Maintaining Window Screens on Older Homes

Joshua Covington

Window screens have become standard equipment in modern homes but their use was optional a hundred years ago. If you live in a home that is more than a hundred years old, there's a good chance that the window screens on your home were added sometime after it was originally built.

Because the windows were often not a standard style or size, owners resorted to installing screens over the entire window opening rather than fitting them to the window mechanism. Today, thanks to new techniques, you can have custom screens made and installed that perfectly fit the style, design and shape of your historic home's windows. While these custom screens can be a bit pricey, the cost is well worth it if you want to keep your historic home looking its best.

As these custom screen replacements are an expensive undertaking, once you have the properly fitted screens on your home it's important that you take the proper steps to clean and maintain them. The first step is determining what types of windows your home has.

Casement and Double Hung Windows

Most of the windows in an older home would be of two basic styles. Casement windows, typically found in Tudor homes, have a full height opening allowing for maximum ventilation. With casement style windows, the window screen is installed on the inside of the window allowing for ease of maintenance. The second basic style of windows found in older homes are double hung windows. These are usually found in Cape Cod, Craftsman, and Queen Anne styled homes. The window screens for double hung windows are installed on the outside of the window and are less accessible for maintenance.

Cleaning Window Screens

Accumulated dirt, pollen, and soot will hinder the view through the windows and also leads to these particulates blowing into your home when the window is opened, so it's important to clean your window screens regularly.

  1. Remove the screen and lay it on a clean, flat surface.
  2. Hose down well with water to remove large, loose soil particles.
  3. Using a soft nylon brush dipped in a pail of warm water and gentle detergent, scrub the remainder of the soil from the screen.
  4. Rinse well with the hose.
  5. Repeat the above steps until clean and clear.

Checking Window Screens for Necessary Repairs

In the process of removing the window screens from your casement or double hung windows, examine the screen's frame closely. If the window screen is a custom design to fit your historic home, it probably has a wood frame. Check for cracks, water damage, and paint disintegration. Now check the screening material itself. If there are small tears or worn areas, a replacement screen patch can be woven into the existing screen. If the screen is too badly damaged, new screening will have to be installed. This can be a do it yourself project using screen replacement materials available at home improvement stores. The other option is to partner with a window screen professional to ensure that the result is everything that your historic home deserves.

For more information about installing and maintaining windows and window screens on older homes, try reading this article about preserving and restoring old windows.


About the Author

Joshua Covington lives and writes in Southern California. He is a connoisseur of good books, bad movies and esoteric jokes. In the past he has written for a software company, a literary magazine, the website of a city paper and, during the late middle

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