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How to Install Custom Window Screens in Old Window Frames

How do you install custom window screens that you make from screen repair kits?

I showed you how to make the window screens in a prior post. And this skill comes in handy when your screens are blown away or destroyed by rainstorms.

As I write this post we’re getting hit by a storm that’s the result of a hurricane going up the east coast. You’d think that Pittsburgh being inland wouldn’t suffer from crazy wind and rain, but we did. I sure hope the sump pump is working.

Today you’ll discover just how easy it is to install your new screen. And if you use sheet metal screws during this process you’ll likely never have to worry about your screens blowing away.

Here are the supplies you’ll need for this project:

  • Drill (Ridgid 3/8 inch corded drill)
  • 7/64 Titanium Drill Bit
  • 1/2″ Hex Head Sheet Metal Screws
  • Plastic Window Screen Turn Buttons
  • Duct Tape ($3.98)
  • Gumption (No cost just the fuel you’ll need to do projects)

The total cost for everything is $71.03. 

But if you can borrow someone’s drill or have your own the budget is $11.06. Not a bad price for peace of mind.

The total time to do this project is roughly 7 minutes. And once you understand how to install one window screen the rest are no problem.

I promise you’ll be pleased with the results and that it would take hurricane-strength winds to dislodge the screens.

So let’s get on to the fun stuff!


Drilling Holes Into the Window Frame

Why do you need to drill holes into your window frame?

The turn buttons that hold the window screen in place need to be secured to the window frame. It’s that simple.

Place the window screen into the window frame and hold it in place with 4 pieces of duct tape.

You should place the duct tape on the corners of the screen. The tape should then span the screen and stick to the window frame.

Install Custom Window Screens-Adding duct tape to the 4 corners of the screen

The 7/64 drill bit will grab hold of the duct tape and allow you to drill a hole in the window frame without the drill “walking” all over the slick sheet metal.

The hole should be about 1/4 inch from the edge of the window screen frame.

Install Custom Window Screens-Drill holes into the window frame

I also use this same technique when I have to drill into ceramic or porcelain tile.

Here’s my video that shows you how to install your custom window screens. But I’ll also include a complete step-by-step guide with detailed instructions. When you’re done watching the video scroll down the rest of this page for additional pictures and tips.

Adding Turn Buttons to the Window Frame

The nylon turn buttons hold the custom window screen to the window frame. I bought these at Lowe’s here in the states but I’m sure you can find a similar product at other hardware stores.

Install Custom Window Screens-Turn buttons hold the custom window screen to the window frame

Use the sheet metal screws you bought separately to secure the turn buttons to the window frame. I tried using the screws that came with the turn buttons but they didn’t work well.

Install Custom Window Screens-Sheet metal screws should be used to secure turn buttons

The sheet metal screws can be tightened using a screwdriver or drill. I prefer to use my drill because it can get the screws nice and tight.

Install Custom Window Screens-Four turn buttons hold the window screen in place

There should be a total of 4 turn buttons that hold the custom window screen in place. Each turn button can be placed at the four corners of the window screen for a tight fit.

What’s Next

I hope this tutorial was helpful and shows you how easy it was to do this project.

As I mentioned in the beginning I do have a tutorial that shares how to make custom window screens from a screen repair kit.

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.



Screen Repair Kits, Window Screens

  1. SheilaG @ Plum Doodles says:

    I like those turn buttons- we don’t need to replace any screens right now, but I’m thinking I could use those on lots of projects! I hope you and your family are staying safe, dry, & warm!

    1. You’re right Sheila, the turn buttons could be used for all sorts of projects. Now that I think about it I have some vertical ceiling tiles that always fall over. The turn buttons would be a great way to keep the tiles in place!!

      Let me know what you use them for- you always come up with great ideas ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Melody Pierce says:

        Im buying a 1930s craftsman home and the windows upstairs open out like french doors. I know theres a name for them, but im drawing a blank. Theres no screen and id like some, so i can leave windows open without bugs flying in or cat jumping out. Whats a way i can do this? Looking at it. A screen would get in way of window opening, since it swings open and out.

        1. Lena says:

          In reply to the windows that open out, one solution is to make a screen on hinges that opens in. You should be able to come up with something using a miter saw and molding that would look good with your windows. Good luck, Lena

        2. Paula says:

          Hi Melody…curious if you found a way to do your screens for your windows that open out. I am dealing with the same predicament and I really can’t deal with the bugs/insects getting inside all summer! Any ideas you can share would be greatly appreciated…Best, Paula

  2. al vannostrand says:

    Jeff, My daughter is in an old apartment in SF. The windows are not square so she has no screens. Its about 3 stories up so I cant mount them on he outside. How about mounting them on the inside? Your thoughts?

    1. Hi Al, mounting them on the inside would fine in my book. If there is framing or wood to attach the screens to then go for it.

      If I were in your situation I’d dry fit the screen on the framing then drill holes through the screen frame. Then you could attach the screen using wood screws or sheet metal screws depending on the setup you have.

      What do you think?

      1. Al Vannostrand says:

        thanks. I’m hoping to come up with an easy way to open and close the window with the screen now in the way. I hope its a casement window!

        1. Let me know how it turns out Al, I bet you’ll come up with a great solution.

  3. Meg says:

    Thanks for the advice on the automatic door closer. I ended up having to buy a new one, as the adjuster was worn out.

    I am wondering if you would consider doing a video on replacing a rotary dining room dimmer switch (which doesn’t turn off) with a sliding one. Does that make sense?

    Love your videos and tips, just used the one for ceiling fan light pull cord. Thanks so much,


    1. Thanks Meg. Sorry to hear about your door closer. But at least you gave it a shot.

      I know what kind of dimmer you’re talking about. I’ll add that tutorial to my list and hopefully make a video ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Rosy says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for the tutorial. We have live in a two-story rental and have a Spider problem. We hardly open the windows because the screens were poorly installed and leave big gaps (spider gateway!). The screens are on the inside with missing turn buttons, and some that click into the window rail. We are trying to DIY this because the landlord is cheap and doesn’t want to repair & are wondering what the easiest way would be to fix the gap problem and prevent any crawlers from going through (adding more turn buttons? Adding a caulking/sealant? How do we address the ones on the second floor?).

    Thanks in advance!


    1. Thanks Rosy for asking, you might want to try something like Miss Muffet’s Revenge around the window sill. It’ll help prevent spiders. As far as the screens, you could try to replace the broken turn buttons and put a bead of caulk on the bottom if the gap is smaller than 1/4″

  5. Kirsch says:

    My husband and brother attempted to make window screens but they are all twisted so that they don’t sit flush in the windows and bugs get in around the sides. We are using them such that they just sit inside the old wood framed windows and have to be pulled out to open/close the windows. The previous homeowner had some made by a carpenter that also had a wooden frame (and two knob handles, and magnets to hold them into the windows), but they also have a slight twist (still serviceable, though, unlike our attempt). Any suggestions for how to avoid this twisting? Thanks!

    1. Good question Kirsch, you could add a support bar in the middle that lines up with the window framing. I know it’s not pretty but at least if provides the extra structural support needed to prevent the twisting. Keep me posted.

  6. Danni Black says:

    My husband and I have been wanting to get some new glass in our windows for a while now. The current glass is getting pretty old so getting something new seems practical. We will have to keep these tips in mind for the future, thanks for sharing!

  7. David says:

    I have double hung windows with a tall screen that attaches via clips on the outside of the window covering the entire window height. The clips have broken and are impossible to find. I would like to replace the screens with a channel and sliding single screen as many double hungs have. The screen is only half as tall as the entire window so can be slid up and down. I can’t find any such screen and channel item. Any ideas if any manufacturer makes such an item?

  8. Miller says:

    Can you make a two panel window, one with screening mesh and the other with storm window made out of vinyl, is for an enclosed porch, it will need to be attached to the framing polls, but I am trying to do the window without glass but resistant in case of storm, and what kit supplies will I need?
    Thank you

  9. Chance says:

    I need to make a custom screen frame for solar screens. My issue is I have an arched window. How would connect the arched corners. The right square corners I can use the square corner connectors but I canโ€™t find anything for arched corners?

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