New tricks for fixing screens

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

They say that to keep a dog sharp, you should teach them new tricks every so often. Among my favorites for our dog Lilo are playing dead and rolling over. But one of her most recent tricks she learned herself by watching a doggy friend.

Lilo has learned that if she wants to get outside, all she has to do is paw at the window or screen door. Unfortunately for us, pawing at the screen has resulted in gaping holes big enough for her to jump through. We’ve had to keep our windows closed to avoid not only Lilo getting out when we don’t want her to, but also to keep unwanted insects from entering our home.

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Luckily for us, the fix for a broken window screen is relatively easy and inexpensive. If you have screens you need to fix as well, follow these steps:

First, assess the situation. If the hole is less than 3 inches, you can probably get away with patching rather than replacing. Most hardware stores carry a screen repair kit. The kits typically cost $5 to $10, and come with detailed instructions that are easy to follow.

If the hole is larger than 3 inches, you’ll want to replace the entire screen. Remove the screen frame from the window. Then, lay it on a flat surface. Using a screwdriver, remove the spline (the rubber edging) and the broken screen, working your way around the entire frame until you’re left with a blank frame.

Next, comes the new screen. When shopping for the new screen material, remember that the higher the numbers, the finer the mesh. For example, typical screen mesh is 18 x 16. The numbers tell you how many strands there are per inch in one direction and in the other. So, if you want to keep out tiny insects, you may opt for the finer, 20 x 20 mesh instead.

Roll out the new screen material over the empty frame. Cut it so that you have an excess of one inch on every side of the frame. Place the screen over the frame. Then, measure and cut new spline to hold it in place.

Using a spline rolling tool, start in one corner of the frame and press the spline into the groove, securing the new screen in place. Work your way around the frame slowly, firmly pressing the spline and screen into the grooves. When you’re done, use a razor to trim the excess.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.