You probably don’t think too much about your window screens—they let in breezes and keep out bugs, and as long as they’re doing their job, they are one of those things around the house that most people forget about unless something goes wrong.
With some basic maintenance, your window screens will last for years. Read on for easy but important things you should be doing to keep them in tip-top shape.
Parts of a Window Screen
Before you can properly care for your screens, it helps to understand the three different parts of a typical screen:
Frame: Most screens are made of an aluminum or fiberglass frame that holds the screen in place and fits into the window. (If you have a home with old windows, your window screens may be made of wood.)
Screening: Steel or aluminum mesh used to be the most common material used for window screens, but today, most screening is made of fiberglass screen mesh, a durable fabric that is flexible, inexpensive, and easy to install. You can buy replacement screening in large rolls at home improvement stores; it’s available in a range of sizes and colors.
If you or someone in your home suffers from allergies, you may want to consider installing air filtration screens that can help you enjoy fresh air despite pollen and other allergens. These screens are made of multiple layers of screening to filter out smaller particles than a typical window screen.
Spline: Spline is the vinyl cord that fits around the frame opening and holds the screen tautly in place. Spline is pushed into a narrow channel that runs around the perimeter of the frame’s opening. To push it into place you need a spline roller, a special tool that looks like a miniature pizza cutter.
Maintaining Your Screens
1. Clean them regularly. Every three months (and more often if you live in an area with lots of dust, pollen, or insects) use a soft-bristled brush or the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to remove dust and debris from the screens. For stubborn stains, gently wipe screens with a soft cloth or toothbrush dipped in a bucketful of warm water and mild soap. In between cleanings, run a lint roller over the screen to pick up dust and pollen.
• Look for damage. Pets, kids, weather, and the passage of time can take a toll on your screens, so make it a point to check for wear and tear at the start of each season. Look for rips, tears, or holes and repair them to keep out bugs and dust. Small holes can be patched with a Frost King Screen Patch If damage is more extensive, you may need to re-screen the frames entirely. Start by laying the frame on a flat surface and removing the damaged screening and spline. Unroll fresh screen fabric over the frame, allowing for a ½” overlap on all sides. Holding the fabric tight, use a spline roller tool to roll the fabric into the groove around the frame opening, then press the spline into the groove to secure the fabric.
2. Replace old screens. If your screens are too damaged to be salvaged, replace them entirely with B. Marvin Adjustable Window Screens. This affordable replacement screen installs in minutes and is available in more than a dozen sizes. Watch this video to learn how to install them, and for tips and tricks to make the screens more pest proof and stable:
These screens are also available with an air filtration screen to keep out pollen and other allergens.
3. Remove screens during the winter. To help your screens last for years, it’s a good idea to remove them during the harsh winter months. Label each screen so you know what window it goes in, then store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Before you re-install them in the spring, lay the screens out on a sheet or towel and vacuum on both sides. Lift the screen into an upright position and gently wipe each side of the screen with a mixture of mild soap and warm water. Rinse with a hose (use gentle pressure to avoid damaging the screens!) to remove all the soapy residue and let air dry. Never use a pressure washer: the force of the water can rip the screening or bend the frame.