Home Improvement : Tips on Rewiring Aluminum Frame Windows : Home repair: Changing the screen mesh in your windows can be easy and relatively inexpensive.

<i> Abrams is a Los Angeles general contractor and a free-lance writer</i>

Ah, spring! Long, warm days. Balmy nights. Baseball, barbecues, beach parties and, of course, bugs . . . lots of miserable bugs!

But don’t despair. Here are some tips for easy rewiring of aluminum-frame windows and door screens that will allow you to beat the bugs without beating your wallet.

Start by determining what type of screen mesh you have in the existing frame, either aluminum, which is stiff, or fiberglass, which is soft and pliable.

In general, it is easier to rewire screens with new mesh of the same material as the old mesh. From most any hardware store or screen shop, purchase enough aluminum or fiberglass mesh to overlap the outside edges of the frame.


Also while you’re at the store, buy a device called a “spline tool,” which looks like a pizza cutter with a wheel at both ends (under $5). One wheel has a convex edge, the other a concave edge.

The next step is to remove the old mesh from the screen frame. Lay the screen on a flat surface and with a pair of long-nose pliers or tweezers, pull on the end of the “spline,” the rubber cord in the frame groove that surrounds the mesh.

Continue pulling the spline until you have removed it entirely. Put the spline aside and remove the old screen mesh from the frame.

Lay the new mesh evenly over the screen frame. If you are working with aluminum mesh, use the convex-edged wheel of the spline tool to push the material as far as possible into the groove all the way around the frame.


Here comes the key to successful rescreening. Starting at any corner of the frame, use the concave wheel of the spline tool to force the old spline material into groove on top of the screen mesh. Use enough force to push the screen and spline down into the groove as far as possible.

If the spline is especially difficult to force in, try pulling on the free section to stretch it, causing it to “thin” slightly.

Continue working across to the opposite corner of the frame and cut the spline there with a wire cutter or knife.

Now you have one side of the frame completed. To keep the mesh taught, draw it snug over the frame and repeat the above procedure at the opposite side.


The screen mesh should now be smooth and flat without loose spots or wrinkles. If so, complete the spline installation for the two other sides of the frame. If not, pull the spline out of the groove near any wrinkles or loose sections, straighten and tighten the mesh, and reinstall the spline.

Now the screen mesh is properly secured into all four sides of the window or door frame with the excess mesh still attached. To remove it, hold the flat part of the blade of a utility or pocket knife against the spline, with the sharp edge against the loose mesh.

Draw the knife along the spline while cutting through the loose material all the way around the frame.

That’s it! The screen is like new, and you did it yourself!


Finally, a word about aluminum versus fiberglass mesh. As stated above, it is usually easier to rewire a screen with new mesh of the same material as the old, but you may wish to switch from aluminum to fiberglass or vice versa to better suit your needs.

Aluminum screen mesh is sturdier than fiberglass and is better for doors or window screens that are subject to assault from pets, kids and careless adults who may be prone to pushing on the mesh rather than the handles.

Fiberglass mesh is a little cheaper, is more resistant to weathering and is corrosion proof. Fiberglass is preferable in coastal areas or in humid climates.

Two switch mesh types, the spline will normally need to be replaced. Buy one size smaller to go from fiberglass to aluminum; one size larger to go from aluminum to fiber.