How to Make a Window Screen

Window screens are indispensable in the summer to have air ventilation and keep those nasty bugs out. With this article you can read how to make a window screen with aluminum framing that you cut to size.


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    Measure the height and width of an open window frame. Most aluminum and vinyl frames have a channel for the screen to fit into, so you will need the actual corner to corner dimension inside this channel, minus 4mm or 5mm, about 1/6 in. near 3/16 in. short. Older windows with wooden frames may be trickier, and the corners won't always be square. Ideally, you may be able to use the original screen to obtain dimensions for your new one.
    • The kind of square cut frame corners that are not mitered have what are called "external corners" (vinyl or plastic corner inserts, which can be seen from the outside). These frame pieces must have the size of the corner insert subtracted from the overall length before they are cut to size, to allow for the "visible square corner pieces" at each corner. Normally, these inserts are about 3/4 inch (1.9cm) wide, so cutting the frame sides 1 1/2 inches (3.8cm) shorter will give you the
  2. 2
    Saw the aluminum frame pieces with a hacksaw at the length you measured. You can easily cut a soft metal like aluminum with a hacksaw blade with the right number of teeth per cm or teeth per inch. Find a chart on the packages of hacksaw blades or in a book that will tell you the right number of teeth per cm or teeth per inch for cutting aluminum bars.

    • If this is the mitered kind, you may just mark 45° using a protractor (or use a "miter box" or other mitering saw equipment).
    • If this is a large screen, it may need a "cross brace" cut to width size to fit across half-way of the length to strengthen the frame.
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    Use a metal file to remove any rough edges left when sawing.
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    Using the pieces you cut now connect the upper and lower window corners with 4 plastic or aluminum corner inserts. Mount the cross brace in the middle into the outer frame if so designed.
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    Hold the frame in place. The aluminum framing is soft metal and very flexible and can easily be warped off the straight line (and out of square) as it is screened and splined.
    • Place the frame in the window to control it. Later you will turn it over to have the spline to the inside. Or...
    • If you have a floor area where you can work on assembling the screening material, lay a sheet of plywood so you can nail or screw scraps of plywood onto the plywood sheet to make "guides" to hold the edges of the frames straight and in square as you roll in the screen and spline.
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    Lay the screening material straight on the frame (you need about 1 inch or 3 cm or more oversize around all four sides). With bigger sizes you can span the screen fabric on a few places with small pieces of spline (as retainer) to hold the screen in place until the whole spline can be rolled in.
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    Pull the screening slightly tight, first in the length and then in the width -- being careful not get a warp in the frame or "waves" in the screening material.
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    Press aluminum wire screening material into the slots (channels) using the convex end of the spline roller. You can use short pieces of spline to hold (retain) the screen in place until the whole screen can be rolled in.
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    Press the rubber spline into the frame after the aluminum screen is in the slots with help of the concave end of the spline roller. Roll spline strip in all the way around all four sides. Remove any retainer pieces as you reach their position with the full length spline.
    • Alternatively, you can roll the spline in (with the concave end of the spline roller) at the same time as the screen is rolled in if you use fiberglass or vinyl screening instead of in two separate steps. (Aluminum screening and the spline would be difficult to roll in together in one step.)
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    Cut the unnecessary screening carefully away with a sharp hobby knife. You can do this with a straight edge to guide the cut and prevent you from slipping and cutting into the screen of the window.
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    Turn the window screen for the spline to be to the inside. Position the window for the spring clips upward to fit into the top window slot. Lower the screen frame so that it will be held in place by the lower (retaining) edge, clip or slot.


  • If the frame is intact but the spline has come loose, you may be able to just roll the spline back into place rather than make an entirely new window screen.
  • If stainless steel clips are not provided with a kit, you may want to purchase them separately to ensure a snug and secure fit.
  • You may also be able to find prefabricated frames that are screwed together. The lower and upper frame piece are assembled with 4 screws and a crosspiece is attached with 1 screw on each end. Usually, this is done with long hex screws in nuts and from the sides.

Things You'll Need

  • For an aluminum frame:

    • Kit with frame strips to cut to size
    • Screen material (fiberglass, vinyl or aluminum)
    • Rubber spline (comes in a roll)
    • Clips
    • Hacksaw
    • Tape measure, a meter measuring stick
    • Pencil/Pen
    • Metal file
    • Hobby knife (utility knife) With a blade like a box cutter.
    • Ruler (straight edge)
    • Spline roller

    For the screwed together kind of frame:

    • Screws
    • Cross head screwdriver
    • Nuts
    • Hex bolts
    • Drill
    • Drill-bit from 2 mm
    • Center punch
    • Rubber hammer

Article Info

Categories: Doors and Windows