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!
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Originally published May 10, 2016 updated May 28, 2019
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 around each side of the window screen.
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 a historic house fanatic so of course, I shared with her how I planned to install my DIY window screen. She had another idea that would give the windows a cleaner look. Her suggestion was to drill two holes in the underside of the top piece of the window trim.
Next, she suggested attaching two corresponding screws in the top of the window screen. The screws would slide into the holes in the window trim and keep the screen in place. The screws could be adjusted up or down for a tight fit.
A hook and eye at the bottom would lock the wood window screen in place. I thought it was a great idea and I’ve been using it ever since!
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
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.
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.
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!
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