How to build your own shade screens 

If you’re looking for ways to lower your summer electricity bill – and really, who isn’t? – we have just the project for you.  

According to the Department of Energy, the heat that enters and escapes your home through your windows is responsible for 25%–30% of your heating and cooling energy costs. One do-it-yourself solution: shade screens. Shade screens can limit the amount of heat that enters your home in the summertime, which can help you save.  

You can make shade screens yourself. Read on to learn how. 

What you’ll need 

You should be able to find supplies for this project at your nearest home improvement store. Sometimes these products are even sold together as a kit. 

Here are the supplies you’ll need: 

  • Aluminum screen frame material
  • Screen mesh material (make sure it’s solar screening, not insect screening)
  • Screen frame corners
  • Screen spline
  • Screen spline roller tool
  • Hacksaw
  • Gloves
  • Miter box
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Safety glasses
  • Frame clips (if your windows don’t have a channel)

Getting started 

Now that you have your materials, here’s what to do: 

Step 1: Measure your window. If the window has a channel, take the measurements from inside of it. If not, install your frame clips first, then measure from the inside of those. Once you know the height and width of the window, write down the dimensions. It’s always a good idea to double-check your measurements. Nobody wants to start over — or pay for more materials! 

Step 2: Subtract the size of the frame corners from your height and width measurements. If you miss this step, the screens will be a little too big for your window. 

Step 3: Cut the frame. This is when the miter box comes in handy. Before you start cutting, be sure to put your safety glasses and gloves on. Using a hacksaw and the miter box, cut the aluminum frame to the size of your newly adjusted measurements.  

Step 4: Build the frame. Now that you’ve cut the frame material into four pieces, it’s time to put those pieces together. Use your frame corners to do this. Make sure that on all four sections, the spline channel is on the inside of the frame and facing up. This is also a good time to make sure the frame is the right size by placing it on the window.   

Step 5: Cut the screen to size. An easy way to do this is by rolling the screen mesh over the frame. Then, you can cut the mesh to the size of your frame. Make sure to leave extra material on each side.  

Step 6: Attach the screen. Take the spline and push it into the spline channel using the spline roller tool. Once all four sides are in, take a look at the screen. If it’s too loose, too tight or not even, it’s an easy fix. Just pull the spline out of the channel and try again.  

Step 7: Trim the excess material. When you’re happy with how the screen looks and feels, you can remove any excess material using a utility knife and gloves. If there’s extra material that you can’t quite cut with a knife, don’t worry. You can use a flathead screwdriver to gently tuck it in. 

Step 8: Attach the screen to your window. If you’re using frame clips, turn them sideways. Place your new shade screen on top, then secure it in place with the frame clips.  

That’s all there is to it! This is just one more way to keep your home cool during the hot summer months. 

Not a DIY-er? 

You can save on professional shade screen or window film installation with help from SRP. 

Please note: Customers who build their own shade screens are not eligible for SRP’s shade screen rebate. 

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