How to Make a Window Screen with Wooden Frame
I hate mosquitoes. You hate mosquitoes. Everyone hates mosquitoes. Yet, in places where there are mosquitoes, there are no screens on the windows.
Instead of screened windows, people either sweat and suffocate in their sleep under a net in place over their bed, or don't use anything at all, because of the quality of life impact. It amazes me that in malaria-rich environments people still haven't adopted the simple act of screening their windows.
I'm in Latin America, a place (like so many others) that bars its windows against criminals, but doesn't screen them against insects. As an American who has always had screens over the windows of his homes, I reject this sight. And as an American male that was taught by his father to do it yourself, I resolved myself to do something about it. Today I built a framed screen insert for Tatiana's bedroom window.
There are mosquitoes in Lima—as well as spiders, moths, and all sorts of other things that I don't want to enter my room through an open window. A baby is about to be born and live in this bedroom. I don't want this baby crying because he was bit by something.
As an American male, I inject an overwhelming presence of initiative into a Latin household. Men in these countries are not known for their productivity, and I think the women in the Boza household are a bit surprised to see a man laboring, or doing something productive.
Building a Screened Window Frame in Latin America…
1. Measure the Window
2. Visit the Hardware Store
Here in Lima, ACE Hardware (a familiar American supply store) is available to provide me with the materials needed to complete the project. I was actually surprised with how much the store looked like they do in the USA. Except for all the signs in Spanish, which would probably be the scene in Southern California as well, I felt like I was walking into a piece of my homeland.
3. Select the Screen
Several types of screening material were advertised—like wire, plastic, and some type fiberglass hybrid—but only the color blue or green was available in the cheap plastic variety. I don't understand why blue screening material is so popular in Latin America—when I do see screened windows, they're often protected with a blue mesh.
Ultimately, black screening material was purchased at hardware store attached to a nearby supermarket.
4. Select the Framing
I really didn't care what the wood was made out of, just as long as it sort of looked like the warped, faded, 30-something-year-old stuff that was now framing Tatiana's window. I didn't want to do anything complicated, like staining.
There are plenty of resources online about what type of wood is best suited to what environment.
5. Cut the Frame
At ACE Hardware, cuts are free—that's good. But ACE Hardware will only do a straight, 90-degree cut—that's bad. In a perfect world, they would have been able to slice the corners of my frame at a 45-degree angle so that I could make the joins stronger and prettier, but this is Latin America and I don't have many tools at my disposal. I took what I could get, and adapted.
6. Assemble the Window Frame
First I started by laying out the frame on the floor. This was also done in the hardware store to ensure the measurements I needed matched with the materials cut.
Second, I attached flat steel braces (straps) to the corners. I should mention at this point that only one side of the frame is visually important in this project. Tatiana's bedroom window is on the second floor and faces a school. She, nor anyone she knows (or cares about), will ever see the frame from the outside in, so aesthetic liberties could be taken with its design.
I should also note that many would use carpenters glue to assemble a wooden frame, but don't like waiting overnight for things to cure (and with young children in the house, who knows). I'm sort of an instant results kinda guy, and assembling the frame with flat braces does the job perfectly.
Remember not to tighten the screws down until fully assembled.
7. Attach the Screen
With frame construction complete (and tested in the window for fit), it came time to attached the screening. The process is different depending on the type of frame you have—some aluminum models have a rubber gasket that you smash into a groove to secure the screen—but for the purposes of my practical design I simply staple-gunned the screen to the side of the frame that won't be visible.
I was fortunate enough to be in a home where there was actually a staple-gun—Tatiana bought it in the USA for her mother a few years back.
I don't know much about these things, but I do know that it's important to bend the frame when you're doing this. It's annoying to see a screen that isn't taught, or has slack in the center, and by affixing the fame in a bent state the screen will flex even more when released, thereby removing any excess slack that may have crept in there.
I was fortunate enough to have Tatiana holding the frame at a 45-degree angle with her sister pushing down on the center of the unit, while I stapled.
8. Trim Excess Material and Install the Screened Window Frame
The final bit was cutting off the excess screening around the frame, and sliding it into place. It's undecided if it will sit inside frame (having to be removed every the window is manipulated), or outside (in which case I'll actually have to secure it properly for long-term use)
Cost of Construction
- Wood : 13.50 soles
- Flat steel braces : 2.10 soles
- Screening : 2.20 soles
- Sales tax : 2.83 soles
- Taxi : 6 soles
- Total : 26.63 nuevos soles (US$8.94)