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How To Replace a Window Screen (2024 Guide)

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worker installing mosquito net wire screen on house window

Author Image Written by Jessica Wimmer Updated 06/06/2024

A window screen prevents insects and debris from entering your home while allowing air to flow through the window. You may need to replace your screen if it’s damaged to protect your home and improve its appearance.

Learning how to replace a window screen is a simple DIY project that most homeowners can tackle. Below we’ll provide a step-by-step guide to replace a window screen and explain how to care for your new screens once they’re installed.

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When To Replace a Window Screen

Most screens have little effect on the natural light in and view from a room, but they can enhance your environment by providing fresh, bug-free air. However, window screens don’t last forever. Look out for these common signs that it’s time to replace a window screen.

  • Age: Window screens rust and deteriorate slowly over the years due to constant exposure to the elements. Screens in the shade may last longer than those in direct sunlight.
  • Difficult to open or close: A warped or damaged screen makes it difficult to open or close the window. If you notice any decrease in window functionality, it may be time to replace the screen.
  • Fading: Constant exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) rays will cause your window screen to fade or discolor. Faded screens are vulnerable to additional damage, and they can diminish your home’s curb appeal.
  • Signs of damage: Inclement weather, insects, old age, and a number of other factors cause rips and tears in your screens. When you see visible signs of damage, it’s time for a replacement.
  • Shiny screen: Many window screens have a protective coating that helps block UV light from entering the home. Shiny screens have lost this protective coating and need to be replaced.
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Window Replacement

Window replacement typically costs $300–$2,000 per window, depending on the window type.

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Window Repair

Window repair typically costs $177–$623, but it can vary based on the type of repair.

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Window Cleaning Cost

Window cleaning typically costs $80–$430 for an entire home.

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How To Replace Your Window Screen

Replacing a window screen is a relatively simple DIY project you can do over the weekend. Most homeowners pay $40 to $1,000 for DIY window screen replacement. However, costs depend on the materials and the type of screen. Follow the steps below to learn how to replace a window screen yourself.

*Costs sourced from contractor estimates used by Angi.

Step 1: Get the Right Window Screen

Before you replace your window screen, figure out what type of material your screen is made of and purchase a replacement in the right size. The most common screen material is fiberglass mesh. Other popular options include aluminum screens and solar screens.

  • Fiberglass screen: This material is the most affordable and easy to install. Fiberglass comes in several different colors, such as gray and charcoal/black.
  • Aluminum screen: Aluminum works for most projects and is less visible. It is durable and resistant to sagging. Aluminum screens come in bright or charcoal/black finishes.
  • Solar screen: Solar screens are energy-efficient and block heat, UV damage, and glare from the sun. Because they block out light, they help to protect your curtains and carpets from fading while providing additional privacy.
  • Security screen: A security screen uses stainless steel mesh to prevent forced entry while providing ventilation.

There are various window screen types available through top window brands. Popular types of window screens include the following:

  • Adjustable window screens: This type combines two overlapping window screens and expands to fit your window. Adjustable screens work even without a frame.
  • Flat window screens: This is the most cost-effective and basic window screen. They’re easy to install and remove but susceptible to damage.
  • Half vs. full window screens: Full screens cover the entire window, while half screens cover a portion of the window. Casement windows often have full screens; double-hung windows typically have a half screen on the lower sash. Half screens aren’t as effective because they don’t cover the entire window.
  • Retractable window screens: This screen type has a self-storing design that can roll up or fold away when not in use. Retractable screens can be applied to almost all types of top-quality windows, including casement windows and double-hung windows, but they’re more expensive than flat window screens and challenging to install.

Take frame and window measurements to ensure you buy the right size screen. If the screen is 36 inches or taller, it must have a center support to prevent bowing. Window sizes vary, but the average sizes are 18 inches by 20 inches to 36 inches by 74 inches. Screens outside of these sizes require a custom order.

Step 2: Gather the Necessary Supplies

Here is a list of supplies you may need to replace your window screen:

  • Brick
  • Clamps
  • Roll of window screening
  • Scissors
  • Screen rolling tool
  • Small flathead screwdriver
  • Spline
  • Utility knife

Step 3: Remove the Old Window Screen

Remove the old window screen by taking the following steps:

  • Remove the screen from the window: Place it on a flat work surface and use a flathead screwdriver to remove the spline around the perimeter of the frame. The screen spline is a cord, typically made of vinyl, rubber, or foam, around the screen that secures the mesh screen to the window screen frame. If the spline is wood, it’s typically fixed to the frame with staples or nails, and you can use your screwdriver to remove the staples or a claw hammer for nails.
  • Dispose of the old screen: Before just throwing it away, consider reusing your old screen in a new way.
  • Consider replacing the spline: If the spline looks brittle or old, you can find a replacement at most home improvement stores, but make sure to purchase the right size. Splines are measured by diameter and need to be thicker than the grooves in the frame.

Step 4: Wash the Window Frame

If the window frame is dirty, wash it before installing the new screen. Dirt and pollen can collect in the corners and creases, and installing a new screen is easier when there’s no debris. Make sure the frame is completely dry before installing the new mesh.

Step 5: Cut the New Window Screen Mesh

Roll out the new screen mesh over the window frame. Leave an extra 2 inches of mesh material on all sides to ensure a secure fit. Use your scissors to cut the screen to size for a perfect fit.

Step 6: Attach the Screen

Follow the steps below to attach the screen:

  • Pull the new screen tightly over the frame and use a clamp or tape at the top and bottom of the frame.
  • Take the screen rolling tool and use the convex wheel (which is grooved outward) to push the screen into the grooves of the frame.
  • Secure it to the frame by pushing the spline into the channel using the convex side of the spline roller. If you have a wood frame, staple the mesh or nail it with wire brads.
  • Keep the material taut over the frame but don’t over-stretch the material. If it’s too loose, the screen will sag, but if it’s too tight, the tension can damage the sides of the frame. One way to ensure a taut fit is to place a brick or heavy object in the center of the screen after rolling in the screen on two adjoining sides.
  • Remove the brick after installing the mesh along the two remaining sides. If you notice wrinkles or bulges in the mesh, remove the spline and try again. 

Step 7: Trim the Excess Material

Use your utility knife to trim the excess mesh along the new spline. Angle the blade of the knife away from the spline to avoid damage. If you’re installing a wooden frame, take this time to secure loose joints, fasteners, or screws.

Step 8: Reinstall the Window Screen

Put the new screen back into the window.


How To Care for Your New Window Screens

After installing your new screens, you’ll want to ensure they remain in good shape for years to come. There are several ways you maintain your window screen replacements.

  • Remove screens in the winter: Since you likely won’t open your windows when colder weather strikes, remove your screens and store them in a dry place for the season. Protecting them against snow and ice will prevent damage.
  • Vacuum screens: Using a handheld vacuum, remove dust and spider webs when you notice they’re dirty. Once per year, remove the screens, lay them flat, and vacuum them.
  • Wash your screens: Clean screens annually by removing and washing them with a mixture of 1/4 cup of dish soap and 1/2 gallon of water to remove pollen and other debris. Allow them to dry before reattaching them.

DIY vs. Professional Window Screen Replacement

DIYers who feel comfortable with simple home improvement projects and have the required tools can likely handle rescreening on their own. Replacing a window screen is a quick DIY job, but sometimes it’s better to call a professional. A professional window installation contractor can help save you time if you have several screens to repair. You may want to hire a pro if you need a custom screen or you’re using material that’s difficult to cut. Labor costs $15 to $50 per screen, excluding materials.


Our Conclusion

Your window screens protect you and your home against insects and debris while letting in fresh air. We recommend replacing window screens every 10 years, but if your screen is damaged or shows signs of wear before then, follow the simple steps above to replace your window screen.

DIYers can learn how to replace a window screen, but if you need several replacements or have custom window screens, we recommend calling a pro for the job. Request quotes from at least three professional window installation contractors to find the best fit for your budget. Read our guide on the average window replacement cost if you’re considering full window replacement.

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FAQ About Window Screen Replacement

Can you replace just the screen on a window?

Yes, you can replace just the screen on a window versus the entire frame. This involves cutting out the old screen and replacing it with new mesh material. This is a straightforward home improvement project that most homeowners can do on their own—and that can help save you money. 

What is the best way to clean a window screen?

The best way to clean a window screen is by washing it with warm water and dish detergent or soaking it in a solution made of one part vinegar to three parts water. Take the screen out of the window, apply the cleaning solution to both sides of the screen, and use a sponge, microfiber cloth, or soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the screen and frame. Rinse the screen and let it completely dry before placing it back in the window.

How do you install a new window screen for a sliding window?

How you install a new window screen depends on the screen and whether you have a full screen or a half screen. If you have a full screen, you must remove each window sash to get to the screen. Take the screen and insert the top into the upper window track. Push the screen up from the bottom to compress the springs and insert the base into the lower track.

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