window screen replacement

Angie's How To replace a window screen

Date Published: July 22, 2014

Time: 15 Minutes

Cats, hail, sun and kids all take a toll on window screens. Over time, they get reduced to shabby tatters and provide a way in for pests.
Luckily, replacing screens in windows and most doors requires an inexpensive repair that homeowners can conquer with a few tools.

Tools & Materials Needed 
Utility knife
Thin flathead screwdriver
Spline roller tool
Heavy duty scissors
Spline (the rubber cord that holds the screen in place)
window screen replacement
1Compile your materials

Before heading off to the hardware store, take a look at your screen. Older storm windows often have aluminum screening, which gets dints and dings when something hits it. Newer windows contain fiberglass screening, which often falls prey to cat scratching. It’s normally black, although some homeowners prefer gray.
At the hardware store, purchase new spline and a screen tool, which are normally stocked alongside the screening.


If your windows are less than 10 years old and in good condition, you can probably reuse the old spline. The screen tool looks like a handle with a roller on either end.

window screen replacement
2Remove the old screen

Take the small frame that the screen fits in out of the window frame. Normally, little metal pins hold the frame in place. Sometimes small spring-like brackets on the top hold it in place, so you have to lift it up to remove.
Set the frame down on a hard, flat surface. You may want to place it on an old sheet to avoid scratching the frame.
Take the screwdriver and pry out the old spline. This is the cord that sits in a little trough around the inside edge of the screen frame.


Once you’ve pried up a large enough piece of spline to grab, the rest of the cord should come out easily.

window screen replacement
3Cut the new screen

With the spline out of the way, pull off the screen.
Roll out the new screen over the frame. Cut the screen so it overhangs at least an inch on the top and bottom. Don’t worry about extra length on the side.

window screen replacement
4Insert the spline

Pull the screen taut, but not so tight that it stretches out the screen or bends the frame.
Starting with one side, set the spline over the trough and roll it in with the screen roller tool. To turn the corner, you might need to poke it into place with the screwdriver, then resume using the spline roller tool on the next side.


Once you make it around, trim the spline with the scissors, then go around once more with the spline roller tool to make sure it’s secure.

window screen replacement
5Trim screen and re-install

Once you’ve installed the spine completely, cut away the excess screening. Do this by tracing the utility knife blade between the spline and the top of the trough.
Don’t rush it. You don’t want the blade to slip and scratch up the screen or cut your finger.
Peel away the excess.


Now you’re ready to re-install the screen into the window frame and start on the next one.

Leave a Comment - 4


Butch Rambish

Subject: Screening suggestions

I disagree with the statement about reusing the spline. I do this every day and NEVER reuse the spline. The spline is greatly impacted by the weather. It can lose it's elasticity very quickly or even become brittle in less than a year. The spline is relatively inexpensive and is critical to the success of your project.

Also, when you go to buy spline be sure you buy the right size. It might be helpful to take some of your old spline and buy a size that is just slightly bigger since over time the spline adapts to the spline groove and does not return to its original size.

Butch Rambish

Subject: Screening

There are also reliable screening specialists on Angie's List that can take the worry and risk out of this project for you. They carry all the various sizes of spline, different screen materials and the frame to replace damaged frames. They can do it at your home in a single trip so you do not have to even remove or install the screens.

Search for window screens on Angie's List.

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