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This time of year, hordes of flies visit our 1930s-built home. One would think we were in farm country the way the flying pests invade. The real culprit for the invasion is our lack of screens. The last homeowner seemed to deem them unnecessary, but the Kelly family is beginning to think otherwise.

“Time to get a mobile screen guy out here,” moaned hubby Patrick as he herded a fly out the open window. “Within a couple of weeks we will be inundated with them,” he added.

“I can make a screen for pretty much any operating window,” explained David, owner of Screens on Wheels (858-271-7579, 858-231-7579). “I can make or repair window screens for aluminum sliding windows, for the old single-hung windows that go up and down, for sliding-glass-door screens or entry doors. I can do all of that from what is in my truck.”

About sliding-glass doors… “Every sliding- glass door is a different dimension. Every manufacturer makes them different sizes, so there is no continuity of size. We sort of have a niche: we come out, measure them, make them, put them in, and drive away.”

What material are the frames made of?

“Everything I deal with — the window frames and the door-screen frames — are made of aluminum. There is vinyl available for marine areas, but it is kind of a custom-order situation. But 99 percent of window screens these days are made from aluminum frames.”

The screen itself “is either black or gray fiberglass.”

How long should screens last?

“Well, it depends on a couple of things. The marine environment in La Jolla is certainly harder on aluminum frames than, say, Spring Valley. And with regards to the fiberglass cloth that goes in them, it will last about 12 to 15 years, without cats or kids working at it. The sun degrades it eventually, and it fades. Even birds pick out little bits to make nests with it. The aluminum frame, you may be able to get another 10 years out of that, [then] just rescreen it.”

There are other types of screening available, says David. “Pet screen, which is approximately six or seven times stronger than regular screen, and about three times the expense, is also available, and sometimes the expense is worth it. I have had people call me repeatedly because the same dog tears the same hole in the same screen….

“Sun-proof screen is also available and in a variety of colors. That is a thicker product because it attempts to keep the sun out, but you’ll also get less air and less light penetration. It will darken a room or cut down on the air circulation.”

David says he can build six new window frames and screens in an hour and rescreen six to seven screens in an hour. He charges a $75 minimum. To rescreen a patio door, it runs between $42.50 and $47.50. To make a whole new frame and screen from a kit, the cost runs between $139.50 and $149.50 for an eight-foot-tall door.

Prudy Martin, office manager at ScreenMobile (619-280-2280, 760-751-1138, 858-759-0920) filled me in on her company’s screening work. “We will make new frames and screens or rescreen any window screen, even casement windows or standard windows. The frames have fiberglass screening, and then, depending on the width that’s needed for the window, we have the aluminum frames that we make onsite. And we use aluminum corners — we don’t use plastic corners. Our frames have baked-on color coating for oxidation and a baked-on coating for color.”

For screens, “We have fiberglass, pet screen, and sun screen. The pet screen is a fiberglass also, but it is a warrantied screen for animals. With the sun screen, you can get an 80 and a 90 percent block.”

For colors, “We have charcoal and gray for the screens, and for the frames: brown, black, gray, or white. You can powder coat also. Some of the custom homes ask for powder coating so they can have a green or a tan.”

And the price?

“It’s $36 for a frame and screen, plus tax, for any size window. And it is $26 for a rescreen. There are some extra costs for plunge latches or jiffy clips — the different mechanisms to hold some of the older screens in. The price for a door to be rescreened runs $48.”

For a typical house “that has 10 to 15 windows and a patio slider or two, it will take a half a day to do the screens.”

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Comments

monaghan May 14, 2009 @ 1:41 p.m.

Any vendor who claims fiberglass screens last for years is selling, not truth-telling, especially if there are kids or pets involved. Whatever happened to wood frames and copper screens for a 1930's-era house? That's the problem with these screens-on-a-truck folks: they only know chintzy modern materials and quick-and-dirty fabrication. You may pay more for the wood and copper screens, but they last infinitely longer and look better over a long time.

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JR March 18, 2010 @ 1:18 p.m.

I have over 24 years in the mobile screening business. The above poster is just plain incorrect in his comments and understanding of screens. Here are some screen facts:

  1. Fiberglass screen can last for up to 20 years without needing replacement. The biggest factor that determines screen life is how much sun exposure it gets over the years. West facing screens will wear out faster than north facing screens due to the constant sun exposure.

  2. Fiberglass screen is not designed to keep pets out or kids in! It's purpose is to keep flying insects at bay! If you need a screen for pets and kids try Tiger Wire screen. It is stainless steel with a black powder coat and it is guaranteed pet proof. www.gotigerwire.com

  3. 95% of all windows utilize fiberglass screen and are designed to accept an aluminum screen frame, not a wood frame. Wood screens are found on older homes and are becoming less and less common as homeowners upgrade their old wood "double hung" windows to the more efficient vinyl or aluminum types.

  4. It is up to 4 times more expensive to repair a wood screen versus an aluminum screen. The reason is the time (labor) required to do it correctly. Wood is either painted or stained, has a custom molding/trim that may not be reusable because it is old and dried out. If so it may not come off with out cracking or breaking. This means you have to find the same type of molding to replace it, paint or stain it, then put it all back together. The labor is much longer.

  5. As for Copper wire: Do you know what the cost of copper has done in the last 5 years? It is extremely expensive. Copper wire also turns a nice blueish green (Pantena) color after a few years. It is not easy to see through and everything you do see is a nice blueish green! Also if a pet or kid pokes a hole in it expect to pay big bucks!

  6. All window manufacturers use fiberglass screen now. Wood screens are considered custom and very expensive.

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