December 7, 2007

How to Make a Window Screen with Wooden Frame
Lima, Peru

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)

Comments:

Maya

December 8th, 2007

jajajajajja OMG Craig everytime i read your comments i just laugh BIG TIME….
well.. theres` something right about your statment, and it is that in a male ruled continent, usually the woman do all the work.
Tha latin selfsuficient man is a big mith that you will see that keeps on going on time just because latins have the sad title of being the race that beats their woman and childs the most…
So the paradox here is that the macho power has nothing to do with brains or will to do something…
but as you probably see, the ones guilty of this are non other than us, women, because in a house that mom do everything for them, they get used to be useless in many fields..

Thank god, i think we are working on this, to improve this and create a place in wich see a man actually helping in the house is not going to be a motive of a documentary of the weirdest things ever seen…
See you soon….
anything from Chile you`d like?

Kronzer

July 2nd, 2008

Thanks from the other land of mosquitoes: Minnesota! I'm turning this random outbuilding of ours (it has a garage inferiority complex and a shed superiority complex) into a 3 season porch. There are gorgeous windows, but no screens. Your step by step was great–thanks particularly for the idea about the braces and pulling the screen taut.

The United States

tina

May 27th, 2010

i have made the almost exact screen using white pine and metal hinges. mine was different as i used pine both sides of the screen and then put on the hinges as stablizers…it was ironic to see something i created as well as someone else.

The United States

Nancy cross

July 5th, 2010

Dear Craig thanks so much for your helpful advise everything you said is very true.
I want to ask if i could borrow your plans for my daughters and my baby grandsons in the island of trinidad and tobago. They built there small home in a swampy area and God forbid there is mosquitoes big like dive Bomber planes.
I live in Florida and I was amazed at all the screen doors and windows here not there.
Thanks so much for helping in your big way and congratulation your growing family.
Nancy C. from Florida

Barbados

Daryl

July 17th, 2010

thanks! going to do this in a couple weeks. exactly what i was looking for

The United States

Mimi

August 20th, 2010

I appreciate you taking the time to post these instructions. I am sure many people will find this very useful, BUT it would have been even better if you had left out all of the unnecessary comments about Latin America and its men. I am Brazilian, married to an African-American male and have been living in the United States for about 8 years now and after reading your post I have to say, the arrogance in your comments is staggering! How can you assume that "Men in these countries are not known for their productivity"? Like I said, I am from Brazil, things and people might be different in Peru but don't speak for everyone out of pure assumption and ignorance. This just makes you sound like a conceited American who thinks other races are beneath them. So next time, please keep your thoughts to yourself and stay on topic: How to Make a Window Screen with Wooden Frame. Thank you!

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

August 20th, 2010

@Mimi:
I write from experience and observation, not assumption or ignorance. Só porque eu não sou um deles não significa que eu não entendo o que eles fazem ou não fazem.

…and as a Brazilian you should empathize, as according to many of the Brazilian women I've spoken to your native country is home to some of the laziest, most pampered men in Latin America.

Glad you found yourself someone useful to enjoy.

Australia

Rob

August 20th, 2010

Craig,
the Brazilian woman who commented on your post wrote in perfect english with extensive vocab.your little sentence in portuguese (blatantly lifted from translate.google.com) is not necessary.

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

August 20th, 2010

@Rob: My wife is fluent in Portuguese.

The United States

Cyndi (USA)

February 24th, 2011

I have been looking online for simple directions for creating a window frame. This is the best one yet!! Thank so much for the instructions. I cannot wait to make my window screen.Oh, and I found your commentary throughtout the instructions to be interesting as well. Thanks!

The United States

Tamara

August 8th, 2011

Thanks for the instructions "4 Dummies". Just moved into an old building and the old wooden windows do not have screens, so this is quick, cheap, and perfect for make-shift screens for the bottom half of my windows. Thanks!

Canada

cindy

August 21st, 2011

This was awsome! i made a bathroom screen for my daughters bathroom and your instuctions worked out perfectly. Thanks a bunch!!! :)

The United States

Teri from Anaheim, CA

February 25th, 2012

Craig, Thanks for the info on actually attaching the screening to the wood frame. I needed more detailed instructions and you came through for me. First phase: 14 wood screens to complete for my first floor windows. Second phase: another 15 wood frame screens for the second story…:-(
Yikes! You have just built my confidence level up by leaps and bounds!

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