How to Replace a Window Screen


There are 4 things in my house that prove that both it and I are old fashioned.

They are:

1. Aprons

2. 16″ wide pine plank floors

3.  Mouse traps

4.  Window Unit air conditioners

Every summer the fella lugs the window units into the dining room and our bedroom.  I know they’re ugly and horrible, but I kind of like falling asleep to the hum of an old fashioned window unit. What I can’t stand about them is they block so much light.  So as soon as it starts to get even remotely cool out I demand the air conditioner be removed and banished to the basement again.

The other problem with window units is you have to remove your window screens for them to fit in.   So every fall after the window unit comes out I trudge outside with all my screen replacing equipment and get to work putting a screen back in the window.

It takes a total of about 5 minutes and 5 tools to replace a window screen.

Here we go!

How to Replace a Window Screen

Items you need …



Fibreglass screening

(this roll cost $8 and will screen around 4 windows)




Spline comes in a few different sizes.  Bring an old piece of your spline into the store to make sure you’re getting the right size.

(Spline is the rubber rope that holds the screen in.  Cost: $4.79 – enough to do 2 windows)


spline tool

Spline roller.

(This little gadget is is what pushes the spline into the track in your window to hold the screen in. Cost: $6.50)


box cutter

Box cutter




(if you need to know the cost of scissors because you don’t own any, it’s probably because you’re in a nut house.  Best you keep away from the windows in general. )


window screen

Unroll your screen to estimate how much you need.  Cut it off so you have a couple inches extra all around the window.


spline 2

Grab your spline.


window channel

It’s going to fit over the screen, into this channel around your window.


spline tool 2

The spline roller has 2 ends.  One with a groove in it, like you see here, and one without a groove.

Use the end with the groove.  The groove fits over the ridges in the spline and helps it go in straight.


fixing window

Hold your screen up to the window and stick the end of your spline into the corner of a channel.

Push it in tight with the tool.  Holding your screen tight, roll the spline roller along the spline, pushing it into the channel.


fixing window 2

Continue to push the spline in with the roller all around the window.

Make sure you’re always holding the screen tightly so your finished product will be taut.  Not loosey goosey.  (yet more proof I’m old fashioned)

Be careful when using the tool.  It is sharp and if you aren’t careful with it you’ll cut your screen and have to start all over again.


window with screen

Within no time at all your screen will be in.


trimming screen

Now all you have to do is cut the edges off with your boxcutter.


finished window

5 – 10 minutes later … the screen is in.

The same principal works for all window screens, old or new.  This also works for a screen door.  Technically you’re supposed to take the screen out and lay it on the floor to do this job, but my screens don’t come out and frankly, it’s just as easy to do it while it’s up.

This is the perfect example of a job that’s really easy to do but only if you have the proper tools.  You NEED to get the spline tool.  You only need to buy it once and you’ll use it over and over again.  My cats for instance lay in a window and they’re constantly pushing the screen out at the bottom with their enormous cat feet.  Every once in a while I just go outside with my spline tool and push the spline back in.

As far as learning a new word today, I would like for each and every one of you to try to work “spline” into your daily conversation with someone today.  Either that, or nuthouse.  Your choice.


  1. Agnes Boisvert says:

    I used the new word today!!!!
    “Sh*%!!!!!!! My spline roller gave me a %#@&*$% blood blister! OOOOUUUCCCHHH!”

    Regrettably, it was in front of children…but they watch Blue Planet too so, circle of life lesson?

  2. mary says:

    Read this…

  3. Roxanne says:

    For those of you with pets — I recommend Petscreen. I got really tired of repairing/replacing the screen on my screen door after the cats had used it like a piece of exercise equipment. Someone recommended this product to me. I put it into my screen door early last spring — and the screen door is still perfect (even after being used like a piece of feline exercise equipment — by five cats).

  4. ellen says:

    Spline tool – of course! My family of origin was kind of a rough n ready bunch so I always shove the spline in with a screwdriver, my fingers, and a round of curses! Next trip to the hardware store I will have the proper tool.

  5. hayley says:

    Hi Karen,

    I’m in the UK and I’ve never seen window screens here. What is the purpose? So you can open a window and the bugs don’t come in? I guess we just don’t open windows at this time of the year because it’s getting too cold!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Hayley – Really? There are no window screens?! Yes, that’s exactly what they’re for. So you can open the windows and no bugs come in. In the summer if our windows were opened without screens the house would be filled with bees, wasps, mosquitos and flies. Among other things! :) ~ karen

      • hayley says:

        Seriously, never seen a window screen. I subscribe to Martha Stewart Living, and I always wonder about stuff like this! We don’t have storm doors either, whatever they are.

        But we also don’t have many bugs, certainly none that are harmful like mosquitos or poisionous spiders. We get the odd fly. Not as many as I’d like though since I’m dying to try out your ‘how to catch a fly’ technique!

  6. Bri says:

    Does it count if I use “spline” to mean a curve defined by a polynomial? Cause I do that every day at work. My geekery knows no bounds.

  7. Amy says:

    When we had a house like this, my parents just left the window a/c units in all year. Of course, that was until my dad found out that in the winter my sister would crank the unit in her room up to freezing cold and the electric blanket up to ultra hot! He swore he would heat her room or cool the room but he be darned if he would do both at the same time! (but he did teach us how to use the spline tool, too!)

  8. Amy in StL says:

    I learned how to do this when I had a 1920’s era house in Iowa. However, my husband and I just used an old pizza cutter. (We’d consolidated stuff and we had two.) It wasn’t perfect but we were in our early 20s and had bought a house that needed more work than we knew. Which should be a lesson; when buying a house that needs work you should always assume it needs at least twice as much work as you think.

  9. Nicole says:

    Man, thanks for that! Some years ago, I paid a fat, greasy dude $50 to rescreen our screen door, the kind of dude whose pants hung too low and you could see his coin slot in the back…Gaaah, I still have nightmares about it, so much so that I would rather live with a hole in my screens, but now I don’t have to!

  10. Brenda says:

    Thanks for the info but off topic….I love your haircut!

  11. Brilliant! I would have never known how to do this. I’m so excited to replace the screens at my house so we can use our attic fan! (We are old fashioned too!)

  12. Deb J. says:

    I used the word ‘nuthouse’ – as in I am going to end up in one – two summers ago when we took over an old cottage and nearly every screen in the place had a hole in it. I became very intimate with spline and its tool. I mean blisters-on-my-fingers intimate. But worth the effort – no black flies, mosquitoes or larger creatures in the cottage. But one warning – if you are replacing a screen in an aluminum frame, be careful with your tension ‘cos you can end up with an hour glass instead of a rectangle. I found a sort of jig could help the frame keep its shape.

  13. Rachel says:

    This screen concept is weird to me. We just push the whole screen out and pop the whole thing back in, there’s no cutting or trimming and all that.

    On another note, I can’t read your log at my house- it says I’ve been blocked becomes I’m a spammer. Strange, huh?

    • Karen says:

      Rachel – That is odd. I have a feeling it has something to do with my server, which I am working on. People have been having weird problems with not being about to view it etc. etc. so you’re not the only one! Hopefully it’ll be fixed within the next week. ~ karen

  14. Jean says:

    I think I love you… we can’t even open some of our windows because I couldn’t find the old alum screens that fit! I am going to try this right away! Also, working on my abs still. Thanks for the motivation.

  15. KatMoss says:

    I can easily use the word “nuthouse” in my conversation today…i.e., “my husband’s ex-wife should be committed to the nuthouse.” See? I’ve already met your demands and it’s only 7:49am CST. Go me! Thanks for the great tutorial!

  16. Britt says:

    Hahahah oh my goodness, my mother has had that spline tool in her sewing goodies box for soooo long and none of us knew what it was and where it came from! Now I know, and now I can go steal it because I need to replace the screen in my sliding door…
    And I know this MUST be easy to do because you didn’t swear once!!

    • SamiJ says:

      Britt-Make sure it’s really a spline tool — if it’s in her sewing box it could be a Marker’s Wheel for use with dressmaker’s carbon. Or it could be a rotary cutting tool for quiltmaking.

  17. Jacqui says:

    How did you know that this is a job that I need to do and that I am reminded of every time I go in my screen door??? Its a little scary! Does this mean you know ALL my thoughts? If you do, its the nut house for both of us.

    “Spline, spline, spline” – it fairly rolls off the tongue. I will get my tool today. Thanks, Karen

  18. Grace says:


    Once again perfect timing. My screen door was torn up by a dog that I was sitting. I was just going to buy a whole new screen. Thanks for the tutorial.

  19. margie says:

    i am putting in new screens in that are wooden… that will fit right in the window frame and I want to secure them with a ???? a little butterfly like clip that will allow me to secure the screen in and yet be able to remove it when I swerve it around. My question is what are this butterfly like clips called. i live in South American and need to order them from my native canada.
    Thank you so much
    ps. they do not exist in Uruguay…[people screw their screen in right on the frames.

  20. Jamieson says:

    Lucy, you got some splining to do!
    I haven’t done this in a few years since we replaced all of our windows (the cost of which would make you think that I live in a house made entirely of windows). I miss using that little tool! Replacing the screens (after cat/raccoon shredding) was fun!

  21. magali says:

    At this time of the year my screens come out of most of my windows. I love how the outdoors looks a lot brighter without them, makes the darker months feel more joyous!

  22. Jen says:

    Well….it’s official. I’m going to have to get my husband to start reading your blog. I’m positive he would learn a thing or two. You’re one talented chick. Who has chicks. ;)

  23. Farquist says:

    I teach in a junior high and there’s a full moon. I will definitely use the word “nuthouse” today.

  24. Dieu says:

    that’s it? omg. my dogs have turned a sliding screen door into a doggie door at my dude’s place. that he rents. we had no idea how to put it back in so this is fantastic.

  25. JR says:

    Thank you so much for this information. My patio screen door needs new screen and I thought I was going to have to hire someone to do it. This is invaluable to me!

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