Kittens look cute hanging from screen doors, until you look closer and realize they’ve torn a set of holes with their infamously sharp claws. There are a couple of different options available for repairing window screens, depending on the level of damage involved, and all of them can be done quickly with some basic tools. That’s good news of us for those of us who aren’t contractors, but sure would like to fix our window screens!
Before you get started, take note of the material used. Some screens are made of nylon, while others are made from metal. Sun-shading material is also used in some cases. You can often tell what a screen is made from by running a fingernail over it or testing it for flexibility in the frame.
If you just have a tiny hole, your best bet is adhesive, just like you’d use to stop a run in a pair of stockings. If you have a metal screen, dab a tiny bit of epoxy on the hole to stop it from spreading and seal it, keeping bugs out. Instant adhesive should be used on nylon screens. Make sure to clean the screen first so you don’t inadvertently trap dirt in with your adhesive material.
Ok, so your kitten got a little more rambunctious than that. You have an actual tear; not a big one, but one large enough that adhesive isn’t going to cut it. For small tears of about one square inch, you’ll need to use snips to even up the edges to create a square hole with clean edges. Then, use the snips to cut out a slightly larger piece of screening material to use as a patch. If it’s made from metal, bend the teeth of the material down so they’ll interlock with the window or door screen when you put it in place. You can apply pressure once it’s positioned to make them buckle back on themselves, essentially acting like staples.
Run an appropriate adhesive along the edges of your patch and carefully lower it over the edges of the hole, allowing it to overlap. Use low-tack painter’s paint to make the patch stay in place while the adhesive dries, ensuring that it won’t peel or buckle. Please note that the patch will be visible when you’re done; if you want a seamless repair, you will need to replace the whole screen.
For especially large holes and damaged screens, you don’t want to mess around with trying to put patches on. Just replace the whole screen, assuming the frame is in good shape. Start by measuring the frame carefully so you know which width of screen material you should buy, and take note of the material used to make the frame. If it’s metal, you’ll need to buy a screen in a matching metal to prevent reactions, or consider using nylon. Wooden frames will take any kind of screen, but metal screens can stain.
Also take a look at the construction. Some screens are made by stapling mesh in place and then nailing molding in over it. In that case, you might need to get some new molding, because it can be hard to remove the mold material without damaging it, and you’ll need to do that to replace the screen. Measure your window to determine how much molding you need and decide if you want wood, vinyl, or another material.