How to Make: Window Screens

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When Rob and I moved into our apartment, we discovered something that seemed a bit unusual. Our windows, which tilt out at either the top or bottom, did not have screens. I just kind of figured that Oregon must not have a bug problem then, and it’s probably because I was still on my “OMG-I-live-in-Portland” high. Well, I was WRONG. Oregon has many freaking gross bugs.

The slugs? Nah, they don’t really bother me. But discovering that spiders have been crawling in our windows while we sleep? Well, I consider that to be an issue. Especially when I wake up coughing, and I’m 99% sure it’s because Charlotte was making a new web between my face and my pillow. I know it’s a terrifying visual, but I took care of it. By accidentally EATING THE EFFING SPIDER.

Not wanting this to happen again, I decided to find a way to fix not having suitable window screens. We tried out expandable ones, and we duct taped around any openings, but I’m not too fond of that kind of redneck fix, and it’s irritating when opening and closing the window. After a bit of digging around at Fabric Depot, I found a roll of magnetic adhesive tape and Pet Screen, which is a flexible nylon netting (it’s in the home decor section).

The nylon netting happened to be the perfect width, so that didn’t have to be cut. I only had to measure the window from top to bottom to decide the exact size of my screen. I gave it about a 1/2 inch of leeway (I don’t think I’ve ever actually typed that word), because I didn’t want to have to line up my screen EXACTLY with the edges of the window. It sounded like a pain in the ass.

After measuring, I obviously cut my screen. As if you couldn’t have guessed that.

Try to follow the line of the netting when you cut it out, okay? If you can’t see it very well, line up a piece of masking tape along the edge so you can see it. Or, find a 25-year-old snarky neighbor girl to do it for you.

I snipped off a piece of the adhesive magnetic tape and tried it out on a piece of fabric and a section of netting to see which one it stuck to best. THANK GOD it stuck to the netting better than the fabric, because I did not want to put that much effort into these. I rolled out the magnetic tape and and stuck it to the very edge of the netting.

Here’s where it got interesting, because I thought to myself, “Hey, self, you’re done!”

Not so. Magnetic tape won’t stick to metal windows that have been painted over 456 times. I even used my foot to hold it up in one corner, and used my right arm for the other corner, while waving to passerby’s. I looked like I was playing a questionable and probably inappropriate game of Twister.

When my first plan failed, I lined the edge of my window with the rest of the sticky tape, because it wanted to stick to itself anyways. [ย NOTE: Clean the window edge with rubbing alcohol before you put the tape on it. If it’s not clean (of course mine wasn’t!), it won’t want to stick very well, and you’ll have to do it over later.]


Just make sure you buy enough magnetic tape if you make these. I’m fresh out after doing one window, but another trip to the store so I can have a spider-free apartment will be totally worth it.

*UPDATE*: I wanted to note that the magnetic tape did not hold well after we opened and closed the screen lots of times. I replaced that magnetic tape with adhesive Velcro on the window frame, and I replaced the magnetic tape on the actual screen with sew-on Velcro. I used a wide zig-zag stitch to sew it on, and it’s been working SO MUCH BETTER than the magnetic tape. It’s also nice that you can buy packages that inclue both the sew-on and adhesive Velcro in one box!

  • Glad you fixed that … I was thinking you were a total redneck when I saw the expandable screen/duct tape combo. Haha.

    • I will be using the “duct tape combo” the next time you stay here. I want you to meet a few 8-legged friends of mine.

  • Here’s to not eating spiders! Blehh.

    What you forgot to mention is that the sticky isn’t sticky enoughโ€”so if anyone has any super secret magnetic tape or otherwise very good adhesive that would stick said tape to window or screen better, leave a comment. ;o)

    • I made a note JUST FOR YOU about cleaning the edge of your window.

  • Jude R

    This is EXACTLY what I was looking for. I have the same windows and live in Seattle. My neighbor showed me her original window screens–the same ones my place had a long time before I owned it, and they look very custom and likely hard to find/expensive. I am going to go this route!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oh good! You saw my note at the bottom of the post, right? The magnetic tape didn’t do well, but the adhesive Velcro was awesome. We didn’t peel the screens back a lot, because when we did, we found that the Velcro that was stuck around the window wanted to come off. Otherwise, they were great!

  • Anonymous Coward

    Hallelujah, I think I found the answer here! You had me laughing about the “freaking gross” bugs that Portland has! I live in Seattle, and we have the same bugs. LOL!

    I, too, am in a home with no screens. I won’t go into great detail about why I (at age 45) am reduced to living in a rental home , with no screens, but suffice it to say that the reasons involve my ex-husband (Satan, who gambled nearly EVERYTHING away but could still manage to go to Hawaii this month with his girlfriend), an extra SHITTY divorce settlement, and my tightwad landlord (my mother) who is also a hoarder.

    So, back to the no-screens-on-the-windows problem. This will be my 3rd summer without screens, and I’m not gonna take it anymore! Those damn bugs are no longer going to easily cross my threshold once I get my new screens in!

  • Anonymous Coward

    Dear Amy,
    I apologize for using bad language in your comments section. If you need to delete or edit my comments, feel free; I can always repost in “PG”. Thank you for letting me vent, it felt so good and natural for some reason. I obviously am in need of more therapy,
    Cheers and happy sewing to you!

    • Hi, AC! No worries. We all need to vent about having shitty days sometimes! I promise I use my fair share of “bad language”. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I hope that finding a solution for window screens at least brings some kind of small brightness to your summer days.

  • Dave Wolf

    Hi Amy, many thanks for sharing your window screen experience. I have a question:

    I live in downtown Seattle. My high-rise condo has one door to the outside. It is a patio door off of my bedroom. The door opens out, so the screen will need to be re-installed every single day that I wish to open the door for air. Probably every day all summer.

    Based on your comments, I’m concerned about the Velcro adhesive pulling off of the door frame with so much on-and-off activity. Yet the magnetic tape didn’t seem to hold well for you.

    They make magnetic tape in 1/16″ and 1/32″ thicknesses and various widths. What did you use? I’m leaning towards the thicker magnetic tape for better results in the 3/4″ width.

    I’d appreciate your feedback. Thank you!

    • Hi Dave!

      I used a 3/4″ wide magnetic tape. I had a terrible time trying to get it to even hold the screen up against the painted window frame. The Velcro did work really well, but I think you’re correct in assuming that the adhesive would quickly wear off and peel off of your door frame if peeled back every day.

      I think that your best bet would probably be to purchase a magnetic screen door. They can purchased online and at home improvement stores. The amount of magnetic tape and mesh that you would have to buy would likely cost more than the magnetic screen door.

      I hope you find something that works well!

      • Dave Wolf

        I appreciate your reply, Amy. The painted window frame explains a lot. I’m going to glue magnetic tape to the aluminum patio door surround and then attach more magnetic tape to the screen itself. I realize that I’ll have to align the two sets of magnets for them to properly attract each other. I’ll reply when I know how well this works.

        A magnetic screen door is not an option. There’s no room for a swinging or sliding door in this space, plus the opening is 37″ (edge to edge) which makes it a non-standard size.

        All the best.

        • Eeep! Glueing makes a bit nervous. The magnetic tape was much heavier on the screen than I thought it was going to be, just to warn you. Can you test it out in some way first, before you glue it?

          I wonder if you could make a kind of magnetized roman shade. Lift it to open the door and walk out, and lower it and it snaps to the side of your door frame. I pretty sure my ideas only get more expensive from here on out!

        • Hi Dave- did you see the idea in the comments from Jolubo about using a screen that’s kind of like a shower curtain? Might work!

          • Dave Wolf

            Hi Amy. I did see it but I’m not too enamored with that idea. I went ahead and built the magnetic screen and so far it works well. The opening is 82″ high and 39″ wide. I almost never use the patio because it’s very small and it’s on the 28th floor (gulp). With the patio door open and the screen magnetically attached, I receive a lot of bug-free breeze!

            I really don’t see how a shower curtain-screen or a roman shade would completely seal out the bugs, so I’m happy with my design. I may end up adding some extra glue on the back side of the screen/magnet interface to keep the screen from delaminating over time.

            I uploaded a picture. Hopefully it will post on your site.

            In the pic you can see that I mounted a second horizontal magnetic strip over the window (to the left of the patio door opening). That’s where I’ll mount the screen when it’s not in use. This is a bedroom window, so I don’t care if the screen lives over the window. At least it’ll be out of the way.

          • Dave Wolf

            Here’s the photo. Door opening is on the right and window is on the left. You can see the screen and magnetic frame surround.

          • Nice job, Dave! It looks great! I’m glad that the magnetic tape worked for you. Attaching it to the window when it’s not in use is a great idea. I hope it continues to work well. Thanks for sharing a picture! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jolubo

    For a screen door, you can hang one on the inside like a shower curtain, and brush it aside going in and out. I’ve made them with duct tape and screen fabric (with weights on the bottom), but you can buy commercial ones and McClendon Hardware or Fred Meyer, both in Seattle

    • I like that idea, Jolubo! I hope that Dave reads it and tries it out on his doorway.

  • April

    Thanks for sharing this. I am going to do something similar for our ultra-small bathroom window. Former Washingtonian here now in Brooklyn. Fondly remember the creepy-crawlies of the PNW:)

    • Sooo many creepy crawlies! I had no idea there would be so many spiders out here. In the fall when the webs are all over town, I can often be seen panic-dancing to get them off my face when they cross the sidewalk. Gross!

  • LivahLuvah

    Thank you! You are bloody brilliant and I think I might be crushing. <3

    • Haha! You’re very welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • James Crawford

    I own my place. This looks tough and dodgy. I’m going to build a casement box out of 1×6 and attach it outside the window and staple screen to it.
    I’ll only be able to crank the window open a little, but it will work for venting.

  • leslie

    What is the best mesh to buy in bulk that is see thru

  • SisWins

    Thank you, thank you! I am a teacher and my classroom window are exactly like your windows. I will have 6 to do eventually, but anything to stop the bees from coming in is worth it! This was exactly the help I needed.

  • Susan Lundin

    I love your writing style๐Ÿคฃ as well as your great idea! Do you do stand-up? Thank you for the help and the laughs ๐Ÿ˜‚

  • Kate Russell

    OMG – You and I must be kindred spirits. I love your style. You made me laugh out loud and I am very grateful for the good advice.