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Window screens are not invincible; too often they tear and break, opening up opportunities for pests to crawl inside your home. If your screen suffers from hole-riddled mesh, don’t lose hope, however: As long as its frame is intact, any screen can easily be fixed to look and function like new.

In the interest of saving time and money, we’ve laid out a simple, comprehensive DIY guide that will teach anyone how to rid window screens of rips in minutes.

Before you begin, have the following tools on hand:

  • Cordless drill
  • Screws
  • 4 – in – 1 screwdriver
  • Utility knife
  • Scissors
  • Awl
  • Screen roller

Choosing a screen material comes next. Fiberglass works exceptionally well, and is preferred as a replacement material for its flexibility. It won’t break easily, allowing multiple attempts in case mistakes are made. Aluminum is sturdier, however, its firmness means you’ll have only one shot at fitting it to the frame. Another option is sun-shading fabric, which shields your carpet, drapes and furniture from fading. It’s also one of the strongest materials available.

When buying screen material, you should have no trouble finding a color that matches prior screens in any of the previous three materials. Keep in mind, screen replacements come pre-packaged in rolls fitting almost any window size, so measure your frame before making the corresponding purchase.

Besides the replacement screen and frame, you’ll also need these materials:

  • Spline
  • Wood stop block
  • Brick (or object of similar weight)

After gathering all of the above, start with step one:

  1. Place the damaged screen on a flat work surface. Pry out the old spline (strip attaching screen to frame) with a narrow tipped screwdriver or awl. Aging spline can crack and weaken, so it shouldn’t be reused; feel free to discard it.
  2. Place two wooden stop blocks against the inner edges of the frame’s two long sides. Secure the blocks to your work surface using the screws and drill. The stationary blocks will keep the frame from bending as you install the new screen.
  3. Position your new material over the frame, and cut with scissors so it overlaps the frame by around ¾ to 1 inch. Then, cut the material at 45-degree angles across each corner, slightly past the frame’s spline groove (the sheet should resemble an octagon after this step).
  4. Take the new spline, and position it on top of the screen material, just outside the frame’s spline groove. Use a screen roller to push the spline into the groove. If wrinkles appear, simply take out the spline and roll again. After rolling the first two connected sides, place a brick (or heavy object) in the center of the screen to create a bit of slack (this will prevent future frame bowing from too much tension), then roll in the other two sides’ spline.
  5. Trim excess material with a sharp utility knife, facing the blade toward the frame’s outside and cutting across the top of the spline.

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