Knowing how to replace a torn or damaged RV window screen is a basic yet highly useful skill to have when on the road in your rig. Being able to let a cool breeze in while keeping the bugs out is crucial in getting the most out of your surroundings while traveling.
Why is knowing how to repair your screens important?
Living the RV lifestyle gives us traveling folks the ability to access the most beautiful mountains, forests, deserts, plains, and beaches in this country. But sometimes those places can get hot, muggy and sticky, and having the tropical trade winds of the Florida Keys or the cool mountain air of the Rockies available to cool off your rig can be the perfect solution on a hot night, but only if you have intact screens to keep the bugs out.
BUGS. I shouldn’t have to say much more but I’ll add my two cents for anyone who hasn’t had that experience yet. Flies, bees, mosquitoes, no-see-ums and anything else that bites or stings can stay outside in their home and I’ll stay in mine.
Living during the day or sleeping at night comfortably requires all your window screens to be intact and in good shape. If they are not, you will soon find yourself with sleepless nights from all the scratching you or your kids will be doing. Been there, done that.
Of course, if you have an A/C you can keep your windows closed and it doesn’t matter what shape your screens are in, but then you miss out on hearing the birds chirping or waves crashing.
Sleeping at night with your windows open and screens closed and intact is one of our favorite things to do while camping. We love the stars and the sounds of the night, coyotes howling, crickets chirping, or leaves rustling from a light breeze…it’s the perfect sound machine for sleep.
Having a couple of small kids and a couple of RV cats has caused us to go through our fair share of screens, so I have made changing out a screen a regular maintenance routine, much like changing motor oil. Here are 5 simple steps to changing out a torn or damaged window screen.
1. Remove screen and frame
If it is possible the easiest way to replace a window screen is to remove the entire frame with a damaged screen as one whole piece. Usually, if you gently lift up the screen frame from the bottom with a putty knife they should come out of the window frame. After it’s out, bring it to a flat surface with room to roll out the new screen.
2. Label the screen
If you’re doing just one single screen replacement this isn’t necessary, but if you are doing multiple replacements, label each frame with some tape and marker. This step makes for an easy and stress-free job when it comes to reinstalling the frames with new screens because some may not operate as smoothly when installed in a different frame.
3. Remove damaged screen
Take a razor knife or a flathead screwdriver to remove the old PVC splining and pull it out with your hands. You should now be able to remove the damaged screen. Remove it and throw all materials away into the trash.
4. Install the new screen
The frame is now ready for the new screening. Take the new roll of screen and unroll it over the frame which should be laying flat on the ground. Unroll just enough material to cover the frame, leaving a couple of inches over each edge of the entire frame.
Next, take the PVC splining and insert it into the groove of the frame and use the spline roller to push the spline completely down into the groove to lock in the screen. Once you reach the end of one side of the window frame, cut the spline with a razor knife, do the same for the other three sides.
As you are installing the other three sides of the screen it should start to become tighter in the frame, giving a cleaner and finished look.
Finally, all you’ll need to do is cut the excess screen with a razor knife. Carefully cut the screen with light pressure following the window frame making sure not to damage the frame, cut your hand or the new screen.
5. Reinstall the frame
Take your frame with the new screen and reinstall it back into the correct window. The frame should go back into the window frame the same as it came out. Put the frame back into the top of the track and use a putty knife to gently lift up on the bottom to put it back into the bottom track. It should go back in and that should be that.
Check the operation by opening and closing a couple of times and make any adjustments if it does not slide correctly or at all. This would also be a great time to do a little window maintenance by spraying the frame with some window lube for smooth operation.
That’s it! With the proper tools, materials, and patience you should now be an expert at removing and installing window screens.
We have our windows open any time the weather permits us to do so and we prefer it that way, so much so that we removed our air conditioner from our RV two years ago. Having intact screen windows to let the breeze come through while keeping the bugs out makes us happy campers.