blog

Build Custom Window Screens

This Takes 15 Minutes or Less

Get Our Free Master Bathroom Remodeling Guide

Learn how to start and complete master bathroom remodels in 10 Days or Less

Sign Me Up
As Seen On
by Jeff Patterson in Exterior DIY Projects
Custom Window Screens-Build Them in Less Than 15 Minutes

You don’t need to call the local handyman to get custom window screens built.

In keeping with the theme of Home Repair Tutor this project is well worth your time and only takes 15 minutes, even if you’re not particularly handy.

Plus only a few cheap tools are necessary to get this job done.

Here are the supplies you’ll need for a white aluminum screen:

The total cost could be $36.49 if you need to buy all of the tools.ย The actual cost of just the screen supplies is $15.10, which isn’t bad at all.

The screen frame kit is from Home Depot and can make a 48 inch by 48 inch frame. But if your frame is smaller like mine (or bigger) ย you can customize it by cutting the frame rails to size with a hacksaw.

The tutorial I’m sharing today shows me making a brown window screen but the steps are exactly the same for a white version.

I’ll share how to build a custom window screen frame and add the fiberglass mesh.

Let’s get started and before you know it you’ll have a new custom window screen in 15 minutes flat.

Build the Custom Window Screen Frame (Step 1)

If you have an old screen measure it’s width and height.

In my case I needed to made a screen frame from scratch. The total width of the new screen needed to be 30 1/8 inches and the total height needed to be 27 3/4 inches.

My video will walk you through this part of the project but there is picture tutorial as well. I got lucky while filming the video because it was a nice sunny day here in Pittsburgh ๐Ÿ™‚

You’ll need to subtract 1 1/2 inches off your width & height measurements to accommodate the width of the screen frame corners that help connect the frame together. Once you have these new measurements you can use the hacksaw and miter box to cut the aluminum screen frames.

Custom Window Screens-Cut the frame sides to size

With the four aluminum sides of the frame cut you can now join them together with the frame corners. But before you do this make sure to have the recess in the frame where the rubber spline goes facing up toward you.

This will help you construct the frame properly and eliminate unnecessary frustration that may lead to curse words, fist pumping at the sky, etc.

Custom Window Screens-Join all four frame sides together with the frame corners

 

Add Fiberglass Screen to the Frame (Step 2)

Once you know how to replace one fiberglass mesh screen you’ll be looking to do it for all your window frames or sliding screen door.

Here’s the video that shows you this process.

Lay out the screen frame on an even, flat surface.

Custom Window Screens-Lay out the screen frame on an even, flat surface

Lay the fiberglass screen over the frame so that it is 2 inches wider on all sides.

Custom Window Screens-Lay the fiberglass screen over the frame

Place the spline (the rubber tubing) on top of the screen where the recess is located. Embed the spline into the recess with the spline tool (it looks like a pizza cutter).

Custom Window Screens-Embed the fiberglass screen into the frame

Use the utility knife to trim the excess screen. Hold your knife at a 45 degree angle to the screen frame and cut away the excess fiberglass mesh.

Custom Screen Frames-Cut away the excess fiberglass mesh

Go back over the spline one more time with the spline tool and you’re done. WooHoo!!

Custom Window Screens-Go back over the spline one more time with the spline tool and you're done

 

What’s Next

You can do this project at any time during the year and chances are high you’ll do it better than someone at the hardware store.

Our other tutorial shows how to install custom window screens in old window frames.

Also, grab our free guide if you’re doing a DIY bathroom remodel – it shares how to remodel a bathroom in 10 days or less

Send Me The Guide

 

Cheers,

Jeff Patterson

 

 

72 Comments
  1. I love this frame making tutorial.

    Your blog is also nice for learning all home repairing ideas. Thanks.

  2. penster47 says:

    I didn’t watch the video because your pictures were so clear on how to do it except for one minor little thing. What angle do you cut the frame pieces or do you leave then straight since you’re using the corner connectors?

    1. The cuts are straight and the corner connectors will connect the two pieces together. You’ll totally be able to do this project in no time. Once you do one screen the rest are super easy. Let me know if you need any more help, I’d be happy to assit.

  3. Jeff says:

    I am planning to build screens for my windows. My windows are roughly 35″ by 30 and I’ve over 20 windows that I want to have screens. I looked for the frames and I can find the frames for 84″ inch and 48 ” length.
    If I use 84″, I’d be wasting 14″+24″=38″ at the least on each frame. Is there a way that I can avoid so much of waste?

    1. Okay lets think this through in terms of linear feet.

      If you’re windows are 35 inches by 30 inches you’ll need a total of 130 linear inches.

      If you buy the 84 inch and 48 inch frames you’ll have 142 linear inches. So really there’s about 12 inches of waste.

      And if you need 20 screens this adds up quickly. You could search hardware stores and see if they have different lengths that might suite your project a bit better.

      The other tip is to see if someone is trying to sell the frames on craigslist for a reasonable price. But that might be a bit tough due to the quantity you need.

      I wish I had a better solution for you Jeff but it’s a tough one for sure. Let me know what you decide to do.

      I can tell you this, you’ll likely make the screens a lot better than someone else. We had a local hardware store fix a screen at a rental because I couldn’t do it and they totally botched the job.

  4. Gail says:

    Hi, Jeff:
    I have an old window (1881 building in NYC) that has a 36″ opening, NOT including the sash channels on either side (that the sash fits into to slide up and down). I ordered a frame kit with 4 pieces of 36″ frame, but they’re actually 34.5″ long to allow for the corner pieces. Assembled, it’s only going to be 36″ plus the spring clips.
    Thing is, if I get my measuring tape and measure the full width from side to side, it’s 36.75″.
    Do I need to buy the longer frame size? that will mean shipping it back to Amazon. :-(((

    1. Your building has a ton of history, I’d love to see some pics.

      Hmmm, good question Gail about the length of the screen. So the kit you got is basically as wide as the opening, 36 inches.

      If your total frame width is 34.5 inches that means the corner pieces must measure 0.75 inches each. I wonder if you could just get corner pieces that are a tad bit bigger,like 1 inch. That way the screen wouldn’t run the risk of falling out of the opening.

      Do you know if getting wider corner pieces is an option? I know it’s a pain to return stuff and maybe you can avoid it by getting wider corner pieces.

  5. Gail says:

    PS: There is no previous screen: this is an “Old Law tenement,” and the window is between the living room and bedroom (yes, really). You can see examples of these interior windows on the NY Tenement Museum’s website.

  6. Pat says:

    My daughter just bought a house built in 1908, and somehow there is not a screen on any window. I watched your tutorial and am now mass producing screens! Great instructions. Thanks so much for saving us so much money!

    1. That’s fantastic Pat. Congrats on your daughter’s new purchase. Older homes can be challenging but they have a ton of charm.

      Always reach out to me if you have any questions, I’d be happy to help ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Will Chang says:

    This was a great tutorial! So I tried making a few screens yesterday, and one difficulty I had was that it was very hard to keep them from puckering in the middle. They were about 2′ wide and 4′ tall, so quite narrow. I wanted to keep the mesh from being too loose in the middle, but always ended up with a screen that was shaped a bit like an hourglass. How do you avoid doing this?

    1. Thanks Will for your question. I wonder if you could add a “T” to both sides of the vertical bars and add a middle bar that would help retain the shape.

      Do you think this might help prevent the hour glass look?

      1. Matt says:

        Hi Jeff,
        Several different times you recommend adding a horizontal cross support for larger window screens, but I cannot locate any such “T” connector anywhere or some type of tab to add a support bar. Perhaps I am not searching the right thing.

  8. Laura says:

    Thanks for this tutorial, Just had a tenant move out and destroy every screen in the unit, was looking at over $400.00 to have them done. Just redid them all for under $90.00. (prices for things are slightly higher in Canada)

    1. That’s awesome Laura. Well, the part about you saving $300, not the tenant being a jerk.

      I’ve had a few not so nice tenants but all my people now are so nice and super fantastic. Let me know if you’ve got any other questions ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Ryan says:

    Stupid question – I purchased a kit that includes frame pieces, spline and corners. The corners are too big for the frame pieces. They fall out and don’t stay securely. Any issues with this in the past?

    Thanks!

    1. I haven’t had an issue with this Ryan but you should return that kit. The store shouldn’t give you any issues on this one cause it sounds like a manufacturing issue.

      Keep me posted on your situation. That had to be frustrating as all heck.

  10. Jenkins says:

    How do I make the screen longer than 60″ (can’t find any) or am I able to connect two aluminum frames together with a clip for taller windows?

    1. You’re right, you can attach two frames together using the clips that come with the kit. You may have to add a horizontal support so that the frame has some sturdiness. But it should work out pretty good. Let me know how your project ends up ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Marsha says:

    How are you attaching them to the windows? I ask because the two stationary pins (which stick out a 1/4 inch) at the top of my screen frame which slide into their window frame holes were made of plastic and I can’t find replacements anywhere. The plunger pins at the sides are easy to find online. I’m thinking I’ll have to attach them to the outside window frame in another way and wonder what you suggest.

    1. Stores have different accessories of attaching the screens to the window frame. I screwed small brackets into the frame and they hold the screens in place. But your situation is a bit different. So experiment with all the options and see which one works best.

      1. Marsha says:

        I was thinking that was what I should do too. Thank you for taking the time to answer. I really appreciate it. You’re the bomb! Love all your videos too.

        1. Thanks Marsha, you and the rest of the HRT community are the bomb.

  12. Jeanine says:

    My husband and I are in the process of building a 100+ year old farmhouse. All the windows were installed recently, but several of them are missing frames. I’m so happy to have found this tutorial! Now the real question is, will you come fix them for me? lol, jk. Our house is near the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. LOL, wish I could Jeanine.

      Westmoreland county is so pretty.

      I’d love to see pictures of your projects.

      Thank you for renovating a piece of Wester PA history. ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Bernie says:

    Thanks for your patience in putting this tutorial for us. I have questions I hope you can help me with. Is the screen placed In the outside part of window? Or inside of the window? Depending on this answer how do I measure the height and width of the window?
    Thanks in advance.
    Bernadette

    1. Hi Bernie, the screen could go either way depending on your setup.

      Take a close look at your window and check to see if it had a screen, if so you should replace the screen per the old configuration.

      If you’re not sure if there ever was a screen you could choose to put the screen in however way you want.

      Then just measure the height and width of the area where the screen will go. But give yourself a little wiggle room by reducing the size by a fraction of an inch.

  14. Ellen says:

    I measured my window, created the frames and before screening them tried to fit them into the opening. They’re waaay too tight. Is there a rule of thumb to reduce the size by 1/4 to 1/2 inch so they’ll fit and still fit good with tensioners?

  15. Mitch says:

    I recently had to make and install screens to a house without any to use as references to measure. Some of the screens were a little too tight and others are very loose and come out when it’s really windy. What ideas or suggestions do you have to make them stay in. I have considered a few beads of caulk but I was wondering if there is a better way to do it.
    Thanks for any help any of you can give me.

  16. Kisa says:

    Thank you for a great tutorial. I am not a DIY person, but this looks easy and I’m going to try it on a new house I bought. I’m already spending thousands on professionally installed floors so anything I feel confident I won’t mess up will help.

    1. Good to hear you feel like you can do it Kisa, I know you can ๐Ÿ˜€

      Let me know if you have any questions.

  17. Zachary Dockery says:

    Great instructions. How do I secure the screens into the window frame of the house itself?

    1. They make clips for that or you can simply add a few screws if you have wood window frames, it’s not pretty but does work ๐Ÿ˜€

  18. Tony says:

    Great tutorial. I plan to make a couple outside window screens for shading purposes with this screen shade material I got at Costco. How can I attach the screens themselves to the outside of the window frame? (That plastic window frame holds double pane windows)

  19. Lowell says:

    Great tutorial, all of your tutorials are great. Looks like the videos are showing up, though. Something wrong w/ your tubepress plugin or how the shortcodes are being interpreted and delivered.

  20. jo says:

    could I use your tutorial for single pane windows?
    I am not sure if this can only be used for double glazed windows
    thank you
    jo

  21. Michael says:

    An easy project which allows you to repair or replace your torn screen windows, BUT …

    What I’d like to know more about are the available alternative screen materials. Rather than plain vanilla screening that pretty much just keeps the bugs out and lets the breeze in, a mesh material that lets you see out, but not in, and is at least partially reflective so that sunlight coming in is more greatly reduced, would be nice …

  22. Connor says:

    Thank you for this! My measurements were off, so I had to re-cut the aluminum frames, but otherwise, I followed your steps and am now enjoying open windows in the hot weather!

  23. Margot says:

    I’m looking at the instructions on a Screen Kit that comes with 2 spring clips. I believe the 2 clips go on the same side, but the instructions say to substract 1/8″ from height AND width. I think it should be from EITHER height or width depending on which side the clips will be installed on. Is there something I’m missing?
    And, thanks for your instructions. They are very easy to follow.

  24. Victoria says:

    Great tutorial!! I have replaced screen fabric before, but haven’t built my own frames. I got 2 brand new screens at a thrift store for a dollar each that were not the size I needed, so I bought them and customized them for my windows. It works just like the kits. They had all the pieces that the kits do, but I didn’t even have to buy the screen fabric! Instead of buying a spline tool, I had a plastic, round rolling pizza cutter I got for free at a business fair from Round Table Pizza!! It worked a lot better than the actual tool because that roller was metal and cut the screen edges as it rolled. They turned out awesome!!! 2 screens, 2 bucks, and giving to charity…works for me!! Thank you for your easy to understand, simple instructions!!!

  25. Amy Smith says:

    Great article Jeff. The illustrations make it even easier for your readers to follow.

  26. Alexis says:

    Great article Jeff, I was wondering how do I change screens from custom frames already installed on the window? It has a channel that the screen slides up and down in. With tabs that lock it down… Thanks

    1. Hmm, I’d have to see the screens Alexis to really figure that out. You might want to post the question in our Facebook Group

      Here’s the link

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/hrtcommunity/

      Post some pictures and your question ๐Ÿ˜€

  27. maricela says:

    Jeff I have large window.. how can I add a support center bar just to make the screen a little bit more sturdy?

    1. You can add “T” brackets and add another bar in the center of the frame Maricela ๐Ÿ˜‰

  28. Yoichi says:

    Great tutorial! Wow! Super helpful AND best of all… we finally have screens in our kitchen!!! We did not know making them ourselves was so simple. Yes it did take a couple of cuts to get the width right but I think that is because we didn’t have old screens to work off of. Now I am excited to do the whole apt (2 windows down, 7 to go…) One question/comment was about the spline… do you recommend cutting the spline at each corner or “wrapping” it around the corner? We did both and don’t think it made that big of a difference but just wondering what others did?

    1. Awesome!!! Great job.

      In terms of the spline, you could do both. I’ve had about the same result either way ๐Ÿ˜‰

  29. Susan says:

    My screens are held in with pins on the top and lower sides. not well though. do these screens work for this type of window? it so how are they held in?

  30. Kai says:

    Thanks so much for the great tutorial – this saved us from having to spend a bunch of extra money and wait around for two weeks if we’d had our replacement screen made at the hardware store.

  31. Jim says:

    I can’t for the life of me figure out what I am doing wrong. I think the guy at Home Depot gave me the wrong corner pieces because I can’t slide them into the frame. The corner pieces are shaped like an L and apparently they’re suppose to slide into the frame on either end and create that 45 corner degree angle. They come in a package of 4 and they’re plastic.

    DIY Model # SELEPOLY W | Store SKU # 1000138450
    Screen Locking Corners 4- PolyBag- White

    Please help! Thanks

  32. Matt says:

    Thanks Jeff.
    Any trick to doing this job with metal (alumimum) screen instead of the regular fiberglass?

  33. I have tried a few times and just can’t seem to get this right. It might be easier if I had someone who could show me how to do it once. After that, replacing a screen should be much easier. It would also be helpful so that they could show me which screen material would be best to use as a replacement as well.

  34. Toni says:

    How do I add tabs? This is on a second story building and there are tabs on the current screens to get them in and out.

  35. Jim Youmans says:

    I am redoing my screened in porch. We are putting in a 3ft wall then screens on that. Do you thing these would be strong enough? The size would be about 40 x 80. Thanks!

  36. jodi says:

    How would you add extra frame pieces to make the “window pane” look on the screen ?

  37. Cheryl says:

    Thanks, the video gave me the courage to try to fix my own…thanks so much, you made it look so easy.

    1. Thanks Cheryl, glad you liked the tutorials. Let me know if you have any questions.

      1. Cheryl says:

        I was repairing a screen and it looked amazing when I was done and very taut, but I forgot to put in the pull tabs before the spline, so I had to take up one section and although it was a tight fit, it looks pretty decent. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks again!

  38. Jack Zerkoff says:

    Has anyone built a fixed triangular window screen? I am in need of 4. Can’t find info on that yet. They are right triangles, needed for ventilation.

  39. Sarah says:

    I’m in an apartment with no window screens and am tired of living with bugs if I want the window open. I assembled all the screen windows to fit, but mine all bow inward at the middle leaving gaps for bugs to get in! How do I get my frames to stay square? Also, while I’ve got the tension clips at the top to make them stay in the frame, they all tend to lean out at the bottom, meaning I have to wedge rocks and things into the sill to get them to stay flush to the window. Any suggestions? I can’t drill or do anything permanent to the frames, as I am renting.

  40. Mary P says:

    I noticed that you left out installation. Maybe it’s so obvious you felt you didn’t need to explain. Once you’ve built the screen, does it just pop into the window frame? Are there options as to where you place the screen or does it always go just outside the glass window frame?

  41. Bill Stevens says:

    I’ve done a lot of repairs over the years, but I didn’t know it is possible to make one’s frames until today. Thank you!

  42. Paul says:

    Hey Jeff, great tutorial, nice images and videos.
    One thing that confused me though was how to measure the window. You said multiple times to measure the old frame and subtract 1.5″ from both sides to accommodate the framing. What if we don’t actually have an old frame? My building just has the windows themselves and I’d like to build the frames from scratch. How do I go about measuring the windows? What part of the window do I measure to / from?
    Thanks a lot

  43. Willie Walker says:

    where do I find the parts to build the screens

  44. Michelle says:

    Thank you for the step-by-step!
    **May want to update your pricing:

    “Here are the supplies youโ€™ll need for a white aluminum screen:

    White Aluminum Screen Frame Kit = $22.99
    Spline Roller 7.75
    Measuring Tape
    Hacksaw 7.97
    Miter Box 20.67
    Utility Knife

    These Amazon affiliate links help support HRT, thank you for using them
    The total cost could be $36.49 if you need to buy all of the tools. The actual cost of just the screen supplies is $15.10, which isnโ€™t bad at all.”

    As of September 16, 2018, using your links, just the items I would need to buy (priced above) are running over $66.

  45. Michelle says:

    Sorry — forgot the utility knife!

  46. SRQHomeowner says:

    Great tutorial! Really easy to follow. I want to make screens for a sliding door that has two glass panels that meet in the center. So I am thinking this would be a way to save big bucks since the ones that match are about $450. Of course those panel slide on a raised track…
    Any ideas about how to hack this idea for a sliding door?

    1. Marilyn Rowan says:

      I have full screens on all my porch windows. I have half screens on all the rest of the windows on my home. Is there anyway to take and modify the full screens and turn them into half screens without making completely new ones?Thanks

  47. Kasy Allen says:

    Awesome, thanks so much for the help! I’ve had a bent up screen that needed to be replaced for over 2 years now. I ordered a custom one and it never came, so it was time to make it myself! So much easier than I ever expected – thank you so much!

  48. Janine Jeske says:

    how do I secure the screen in place? I have a window, no screen, but there are tiny slots, that I assume hold the tiny biscuits that secure the screen. Can you help me solve the “biscuit” piece. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get Our Free Master Bathroom Remodeling Guide

Learn how to start and complete master bathroom remodels in 10 Days or Less

Sign Me Up