How to Rescreen a Back Porch

by | Nov 24, 2010 01:27 PM ET

Rescreening a porch sounds so easy, doesn't it? It's NOT. At least, not if you don't have a proper plan of attack. I might not know the superlative strategy, but I do know one that works very well because I recently helped a friend rescreen his back porch and it was an epic battle: Us versus Inanimate Mesh! Sounds silly, but that mesh had moxie. Luckily, however, we managed to emerge victorious after being seriously harried during the first couple rounds of battle.

If you find yourself in a similar situation -- with a perfectly decent porch whose screening has taken a serious beating -- the first thing you need to do is remove any old screening that may still be hanging listlessly from the porch's wooden frame, along with any staples and wood slats that were holding it up. Then it's a good idea to fix up any issues you find with the frame -- perhaps you'll want to scrape it and give it a fresh coat of paint, or replace some sections that have started to rot.

Once that's done and you've got your supplies, such as screening, staples, slats and nails, plus tools like a staple gun, hammer, pliers, scissors, utility knife, and circular saw, it's time to go to town. There are other schools of thought when it comes to what order the sides should be stapled, but what we found made the tautest screening was to first securely staple one top corner (we usually started on the left), then the other. The trick is that the second corner (for us, the top right corner) will be removed later -- you're mainly affixing it to temporarily hold the screen in place -- so don't worry about doing it too securely. A couple of staples are fine.

Staple down the first vertical side, with one person (Person A) stapling and holding the screen stable and the other person (Person B -- that was me!) pulling down and out. Next, go back to the top and remove the temporary staples from the other corner with your pliers. Then Person B pulls the screen toward the non-secured side (in our case, to the right) to get it taut and straight while Person A is stapling across the top. Next, repeat what you both did on the last vertical, stapling every two or three inches -- you can't really use too many staples -- while keeping an eye out to make sure the screen isn't rippling, because you might need to adjust your handholds as you go. Finish up by stapling along the bottom and cutting away any excess screen.

Once all the screens are in place, nail in the slats (also called batten boards) to cover up the somewhat unsightly staples. You might want to paint them beforehand, and you'll more than likely need to cut them to length, which is where the circular saw comes in handy. (For the love of all that's holy: Read the warnings, follow the instructions and Be Careful with that thing!) There may be a couple of other tasks left depending on your particular porch, but all in all, it should be looking a lot better at this point. So enjoy those lovely fall sunsets, and when you head back inside to check the computer, don't forget to start following How-to Stuff on Facebook and Twitter!

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