Give Your House More Curb Appeal – Replace Your Metal Window Screens

Lillian SteinBy Lillian SteinNov 5, 20170

New screens make your house look cleaner and more appealing.

If you want to spruce up the appearance of your home’s exterior and make it safe to open your windows for the great weather, consider replacing your metal window screens.

This is a reasonably economical job that you can do in a weekend.

This is What You Will Need

Replacement window screening is installed on your existing screen’s frame. The supplies you will need are: replacement screening, spline, a spline tool, a pair of sharp shears, a knife, and a screwdriver. When shopping for supplies, it’s a good idea to take a small screen (maybe one from a bathroom) as a sample.


Screening material is a fine mesh made of either fiberglass or aluminum. The aluminum variety is usually less expensive, but fiberglass is easier to work with. Both are available at your local home improvement store in a variety of colors. You should purchase lengths of screening long enough to fit your frames with an overlap.

You can easily cut screening material with a pair of sharp shears and manipulate it with your fingers. If you are planning on replacing all of your screens, though, the fiberglass variety is kinder to your hands.


The screen’s frame has a trench or groove on all four sides. Spline is a vinyl gasket that goes into the groove to hold the screening material in place. It is sold in a coil that you cut to fit. You can sometimes reuse your existing spline if it’s in good condition, but be careful removing it. (If you are planning on reusing your spline and are working with different sized windows, mark each length with the size of its corresponding frame.)

Spline Tool

The spline tool rolls the spline into the groove, trapping the screen against the frame. It looks like a plastic pizza roller and is available wherever screening rolls are sold. It will work on either aluminum or fiberglass screening.



Before you purchase supplies, know the width of your largest screen and the approximate length of screening material that you will need. The best way to do this is by measuring each screen size you will be replacing and multiplying that by the number of screens of each size you have.  Screening is sold in rolls of different lengths and widths. Knowing your needs in advance will save you money and time later.  

Preparing The Frame

Preparing The Frame

Remove the old spline by prying it up and out of the groove in the frame with a screwdriver or other sharp tool. Once the spline is out of the groove, the old screening fabric will lift out and can be discarded.

Once the old material has been removed, clean the frame thoroughly and allow it to dry.

Preparing The Material

Preparing The Material

The screening fabric should be cut the size of the frame plus a one to two inch overlap on all sides. If the screen is ten inches square, you should cut a piece of fabric twelve to fourteen inches square. After you have replaced a few screens, you will know what kind of overlap you are comfortable with.

If you are refurbishing more than one screen, don’t cut all of the fabric at once. Most homes have screens of different sizes, and you will be better able to make the most productive use of the screening fabric if you plan out how you are going to cut it.

Also, if you make any mistakes, you want to have sufficient material for a do-over. If everything has already been cut, you might not have the length of material you need for an unexpected fix.

Select a frame to work with, and place it on a level surface. Cut a piece of screening fabric to fit the frame. The best way to be sure that you have a good cut is to measure the frame ahead of time, rather than just eyeballing it, and then measure the fabric with a measuring tape or yard stick. Cut the fabric carefully, and try to keep your cuts straight. If you are having trouble, mark the fabric with chalk to give yourself a cutting guide.

Preparing The Spline

Measure a length of spline along the groove around all four sides of the frame, overlapping the ends by a few inches, and then cut it. If you are trying to recycle your old spline, make sure it has no nicks or tears.

Installing The Screening

Installing The Screening

Center the screening material on top of the frame, making sure that you have one to two inches of overlap on all sides. Start about an inch down from one corner and position the spline along the groove. Roll and press the spline into the groove with the spline tool. Roll the tool firmly, keeping the spline straight.

When you come to a corner, use a screwdriver or similar tool to maneuver the spline around the angle. Make sure that the fabric is taut and continue along all four sides until you come back to your starting point.

Overlap the spline and then press the ends firmly into place. Make sure that the spline is tightly seated in the groove and the screening material is taut across the frame. Use a knife to cut off the excess spline, being careful not to pull it out of the groove.

Double-check to make sure that you like the results, and then cut off the excess screening material.

Repeat this process with any remaining frames that you have.


You may want to choose a work area that is elevated, rather than using the floor.  Your back will thank you. With proper caution, your newly refurbished screens will give you years of service, but just in case, keep some extra screening material around for patches or replacements.

Once you have a rhythm going, you can replace all of your household screens in a weekend with time left over to celebrate.

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