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The Workbench: Rescreening your windows

  • (Tom Wilmer)

There's more to screens than meets the eyes. If your window screens are tattered, it's an easy process to replace and simultaneously upgrade.

If your home has an incredible vista, consider using “invisible screen,” with brand names such as UltraVue, ClearView and BetterVue.

“Invisible” screen isn't literally transparent, but it will increase the perceived optical clarity by as much as 25 percent. Even though the cost per square foot is double that of standard screen, it can be a wise investment.

Alternately, if your screens have been ripped and torn by cat claws, consider using Phifer brand Pet Screen, specifically designed to resist cat attacks.

I was skeptical when first introduced to Pet Screen by a client frustrated by her Bengal cat Rio's ongoing screen destruction derby. The manufacturer claims that the product is “seven times stronger than regular insect screens and resists damage by cats.”

But I soon became a believer. Six months after the project was finished, every window screen remains showroom fresh. Meanwhile, Rio regularly sulks and plots revenge.

Many older homes feature vintage wood-frame window screens, often aluminum and sometimes copper. If you wish to maintain a home's architectural authenticity, aluminum screen is still readily available, while copper usually must be special ordered.

Rescreening aluminum frames

Tools required:

Flat-head screw driver

Spline roller (in a pinch, you can use a pizza cutter)

Duct tape

Razor knife

Tape measure

Screen material*

Rubber splines**

*Measure each window and determine the largest dimension. Screen material is available in widths ranging from 2 to 4 feet, and a variety of lengths from 36 inches to 100 feet. Only rescreening one or two windows? Home improvement stores sell screen by the linear foot.

**Inspect the old rubber splines and replace if they are brittle. Rolls of screen are available as kits that include a spline-roller tool and rubber spline material.

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