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Replacement Window Screen Buying Guide

Two-story brick house with a second floor sunroom.

Updated January 6, 2020

Valerie A.

By Valerie A.

Window screens keep insects out of your home as well as fresh air and light in. When it’s time to replace worn or torn window screens, we’re here to help you make the right choice from the available screens to fit your home and needs.

Screen Mesh Types

A fiberglass screen inside a white framed window.

Fiberglass screens are flexible, durable plus they resist dents, unraveling, creasing and corrosion. Fiberglass screens provide good air flow as well as good outward visibility with minimal sunlight glare.

Aluminum screens are also durable and don’t tear as easily as fiberglass. They’re rust resistant and won’t sag.

Polyester screens are resistant to tears and more durable than fiberglass. They’re also rust, heat, fade and pet resistant, and work great as solar shades.

Stainless steel screens are an excellent choice for high-traffic areas. They’re corrosion and fire resistant, provide good ventilation and great outward views.

A screened-in porch with copper screens.

Copper screens are an excellent choice for coastal regions and inland. They’re durable, strong and used for insect screens. Copper screens provide beautiful architectural accents, and you’ll likely see them installed on historic landmark homes.

Screen Properties and Purposes

Elements of a good screen include durability, adequate ventilation, outward visibility and protection from insects. And don’t forget about curb appeal. Some screens can give the windows a dull appearance, while other screens are nearly undetectable from the outside.

Standard screens have a mesh size of 18 by 16, meaning there are 18 squares per inch from the top left corner to the top right corner (also referred to as warp) and 16 squares per inch from the top left corner to the bottom left corner (also referred to as fill).

For porches, patios or pool areas, specialized larger-width screens are available. These are designed to be strong enough to enclose large openings where extra strength is needed across the wider span.

Pet Screens

Before and after of a dog behind a screen.

Pets can unwittingly cause tears and damage to window screens. Pet-resistant screens are designed to be heavy-duty, durable and withstand pet damage.

Solar Screens

The more open the screen’s mesh, the more sunlight and heat that filter into your home. Solar screens provide heat and glare control. They also decrease the ambient temperature indoors by blocking up to 90% of harmful UV rays into your home. This helps protect your furniture, carpet and other fabrics from fading as well as lower energy costs. 

No-See-Um Screens

While standard screens work to keep some insects out, others are designed to be more insect repellent. No-see-um screens, also called 20-by-20 mesh, are tightly woven screens typically made from fiberglass. The fine mesh protects against tiny insects, like no-see-ums, biting midges, gnats and other miniscule insects, while still allowing airflow in. It’s especially helpful in coastal or marsh areas.

Privacy Screens

For privacy and visibility, screens with fine wire (such as solar screens) offer a retreat from prying eyes during the day without sacrificing outward visibility.

Screen Tools

  • Spline is a vinyl cord that’s used to secure the screen material to the screen frame.
  • A screen rolling tool is used to gently roll the spline into the screen frame. Many spline application tools have a convex roller (used to push the screen down into the grooves) on one end and a concave roller (used to push the spline into the channel and lock the screen in place) on the other.
  • A flathead screwdriver is a good tool to use to gently pry up the old spline in preparation for adding new spline and screen material.
  • A utility knife can cut screen overhang and excess spline.
  • Heavy-duty tape secures and immobilizes the frame to the work surface as you insert the screen.

Screen Patch and Repair

Screen patch and repair kits, either self-adhesive or nonadhesive, are great for repairing small holes. Larger tears or holes are repairable, however, you may want to consider replacing the entire screen for better aesthetics.

Read Repair or Upgrade a Window Screen for more on repairing a window screen.

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