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HOME IMPROVEMENT : Repairs Can Help You Screen Out Insects

July 17, 1993|From Associated Press

Get window screens and screen doors in shape so you can deal with the invasion of flying insects.

Black-enameled or galvanized steel wire is no longer used for screening. Both have been replaced by rustproof screening of aluminum or fiberglass.

With reasonable care, modern screening will last for years. Metal screens, especially, will last almost indefinitely if you apply a light coat of spar varnish thinned with mineral spirits each year. Be sure to wash the screens first and let them dry thoroughly before applying varnish.

How to Repair Accidental Holes

Accidental holes are just about unavoidable. When they occur, repair them before you have to replace the entire screen. Here are some tips:

* To fix a puncture in metal screening, cut a patch of the same type of screening about one inch larger on all sides than the hole. Unravel a few strands--about one-half inch--on each side. Then bend the wires at right angles to the patch. Push them through the screen holes and fold them flat on the other side, toward the center. Sew the patch in place with nylon thread and seal the edges with a few coats of clear nail polish.

* Fix dented metal screening by pushing the strands back in place with a pencil or an ice pick.

* If one or two strands are broken in metal or plastic screening, straighten them. Then seal the hole with several coats of shellac or clear nail polish. Let each coat dry before applying the next.

* To fix a hole in a fiberglass screen, cut a patch from scrap one-half inch wider all around. Glue it on with clear all-purpose household cement.

* Mend a long rip by sewing it with thin wire or nylon thread.

* A piece of pantyhose can make a good temporary patch on any type of screening. Secure it with tape.

How to Replace Wood-Framed Screening

* Use a putty knife to pry off the molding. Work carefully so you can reuse it.

* Remove the old screening and all staples or tacks.

* If the frame's joints are loose, re-glue them and reinforce them with mending plates or long wood screws inserted from the sides.

* Cut new screening about four inches wider and one foot longer than the opening. Staple the screening to one short side of the frame; work from the center out to the edges. On fiberglass screening, turn up a half-an-inch hem and staple through both layers.

* Put the frame on a work surface and place a 2-by-4 block under each end. Then bow the frame by clamping the center to the work surface with C-clamps.

* Pull the screening taut and staple the other end. Then remove the blocks and clamps and fasten the sides. Do the center rail last.

* Trim off excess screening with a sharp utility knife. Tack on the molding; sink the brads, fill the holes with putty and prime. Repaint the frame.

You Can Replace Just Half the Window or Door Screen

* Use matching screening for best appearance.

* Remove the molding, all staples or tacks and the damaged screening.

* Fasten new screening to the center rail. Unroll it along the frame and clamp the end between two boards nailed to the workbench top.

* Drive a wedge at each end between the clamped boards and the frame for tension.

* Staple and trim the screening and reattach the molding.

How to Replace Metal Screens

On a metal frame, a screen is held in place by a flexible plastic spline that is forced into grooves in the frame. When installing new screening, also buy new splines and a special roller tool that fits over the spline. Replace old metal splines with plastic ones.

* Remove the old screening. Start at a corner and pry out the splines with a screwdriver.

* Cut new screening about an inch larger than the opening. Trim the corners of the screening at a 45-degree angle.

* Secure the screening to one short end of the frame with spring clamps. At the opposite end, pull the screening taut and force spline in at a corner, then roll the spline in with short, firm strokes.

* Continue around the corners onto the other sides. When you have finished the entire screen, trim off the excess with a utility knife.

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