Saturday, July 27, 2013

How to make wood window screens 11: Installing the screening material and finishing your screen

The sky is just lightening, birds chittering, cats only just waking, I'm sitting here with my first cup of coffee, and I am excited for two reasons. One, because I am going to spend the entire day where? You guessed it. In the garden! We've had 100 degree weather for most of three weeks then three days of rain, and the vines and crabgrass and poison ivy have just exploded. Today should be partly cloudy and 84 degrees. Perfect for a long mid-July day of battling weeds.

But second and at long last. Today. Right this minute. Finally. Woohoo. The long promised final post on installing screening.

Whew! We are almost done. (Well, with a demonstration of screenmaking, that is. Personally, I still have many, many screens to make). In this post we will cover how to install the screening material and finish your screen. These are the steps remaining:

10. Put the screening in
11. Nail the trim over the screening
12. Put in the fasteners and install the screens

10. Put the screening in

Here we are with our screening. Charcoal grey aluminum screening. We picked it up at our favorite local hardware store, the Melrose Lumber and hardware store right around the corner.

It's quite a bit longer than our frame, as you can see.

We start by unrolling it and--without cutting anything--begin by placing one end of the screening material along one edge of the frame. We square it up (and here is where two people are handy), I hold it even while Capel staples, beginning in the center and working out from the center alternately on both sides.

You can see we have left overlap on both sides. Leave enough to make it easy to grasp the screening material and pull it taut, don't skimp.

Here's a close-up. There's nothing fancy here. In fact our stapler may not be strong enough, because our staples don't go all the way in and we wind up having to hammer them flat. Hopefully, you have a better stapler than we do.

Now we are working on the side that is OPPOSITE to the first side we already stapled, and you can see me pulling the screen taut. Not too tight, or you will get wavy unevenness, just taut and even. Screening has lines and you can pretty easily see when it is straight.

Once the two opposite sides are stapled, we cut off the end of the screen, so the roll of screen is not in our way. That first cut we do with those yellow metal shears you see off to the left, and we do not cut it too close, so there is still four inches or so hanging off the second side that we just stapled.

And here you see a corner of the second side up close. 

Now we work on the third side, here you see Capel holding the screen and stapling as he goes (leaving me free to take a photo). Again, he starts with one staple in the center and then works out alternately on both sides. When that's done, he staples the fourth side, opposite.


Now we've stapled all four sides and since the staples are sticking out, I invent a way to hammer them down without gouging out the screen frame ...

Then Capel takes a box-cutter with a new, sharp blade and cuts the screen around the edges, putting the edge of the blade right up into the edge of the rabbet. The screen can get a little torn and raggedy-edged on this step, but as long as the part that will be visible is not mangled, you'll be fine, don't worry.

11. Nail the trim over the screening

Now we are ready for step 11. All the edges are trimmed, and we lay out each piece of trim. As I explained some time ago, we cut each piece of trim to fit the rabbeting in each screen exactly and labelled the pieces with tape flags and sewing pins, so these pieces were labelled Screen 5T (for top), 5B, 5L and 5R. Here they are laid out.

And, again, a close-up.

A close-up of one of the tape flag labels, 5L.

Now, we start fastening them down. We're using wire nails 1/2" by 19. You want to make sure they will go through the trim, screening and into the frame, but not be so big that they will split the trim. They're really minuscule and yet they work and are remarkably easy to put in.

So here is the first piece in.

And now the second, and then we just work all around in a circle (rather than doing opposite sides), to make sure the mitered corners are snug and matched up as we go. You don't have to worry about putting too many nails in. Fewer is better. Just enough to hold the trim on and keep the screening secure. The staples are doing most of the work of keeping the screening attached to the frame.

And, that's all. It's finished. Now, these screens are under a porch, so I didn't countersink, fill and paint the nail holes. I might do that when I get to the second story screens. Not sure. I haven't seen any rust stains on the screens we made last year.

The reason not to counter-sink and fill them would be to leave them visible so that the trim can easily be removed if the screening ever needs to be replaced. Your call.

12. Put in the fasteners and install the screens

And that's it! The screen is in the window. What an amazing feeling!!!

'Yay,' says Minky, who discovers it within 3 seconds flat, natch. 'A new perch!'

For the entire series on making wooden window screens, click on the category "How to Make Wood Window Screens Series", in the Topics list along the right-hand side of the home page. There is also now an index tab at the top of the home page, listing all the posts in sequential order, with a link to each one.


  1. I never thought it'd be easy to make a window screen. I'll try making some for our new windows. They'll be installed tomorrow, and I think my contractors can also install the screens for me. Thanks for the tutorial, Sherry!

    1. Ryann - Thanks for the note! I'm glad the directions could be helpful. Let me know how it turns out. Sherry

    2. Thanks for your post which is truly informative for us and we will surely keep visiting this website.
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