once you've gone around the frame pushing the screen in, you can start installing the spline.  

Start in one corner and start working your way around the frame, using the grooved end of the spline tool to push the spline into the groove on the frame. You can adjust as you go. You may have to back up at times, pulling the spline out, adjusting the screen, and rolling it down again. Just take your time and carefully work your way around the screen. You don't have to push the spline all the way in until you have it the way you want it. Then you can go around with the spline tool one more time and really push it all the way into the groove.

Once you have the screen in the way you want it, it's time to trim the excess screen off the edge. You can do it with scissors, but that probably won't give you the cleanest cut. Jill prefers a razor blade or razor knife. Carefully run the blade down the outside edge of the spline. It should easily cut the screen and give you a very professionally done look to your project.

***IMPORTANT NOTE***  Screens come in different materials and colors.  Splines come in different thicknesses and colors.  You may just want to take one of your old screens, or a scrap of screen and a snippet of spline with you to the hardware store, so that you get a good match.  Jill says, if you're not sure, ask one of the clerks for help.  They'll be happy to give you guidance, and it will probably save you time and money vs. guessing. Jill cautions not to pull the screen too tightly because it will pull the frame out of shape. 

To watch Jill take you through the steps of repairing and replacing screens, just click on the video player above.