Replacing a window screen.  Basic Window Repairs:

Replacing A Window Screen


In This Article:

The torn fiberglass screen is removed from a storm door and replaced with new screen and spline material.

Related Articles:

Skill Level: 1-2

Time Taken: 1 Hour

By , Editor



This storm door screen was splattered with paint and had a long gash that was patched with a sewn-on piece of screen fabric (red arrow).

 Torn window screen



The black rubber strip (called a spline) holds the screen into the frame. 

I used a screwdriver to pry up the end. I found it easiest to work on a rug on the floor.

 Removing screen spline from window frame.



Once the spline was pried up I simply pulled it out of the groove. This screen has four spring-loaded catches that hold the frame into the door. 

The spline had been cut at each catch, so I used a scratch-awl to pick at the end and pry it up.




Same as before... pry the end up and pull the spline from the groove.




The previous installer must have inserted the catch pins after the screen was put in. Most window screens don't have these little catch mechanisms. This one took some careful prying to get apart.



  The metal pins were removed. 

The old screen was simply pulled up from the frame.




I bought a 25 foot roll of fiberglass screening because I have several screens to make. Smaller rolls are available at not much of a savings.

I unrolled the new screening next to the old piece, and cut the mesh about 1/2 inch longer.




There are two common diameters of spline material, .175" and .125". This is the larger size. Luckily it fits the groove in the old frame.


Note the ribs around the spline. I figure these keep the spline in place.




I left about 1/4" overlap on the first corner.

The spline roller is used to push the rubber spline into the groove.




The spline roller looks like a double-ended pizza cutter. One roller has a groove. This end is used the most.

This tool costs about $2.50 at Home Depot.




After the first corner is anchored, the opposite end of the screening is pulled taut to prevent waviness in the finished job.



The spline is laid out along the first groove and then pushed into place with the roller.

I had the best results when I used two hands on the roller. It takes a fair amount of force to push the spline into the groove.

Pushing screen spline into groove.



At the end of the first stretch, I used a flat screwdriver to push the spline into the corner.




I looks like I might have cut the screening too small.

Once the spline was inserted up to the second corner I realized that I did have enough screen (but barely).




Now the screen is pulled across the frame and held in place (with my knee) while the spline is pressed in place.




The spline is in place on all four sides.

A sharp knife is used to cut the spline.




The pizza roller is used to finish inserting the spline.

Notice the slight warp to the long side of the frame (red arrow). The tightness of the screen may have flexed the frame into an hourglass shape.

 window screen with curved side ral.



I'll ignore the warped frame and continue. The excess is trimmed off with a sharp knife.

The finished product. I would be done if the screen had no special pins for holding it in place.




I've never dealt with these little pins before. I pried up the spline at the pin hole and cut out a small section.




The pin is inserted. There is a tiny coil spring inside the frame. One of them was dislodged in all the handling, but I was able to find it by sticking my awl into the hole and tilting the screen until the little rascal slid down.



The little plastic sleeve is pressed onto the pin.

The spline is pressed back in place with a screwdriver.




Ummm... Ooops!! The screen frame fits tight at the top, but in the middle it is too narrow! 

The gap (between the red arrows) is just a bit too big to keep out bugs. (I didn't claim to be an expert, did I ?)




 So, I took the screen back out and removed only the two pieces of spline in the middle of the long frame rails. (Because of the cuts made for the hold-in pins, the spline is now in segments.) I carefully straightened the aluminum frame tubing.

Whew! There was just enough screen to fit. After my first attempt the frame was about 1/2" narrower in the middle than the top or bottom.




The splines were re-installed, with a lot less tightness to the screening material. The frame ended up being about 1/8" narrower in the middle. The gap at left is good enough for me.

The finished product looks much better than before. Total time, including fixing my goof-up, was under an hour.





Tools Used:

  • Screwdriver, Flat Blade
  • Scratch-Awl
  • Sharp Knife
  • Scissors
  • Screen Spline Tool


Materials Used and Cost:

  • Screening - $1.20
  • Spline - $0.50
  • Total - $1.70


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Copyright © 1999-2003

Written May 6, 1999
Reformatted February 4, 2003