Window screens are expanses of metal or plastic mesh that are stretched on a wood, metal, or plastic frame the same size as a window opening. Originally designed to facilitate the flow of fresh air into a home and keep mosquitoes out, window screens also provide some security for an open window and restrict the entry of leaves, windblown debris, and other insects. In seasonal climates, window screens are usually taken down in autumn and replaced by "storm windows" that provide extra insulation and protection from winter storms. After being removed, the screens are cleaned and put away until spring comes around once more.
The Beginnings of Window Screens
The window screen is a product of our industrial society although versions made of fine cloth were employed in the past. As European colonizers moved into tropical locations in the Americas, Africa, and Asia, some protection had to be found against biting insects, especially mosquitoes that transmitted malaria and other tropical fevers. At the same time, windows had to remain open so that houses wouldn't become hot as ovens.
Modern Window Screens and Frames
The first window screens must have seemed the answer to many people's prayers. Composed of "woven" strands of fine metal wire, these screens proved to be tough and effective. Modern versions use non-rusting metals such as aluminum or strong, flexible plastics like fiberglass.
The frames can be made of metal or fiberglass although wood is no longer commonly used. Often the frame incorporates spring clips to hold the screen in the window opening yet allow it to be easily removed for cleaning or replacement. The ultimate in window screens are made with an extremely fine mesh that prevents the entry of tiny particles of pollen, pollutants, even rain!
Maintenance of Window Screens
Window screens perform so well for so long that we don't notice it, until an "accident" happens and the holed screen suddenly isn't screening so well. It may seem amazing how quickly bugs find their way in through a damaged screen. What to do? You can always run out and buy a new screen, but thrifty types will repair the hole. It's not difficult and no welding is necessary. Just cut a "patch" from an old screen or a roll of screening material and trim it so that short lengths of wire can be bent at a 90-degree angle. Lay the patch down with the wire ends pointing up, lay the damaged screen on top so the hole is on top of the patch, and simply "sew" the wire ends into the existing screen mesh with a small needle-nose pliers.