How to Make DIY Wood Window Screens
Learn how to make windows screens! Use this step by step tutorial, a few pieces of wood and some simple tools to build your own DIY window screen frame!
Learn How to Make Window Screens for Your Home
I’m ready to open my windows and let some fresh air in. The trouble is I need to make new wood window screen for one of my windows. Do you have broken or missing screen? No worries, because today I’m going to show you how to make a window screen, so you can let some fresh air into your home!
Originally published May 10, 2016, updated May 28, 2019
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How to Make Window Screens for Old Homes
My 1850s house was lovingly cared for by the previous owners. They restored the wood siding, front porch, and added a reclaimed antique front door.
At some point, aftermarket aluminum storm windows were added to the house. And that’s the one area the previous owners didn’t touch. The house looked like it was from the 1850s and the aluminum storm windows looked like they were from 1950s.
The aluminum storm windows looked out of place, but they were also missing all of the screens. Opening the windows meant insects and bees were constantly buzzing around the house.
One of my first projects was to remove the aluminum storm windows. Then I built new wood DIY window screens and wood storm windows that better fit the look of the old home.
How to Make Window Screens: Take Measurements
To make the DIY window screen I first took measurements from side to side (between the exterior window trim) at the top and bottom of the window.
Next, I took measurements from top to bottom (between the exterior trim and the window sill) on the left side and right side of the window.
I subtracted a ¼” from the smallest side to side dimension and I also subtracted a ¼” from the smallest top to bottom dimension. These were the dimensions I used to build my wood DIY window screen. Subtracting a ¼” will allow for ⅛” of movement due to seasonal changes around each side of the window screen.
What Wood Should You Use?
I had some common pine on hand, and that’s what I used to build my windows. Pine is not the best option for exterior projects because it is not rot-resistant or insect resistant. A better option would be douglas fir, southern yellow pine, or another rot-resistant wood.
How to Install Window Screen in the Frame
There are several ways we can attach the window screen material to our DIY window screen frame.
The more traditional way would be to staple the window screen material to the frame. Then cover the staples with wood window screen molding.
The more modern way would be to use window screen spline in a groove to attach the window screen material to the frame.
The look of my 1850s house is very simple. It’s more of a farmhouse style. To me, the simple look of the screen installed with spline better fit the design of my house. So this is the option I went with.
How to Make Window Screens With Spline
I used a router and a ⅛” router bit to make the groove for the spline. I installed the bit in my router and set the depth of the router bit to ¼”.
Then I used a Kreg Multi-Mark to mark where I wanted to rout the groove for the spline.
Next, I attached a fence to the router and routed the grooves on each side of the frame.
How to Attach a Wood DIY Window Screen
The most common way we can install a wood DIY window screen is with window screen hangers. Two hangers are attached to the window trim and two corresponding clips are attached to the window screen. The clips slide over the hanger and keep the screen in place.
My aunt is also an old house fanatic, so of course, I shared with her how I planned to install my wood window screens. She had another idea that would give the windows a cleaner look.
Her suggestion was to drive two screws in the top of the window screen and drill corresponding holes in the underside of the window trim.
The screws are left proud about a ½” and act like pins. The holes in the underside of the trim are drilled about ⅜” deep. The pins are inserted into the holes and lock the top of the screen in place. Think of it like adding a leaf to an expandable table where the pins of the leaf fit into the holes in the table.
A hook and eye at the bottom locks the screen in place.
I have received many questions about this installation method. I’ve tried taking photos, but it was tricky to properly photograph so that you could see what I was doing.
Instead, I created some sketches. I’ll preface this by saying this is still not as clear as I would like it to be. So please bear with me. If you’re still unsure, I suggest making a jig with some scrap wood and testing it out. I think it may become easier to understand that way.
Make a Jig
I started by making a jig from scrap wood.
In this sketch, the jig is placed on the outside of the window screen. But in this view, we are looking down and from the inside of the house.
The bottom of the jig is set for ¾”, the thickness of the storm window. The top of the jig is set for 1″, the distance I needed to set the storm window in the opening correctly. Your measurement may be different.
Two holes were drilled through the top of the jig. These holes will be used to mark the location of the screws that will act like pins. Later, they will be used to mark the location for holes on the underside of the trim.
In this photo, the jig is clamped in place, and I am driving a screw that will act as a pin.
Then the jig is placed on the window trim. In this sketch, we are standing in the yard on the outside of the house.
To see the next step, we have to look from inside the house. You can do this step outside, but we need to look up, and from the inside, so you see what to do.
Use an awl to mark the center of each hole in the jig on the underside of the trim. Then, use a ¼” Forstner bit (or whatever size bit will fit the screws you are using) to drill a hole ⅜” deep at each location.
Related: What is an Awl (+ How to Use it)
Now, the pins (screws) can be inserted into the holes. All that is left is to add a hook and eye to the bottom of the screen.
Adjustable Window Screen Frames
Store-bought adjustable window screens are available if you don’t have the tools or time to make a DIY window screen. Below are some options you can buy online and have shipped to your home.
How to Make a DIY Window Screen
- Measure the window opening
- Cut the window screen frame pieces
- Assemble the window frame and use a router to cut a groove for the spline
- Paint the frame and install the window screen material
- Install the wood window screen in the window opening
Window Won’t Stay Up?
Want to let some fresh air in your new DIY window screen but your window won’t stay open? I have an easy solution for you. And you can make it with scrap wood in less than 10 minutes.
Skate over to Window Won’t Stay Up? Make This! and check it out now!
Are you ready to learn how to make window screens? They’re easy to build and perfect for antique-style or historic homes. Let’s get building, so we can let the fresh air in and keep those pesky bugs out!
How to Make Window Screens
- Get the FREE plan here (includes detailed instructions, measurements, and bonus tips).
- Tape Measure
- Miter Saw
- Biscuit Joiner
- Router with Fence
- 1/8″ Straight Router Bit
- Kreg Multi-Mark
- Purdy Cub Paint Brush
Step 1. Measure the Opening
I first took measurements from side to side (between the exterior window trim) at the top and bottom of the window.
Next, I took measurements from top to bottom (between the exterior window trim and the window sill) on the left side and right side of the window.
I subtracted a ¼” from the smallest side to side dimension, and I subtracted a ¼” from the smallest top to bottom dimension.
These were the dimensions I used to build my DIY window screen. Subtracting a ¼” will allow for ⅛” of movement around each side of the window frame.
Step 2. Cut the Window Screen Parts
I used the dimensions from Step 1 to determine the length of my window screen parts. Cut 2 stiles from 1×3 to 48″. Cut 2 rails from 1×3 to 22-3/4″. Cut 1 bottom rail from 1×4 to 22-3/4″.
Step 3. Cut the Biscuit Joints
Layout the DIY window screen pieces. I used a Kreg Multi-Mark to locate the center of each rail.
I transferred those marks to the stiles and labeled each joint. I set the biscuit joiner for #10 biscuits for the 1×3 joints and #20 for the 1×4 joints. Then I cut the biscuit slots.
Related: Kreg Jig vs Biscuit Joiner: Differences of Pocket Holes and Biscuit Joints
Step 4. Assemble the DIY Window Screen
I laid out the pieces to form the frame and test fit biscuits in all of the joints. I recut any slots where the biscuit didn’t properly fit.
I applied glue to all of the joints, inserted biscuits into the slots and clamped the frame. I measured from corner to corner to be sure the frame was square.
Step 5. Cut the Groove for the Spline
I used a Kreg Multi-Mark to measure 3/8″ from the inside edge of the frame. Then measured 1/8″ from that mark. The groove for the window screen spline will be cut within these two marks. These marks locate the corners so we’ll know where to start and end the cut.
I used the Kreg Multi-Mark to set the depth of the bit to 1/4″. Then I used the marks on the frame to set the router fence. I routed the sides and top first as they are the same width. I started at the corner, plunged the router bit into the layout line and worked towards the opposite corner.
Related: How to Use Router Table for Beginners
I stopped the router at the opposite corner, repositioned it on the next side and cut the next groove.
Then I adjusted the fence to the proper depth for the bottom rail and cut the last groove.
Step 6. Paint or Stain the DIY Window Screen
I used a Purdy Cub Paint Brush to apply two coats of exterior stain to my wood window screen frame.
Step 7. Install the Screen
Click here for the How to Replace a Window Screen tutorial.
Now you know how to make windows screens! Grab a few pieces of wood gather some simple tools, and follow this step by step tutorial to build your own DIY window screen frame!
Get the free plan (including the detailed instructions and measurements) now!
Thank you for stopping by. If you found this information helpful, would you please pin it to Pinterest? Other DIYers would appreciate it and I would too! Thank you – Scott
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I have been looking for a plan to build wooden screens for about 2 years. Thank you for fulfilling my needs. We have a house that was built in the early 1950s and we have replaced some of the windows, but we have a couple that we need to put solar screens on due to the heat that comes through the single paned old windows. Do you have any plans for kitchen cabinets that tell how to build that have drawers? I think that will be a project for this next winter.
Hi Jean – Thank you for stopping by. I’m glad the window screen plan is going to work for you. I have a plan for DIY Tool Storage Cabinets and DIY Shaker Cabinet Doors, but I haven’t created any plans for kitchen cabinets yet.
Thanks for the how-to. I’ve used the crummy aluminum screens from Home Depot and while they are easy, they warp with the tension in the screen and don’t look good. Our old house deserves some nice wood screens like these. In the online version you don’t show your Aunt’s solution nor how to install the mesh.
Hi Nate – Thank you for stopping by. I’ve tried taking pics several times of my aunt’s installation idea, but I never felt like the pics accurately captured what I was doing. Now that I’m thinking about it, I may be able to develop some sketches that would properly show the process. There’s a link in “Step 7. Install the Screen” that shows how to install the screen. I’m also including the link here ==> How to Replace a Window Screen
I have looked at few plans for these and yours is one of the simper options. I don’t have a biscuit joiner but may considering getting one. I have 10+ windows to make. That may be a bit more forgiving than using my Beadlock jig.
What wood species did you use?
I also may cut an ogee on the outside. I have a 1899 limestone house in St. Louis. Not only are their terrible aluminum windows but the are even the wrong color — brown over white. Looks terrible.
Hi Huck – I used common pine to build mine. Pine is not the best wood for exterior projects because it’s not rot-resistant. I keep them sealed with exterior stain and they have lasted for years. That said, I made a screen door with pine for a friend and it didn’t last very long.