Replacing Window Screens

When we went thru the inspection, there was something funny we noticed about the back sliding door. One, that there was condensation on the inside of the glass panes, and two, that there was a frame for the screen, still on the track and everything…but the screen itself had been cut out along the edge.

What? Why?

No idea, fellow reader.

After being astonished at the cost of a replacement sliding screen, and also at how many parts and pieces were available online, we figured this was as good a place as any to start figuring out how to do some of this stuff ourselves!

We trekked down to the local Ace Hardware earlier and asked if they had repair or screen kits or what. While I was looking at doorknobs and trying to make heads and tails of the different combinations of lock styles and security features and colors, Cris came back looking a bit despondent at the fact that there were several sizes of “splicing”, the rubber strip that get squeezed into a groove in the frame to tension hold the screen in place…and we had no idea what we needed. Damn it. Well, we had pretty much expected we would have to make another trip into town, so.

The employees assured us that if the splicing was still intact (expressing the same confusion we did over why someone would cut out the screen but leave the frame like that), we might be able to use what was in there! But, if we came back with at least a piece of it, they could probably match the size if it turned out it was trashed (which we expected it to be, between the hot sun and freezing winter). The screen they sold by the foot and would cut for us, but needed to know what width we needed.

So, we took our stuff home and first lopped off the giant bush by the back window cause Cris couldn’t wait.

Then, with great struggle, we managed to pop the screen off the track without damaging everything else too much, since one of the wheels was already a little broken on one side, in my defense… Lo and behold, the splicing was indeed, intact and not in bad shape (besides where I’d stabbed it with the screw driver a few times trying to start lifting it out) and oh so satisfying to pull out, in one long strip, all around the door. The sad rectangle cutout of left over screen fabric fell out immediately. I jokingly told Cris that rather than measure it, he could just take the splicing and leftover screen back to the store and tell them “we need this much screen”.

After some back and forth over the amount of tasks that were piling up before it got dark, we ‘divided and conquered’ – Cris went back to the store. We found out there is likely a cell phone dead spot somewhere along Grizzly Rd, and we know this because…I picked up a paper bag to put away, looked inside it and saw it was the screen materials. Whoops. Luckily he didn’t get far before he was able to get my messages and turn back around.

But, ultimately, he was successful! Returning soon after with a splicing tool, new splice, and more screen than we needed because they were out of the specific width ours took. But charged the same price. Ok awesome!

First we lay out a drop cloth in the main room…except it’s hotter than hell by this time, late afternoon, especially with no screens on any of the windows, smoke outside, and a dead ceiling fan.

So we trek down to the basement, where it’s much cooler! And more spider-y…first setting up in the living room area, then pretty quickly moving to the bedroom where there was more light, being in the late afternoon by now and on the west side.

We set down the frame, aligned the screen over it after bickering for a bit over how much overlap there would need to be, and a futile attempt to search for clips that ended up not being very necessary.

In theory, one would use the smoother side of the splicing tool to “pre-place” the screen material down in the groove, and that would be what the clips were for. However, after struggling thru one side and saying several times “this is probably easier with the rubber splicing to actually hold it in place”, we abandoned this method and just went straight for the real thing. About halfway down the first side, after having to go past the same spot enough times that the screen ripped, we pulled it all out, took a breath, and restarted.

First blood – Cris – when the splicer got away from under Lynda and got him in the finger where he was holding the screen and splicing in place further down…

Sorry babe.

After some struggle, the first long side, corner, and top edge were in. Lynda’s perfectionism/OCD kicked in and made her fuss over whether the squares in the screen mesh were straight with the frame for the third, deal breaking side, and how to best hold the screen to get just the right amount of taut, without being TOO taut.

Finally, when it was almost too dark to see and we had to flip on the lights (which flickered a bit before finally staying on…), we cut the excess away. Success! Except…how does the handle go on…? They ‘helpfully’ opened it at the store, and now we weren’t sure how it wa supposed to go back together, with vaguer than Ikea illustrations indicating how it fits. We decide to at least get the screen on the frame, and maybe we’ll be enlightened as to how the handle fits on once it’s actually in the frame.

Installing it back onto the frame was just as much of a pain in the ass as getting it off in the first place, and I’m still not 100% sure we didn’t break one of those stupid plastic wheels kicking it into the track…and the handle only mystified us more now.

Does it lock? Nope! (Turns out neither does the back glass door – sssshhhh….) Does it have the new handle we bought for it? Nope! BUT! It does close, it does sort of slide, and it DOES keep bugs out. And it doesn’t even look too bad.

So, success!

Skill acquired – re-splining screens. Tools acquired – spliner tool, extra rubber spline, a strange amount of leftover screen fabric.

Now we just need like 10 more frames for the rest of them…

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