Weekend Project: Replace or Install Porch Screening

Weekend Project: Replace or Install Porch Screening

If you have an older home with a screened in porch, then the method used to install the screening is probably the same method that’s been around forever. This usually involves stretching large portions of screening while nailing or stapling every few inches. In most cases the seams are covered with a painted piece of trim or lath. This method of installing a screen does not involve any complicated tools or know-how, but it has many flaws. It is difficult to stretch the screen evenly and as a result, the screening noticeably sags over time. If the screen is in need of repair, then the painted trim must be removed along with a large section of screen and many, many fasteners.

If the rest of your screen is in relatively good shape and only one section needs to be repaired, then it might make sense to stick with the above method and just do the required repair. To do so, position the screen mesh so that it is square with the framing. Next, stretch the screen as tightly as possible. Attach your first staple at the top and center. Work your way outward by stapling every 2 inches. Next, attach the bottom of the screen using the same method, followed by doing the sides in the same fashion. Cover the seams with a strip of batten or lath.

If the entire screen has sagged, torn or is just plain old and needs replacing, then now would be a good time to explore other methods of screening a porch. One of the more popular choices for installing a porch screen is a spline screening system. A spline system uses strips of track (usually vinyl or metal) that are fastened to the porch framing which have grooves that, when used along with the vinyl splines, will hold the screening material in place. The spline is installed into the screening using what is known as a roller knife. The roller knife basically has a wheel with a groove, similar to a pulley, which pushes the spline and screening into the groove of the track. This is a very forgiving method of installing screening, since if a wrinkle appears while installing, then simply pull the spline out enough to straighten the wrinkle and then just continue down again. A piece of accompanying trim then snaps in place over the track. This is a superior system, since there is little to no chance of sagging, and incremental repairs are much simpler. There is no need to remove staples, etc.

A third option would be the use of removable screens. This would require a precisely measured framework in which to install the screens, but repairs are made much easier, since individual screens can be removed, fixed and replaced. Making your own screen frames is not overly difficult, though accurate measurement is key. If you would rather, it is possible to simply take down the measurements and have the screen frames made for you.

If you have an open porch that has only posts, then additional carpentry would be needed to install a screen system. You must install a top plate and a sill plate, as well as studs and rails on which to install your screening or spline tracks.


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