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"Screen-Tight" tips

mowog74's picture

I'm just about finished installing a porchful of screens using the Screen-Tight system (, and have worked out a few tips that I thought I'd share in case anyone's interested.  When I started I found there wasn't much in the way of detailed installation instructions out on the internet.

For anyone not familiar with the system, it consists of a black plastic base that's fastened to your porch framing, with channels that receive the edge of the screen and stretch it into place with standard rolled-in rubber screen bead.  Then you snap on a plastic cap strip which covers the base and beads.

Base Installation
The base is slotted every 6" or so for fasteners, and the manufacturer says you can use nails or screws.  I didn't like my chances of driving that many nails without damaging the bead channels, so I opted for 1 1/4" coated exterior screws, leaving them a hair loose to allow for thermal expansion.  I don't know yet how much of a factor that will be, but I figured it couldn't hurt.  The funnel heads aren't ideal for this; if my Lowe's had carried them I would have opted for something like a 3/4" stainless pan-head screw instead to have more of a flat bearing surface on the base.

As the manufacturer indicates, base installation goes fastest if you can leave one end long and cut with pruning shears after most of the strip is fastened.  Since the base will be completely covered by the finish cap later on, there's no need for extreme accuracy at this stage.  I also took the manufacturer's advice in not mitering the corners--this saved a ton of time both at this stage and the finish cap stage and I'm happy with the look.

Screen Installation
HD carries a bulk tub of Screen-Tight brand screen bead which I found was great for doing a whole porch.  The bead feeds out of a hole in the top which was convenient.  I also used their roller, which worked well and has a hook blade in the other end which I didn't use (but did constantly check to make sure it was retracted before grabbing the handle!).

The manufacturer recommends installing the top bead for a given panel, then the two sides, then the bottom, and I found this order worked well.  I was able to span multiple openings with one big length of screen, and separate it into individual panels as I worked.  In this case, run the bead across the entire length of the top, then do one vertical end, then do your interior verticals in succession from that end, cutting the panels apart before installing the beads on either side of the post.  The fiberglass screen doesn't stretch as much as you'd think, so you need the cut to allow the screen material to flow into the channel from the cut side as you roll in the bead.

When running the bead, I found it took a lot of pressure to roll the bead in, and instead started tapping it in partially with a rubber mallet to start, then going back and using the roller to drive the bead all the way in the channel.  This worked great--it's easy to hold some tension on the screen and bead and tap at the same time, and the rolling was much easier with the bead partially in place.  I also think this helped eliminate wrinkles, as the screen is stretched in two smaller steps instead of one big one. 

Here's the method I used which worked well to prevent wrinkles.  Tack one top corner in place with a short length of bead partially driven into the channel.  Leave the top of the screen about 1" above the channel.  Then go to the other top corner and start your main bead, maintaining that 1" overhang across the whole top as you go.  After tapping the bead partially in, go back and use the roller to seat it all the way in the channel.  Now do one vertical side, starting at the top and working down.  As you tap in the bead, apply slight tension on the screen diagonally down and outward (mostly down).  You should be able to hold this tension and keep the bead positioned with one hand, and tap with the mallet in the other.  Now seat this bead fully with the roller.  Then go to the other vertical and again work from top to bottom.  This time you'll also apply tension diagonally, but now you want to pull a little more firmly, and at more of a 45 down and outward so you're applying equal tension against the top and opposite vertical beads.  If you get a little bubble or wrinkle as you go, just pull out the bead, apply more tension to the screen in that spot and tap the bead back in.  Seat this bead with the roller.  The bottom bead should be pretty easy at this point and any tension you apply should be straight down. 

Once you're finished with the bead, just go back and run a knife along the inside of the base channel to cut off the excess screen.  In my case, a lot of my porch is on a raised deck so to minimize ladder repositioning I did all three steps (tapping, rolling, cutting) for as much length as I could reach from the ladder, then moved on to the next section, and this worked well too. 

Cap Installation
There's not much to be said about this part, you just tap the cap into the base with a soft mallet.  You can still run the material long and cut it with pruning shears, although you'll obviously want to be more careful since this part will be showing.  I learned the hard way not to try to slide the cap after it's completely installed; burrs on the cut end will catch on the screen and tear it up.

Anyway, hopefully this little tutorial was clear and will be of use to someone.  I'm happy with the results.  The channel & bead installation stretches the screen a lot more tightly that I would have been comfortable doing with battens, and it should be easy to repair later if necessary.  And a little less to paint is always a plus.


(post #105363, reply #1 of 9)

Thanks Mike -

Wish I had seen this before I used this system at a beach house we did.  We managed alright after some trial and error.

One thing I would add that I wish we had done differently was to leave some excess screen (1"?) rather than trimming it close to the spline.  We've had a couple spots blow loose and it would be an easy fix if we had some excess screen to grab onto and re-roll back into the spline.  I'm not sure if that would have interfered with the caps - it seems like there would be enough room.



(post #105363, reply #2 of 9)

These tips all came from trial and error too. :)
Good idea leaving extra, but the excess would have to go between the cap and base where they snap together which could make for a tight fit. It'd certainly be worth trying though...

screen tight problem (post #105363, reply #3 of 9)

I'm an amateur home improver with a problem installing the cap onto the top track of the screen tight system.

I can't seem to get it hammered into place with the mallet as it is a tight space.  I tried trimming the top edge of the cap but that didn't help the situation either.  My knuckle is bloody and I'm about to cry.  Help!

Kathy (post #105363, reply #4 of 9)

Can you tape the strip in place and then use a block against it to hammer on.  This will allow you to get your fingers out of the way and maybe give you a method that makes the hammering more productive.

You might have to cut the end of the block at a slight angle, so the force is mostly on the top edge.

Best of luck.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


In addition you should also (post #105363, reply #5 of 9)

In addition you should also make sure that top track is in good shape along its length.  I found that it doesn't take much to make the cap difficult or impossible to snap in.  If you have a damaged section (like from an errant hammer blow), you might be able to shave away the damaged bits of track with a utility knife while still keeping the screen bead still locked into its groove. Alternately you could trim off a short length of the mating "fins" on the cap corresponding to the damaged section of track -- as long as that unattached length of cap is less than a foot or so I don't think you'll notice.

If these answers don't help maybe you could post a photo and some more description of the problem (ie. is the space just so cramped you can't get your mallet to connect, or are you hitting it but it's not snapping in?).  Good luck!

screen tight (post #105363, reply #6 of 9)

I'm getting ready to screen my back porch.  The frames are in place in top and bottom sections.  My question is:  Do I screen the top and bottom with 1 piece of screen material and do it at the same time or do I cut screen for the top section, do it and then cut and do the bottom section.  I'm using the Screen Tight material that you wrote about, which by the way is very helpful.

Thanks, UH Bucks

Does anyone know if Screen (post #105363, reply #7 of 9)

Does anyone know if Screen Tight can be installed on the inside of an opening, rather than along an outer edge? This would put the base and cap at right angles to the screen.

Does anyone know if Screen (post #105363, reply #8 of 9)

Does anyone know if Screen Tight can be installed on the inside of an opening, rather than along an outer edge? This would put the base and cap at right angles to the screen.

Installation screws for screen tight base (post #105363, reply #9 of 9)

Great info thank you very much.

I have a question regarding the installation screws. I plan to use a #8 stainless steel screw about 3/4" to 1" in length. I'm using SS screws per your recommendation. I like SS hardware. My concern is the screw head style. Can the screw head interfere with the installation of the cap.


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