How to Replace a Metal Frame Window Screen

Once the screening on your metal frame windows has been torn, stretched or warped it will stop functioning properly. Bugs and pests will have an easy way in, meaning it is time for a window screen replacement.

This is a quick and simple job that requires only a few basic tools and a work surface large enough to fit the metal frame and a roll of replacement screening.

Gather the following materials and tools to take on this particular home window screen replacement project:

  • Replacement screening that is a few inches longer and wider than the dimensions of the metal frame
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Screen spline roller / screen rolling tool
  • Hammer and wood wedge (Alternate for spline roller)
  • Putty knife
  • Tin snips
  • Replacement spline kit (may not be needed, but a good idea to have just in case)

Stage 1 – Removing the Old Screening

Replace metal frame window screen 1

Screens are held in place on a metal frame using pressure from a vinyl strip, called a spline, tucked tightly into a channel or groove around the perimeter of the framing. To remove the worn screening you simply need to remove that vinyl, using the tip of a flat head screwdriver.

Get that tip into the channel and pry up the vinyl spline. Once you can grip it, the rest of the strip will come out with a gentle tug, pulling back across the channel.

Pull the damaged screen off the metal frame and discard. Hang onto the spline – if it is in good shape you can reuse it. If not, you will need the replacement spline kit specified above.

Stage 2 – Cutting the Replacement Screening to Fit

Replace metal frame window screen 2

Square the metal frame gently. This is an important step that will allow the frame to fit properly into the window again and ensure that the new screening is smooth and taut.

Lay the new screen over top of the metal frame and cut to an oversized fit with the tin snips.

You want the screen to reach to the outer edge of the frame on all sides. If it is a relatively thin frame, leave a slight overlap to allow enough screening for a tight fit.

Stage 3 – Into the Channel

Replace metal frame window screen 3

With the replacement screen lined up loosely to the metal frame, use the putty knife to push the screening into the channel along one side only. This is the anchor side, so be careful to get enough screening into the channel for a tight grip.

Stage 4 – Spline Insertion and Stretching
Replace metal frame window screen 4

Using the grooved or concave side of the screen spline roller (or a hammer and wood wedge), roll or tap the vinyl spline along the channel, over top of the screening inserted in Stage 3. Push it down tight for a good fit.

Now stretch the screening across to the other side until it is taut – that means getting just the right amount of tension for a tight, smooth screen. Push the screening along that opposite side into the channel using the putty knife and follow with the vinyl spline. Move to one of the sides and insert the screen followed by the spline in the same way.

Stretch it slightly, smooth the screening out, and follow the same procedure with the final channel and spline. Trim the screen to fit for a perfectly replaced metal frame window screen.

If you want to replace the screen in a wood window frame, read How to Replace a Wood Frame Window Screen.

2 Comments on "How to Replace a Metal Frame Window Screen"

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  1. Mike says:

    This is about aluminum windows. In my house and in a camping trailer that I’ve been restoring I find that the opening meant for the screen is smaller than the screen itself. That is, once in the channel the screen is fine but the edge around the channel is just a bit too small for the screen to fit into. I’ve bent a couple of screen frames trying to get them back into place. What am I doing wrong?
    Thank you.

  2. Hunti says:

    This is the perfect way to break down this information.

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