From keeping bugs out to letting fresh air in, window screens are a must-have for any savvy homeowner. But with so many new options in window screen meshes, it can feel a little overwhelming—should you choose polyester or copper; which is better for security?
For all your questions, we put together this window screen buying guide to help you prioritize your needs and choose the perfect house window screens for you and your humble abode.
We’ve broken down the guide into the following topics:
- Popular Screen Materials
- Key Functions of Window Screens
- Window Screen Frames
Let’s dive into everything you need to know about the “screen scene.”
Popular Window Screen Materials
The mesh-like wire commonly found in window screens is typically made from one of the following materials, each offering their own unique set of upsides:
- Fiberglass – Mesh screens constructed of fiberglass are known for their flexibility, which gives them a resistance to dents and creasing. They also offer excellent airflow and visibility and are widely regarded as the most popular choice.
- Polyester – More durable than fiberglass, polyester mesh is known for being tear-resistant. Polyester is a popular choice among pet owners who worry about their furry little friends clawing and destroying their window screens.
- Aluminum – Screens constructed of aluminum have a variety of upsides, the most important being their reputation for not sagging or rusting. This aluminum window screen variety also provides top-tier airflow.
- Stainless Steel – Stainless steel is known as one of the toughest materials used in the screen mesh. In a high-traffic area where safety is a concern, this is a favorite choice.
- Copper – Known primarily for its use as an insect screen, copper’s popularity is booming along coastal areas. It’s also quite popular for its distinct color, offering home designers a unique twist to incorporate into their plans.
Each material comes with its own advantages, some bolstering the most sought-after window screen functions. To that end, let’s dive into those functions, so you can isolate your priorities and choose the screen mesh for your home.
Key Functions of Window Screens
When deliberating which window screen is the best fit, it’s important to assess the main function, or functions, you need most. Do you live in a humid area where heat is often trapped indoors? Perhaps you should focus on airflow. Need that extra layer of security to sleep comfortably at night? There are meshes built for you.
Conventional motives homeowners have for installing window screens include:
- Pest Control
- Energy Savings
Whether you have one central worry or a combination of two or more concerns, this guide will help you better articulate your needs when it comes time to shop for window screens.
Let’s first discuss the most common factor for buying windows screens: fresh air.
If taking in breezes on cool summer nights is your priority—while still eliminating the risk of attracting bugs, debris, or even intruders—homeowners should consider the limits window screens can place on airflow.
According to a study by the National Institute of Health, screens can decrease airflow anywhere from 16% to 77%. Nevertheless, that air wouldn’t be coursing through your home at all if these windows were shut.
To that end, if the airflow is your primary concern, keep these basics in mind while you shop:
- Tighter mesh weaves, common in insect screens, will decrease airflow.
- Grey fiberglass mesh provides the best airflow
Should you want to indulge in a breeze and open up your windows, but still keep some semblance of privacy, you might want to prioritize the transparency factor of the window screen. Nowadays, screens range in their mesh wire thickness, allowing more (or less) sunlight through—meaning passersby can see more (or less) of what’s inside your home.
Some options to consider for transparency are:
- One-Way Screens – One-way screens, also known as a limited visibility mesh screen, let in sunlight almost like a one-way mirror. In other words, if you’re inside your home looking out, you’ll have decent visibility. However, if you’re outside your home looking in, you’ll have very limited visibility. In this way, you can still let in airflow and view the world outside without having to give up your privacy.
- High-Visibility Screens – One of the most impressive new screen features is invisibility. High-visibility screens, for example, are screens with such thin wiring that you barely notice they exist at all. Phifer, a manufacturer of new high-visibility screens, describes this option as giving “the look and feel of being outdoors while being indoors.”
Insects are known for disrupting a beautiful day outdoors. But when those pests ruin a beautiful day indoors—well, then it feels personal. The solution? A window insect screen geared toward pest control.
That said, nuisance isn’t the only reason to consider pest control screens. In fact, some pests, like mosquitoes, mice, and rats, are known to carry diseases. Thus, a window screen isn’t just for comfort, it’s also for safety. There’s a reason why pest control is one of the most commonly cited reasons for installing window screens.
The good news is, they work. Properly installed window screens allow homeowners to enjoy the breezy benefits of an open window while blocking out those creepy critters.
If you’ve struggled with any of the following pests in your home, consider a polyester-based or fiberglass screen:
The added strength of polyester-based screens will help with the larger pests; the tightly interlaced fiberglass mesh will help with the smaller ones.
Tip: If you’re dealing with the smallest of pests—think gnats and biting midges—you’ll want to consider 20 x 20 fiberglass mesh. While the tightness of this screen will reduce the airflow and sunlight coming through, it will be worth not having to deal with no-see-ums.
In the United States, there are an estimated 3.7 million household burglaries each year. Oftentimes, simply having window screens works as an added roadblock and can impede burglars. If you reside in a high-traffic area, security window screens can help to alleviate the risk.
A security screen is specifically designed to impede forced entry. These mesh and see-through fabrics are typically made from woven stainless steel threads attached to a metal screen frame using an interlocking system of clamps.
The end result is a heavy-duty screen that denies access to burglars, while still providing the comforts of standard window screens.
This evolution of window screens as a centerpiece of home safety is showing no signs of slowing down, either. Here are some new developments worth keeping an eye on:
- Child-Safety Screens – Many of the same technological advancements used to prevent forced entry by intruders also work to prevent falls caused by children leaning or pressing onto window screens.
- Fire Resistant Screens – Finer metal screens are being adopted in wildfire-prone areas. They have been proven successful in helping windows handle the excessive heat from nearby fires and blocking small embers from entering the home.
What hasn’t been mentioned up until now is the other major benefit to installing window screens on your home—they can save you money. By reducing the amount of sunlight flooding into your home in the summer months, you can dramatically reduce the need for air conditioning and lower your utility bills.
If this is your priority, then a solar screen is your golden ticket. Solar window screens can block up to 90% of the sun’s rays.
But what if you live in a colder climate and you want to trap heat in? Solar screens placed on the inside of windows (rather than on the outside) are perfect for keeping heat in.
Here’s how solar screens’ multifunctionality meet a variety of needs:
- Screen on the Inside of a Window – Ideal for cold climates. The interior set screen will absorb the sunlight, trapping the warmth inside your home where you need it.
- Screen Tacked on Outside of a Window – In hot climates, a solar screen tacked on the outside of a window will trap heat before it enters your home, and reduce the amount of sunlight coming in.
- Screen Hung Outside of a Window with a Gap – For a maximum cooling option, place a gap between the outside screen and the window. This separates the heat captured in the screen from the glass itself. The cooling effects work particularly well in breezy environments.
Window Screen Frames
Once you settle on the central purpose for your window screen, it’s finally time to think about the frame your screens will rest in. While there is an aesthetic aspect to frame selection, a large part of the decision comes down to which type of frame function you prefer.
Here are few frame functions to consider:
- Outswing window screens
- Fixed screens for windows
- Sliding window screens
The width and thickness of your frame will likely be dictated by your screen choice. For instance, a heavy-duty security screen will require a broader, more sizable frame.
Tip: Retractable window screens are trending. Unlike traditional window screens, the retractable version can be slid, and sometimes even rolled, away from the window when not in use.
Restoring, Repairing, and Replacing Window Screens: Glass Guru
With a better understanding of the functionality and types of window screens available, you might be ready to restore, repair, or replace yours. If you need help from a local specialist with window screen repair or screen replacement, consider the experts at the Glass Guru. We can help you navigate everything from the cost of various window screen combinations to a professional installation.
Bureau of Justice Statistics. National Crime Victimization Survey. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/ascii/vdhb.txt
National Institute of Health. Wind Tunnel Analysis of Air Flow Through Insect Screens. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4883381/
The Glass Guru. Window Screens. https://www.theglassguru.com/window-screens.php
Lansing Housing Products. Child Safety Screens. https://www.lansinghp.net/child-safety-screens/
Phifer. High Visibility Screens.
Every Solar Thing. Solar Screens. https://www.everysolarthing.com/blog/solar-screens/