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Solar screens on windows reduce heat inside house

Q: I bought a house with bedrooms that face the south side of the house. During the summer, the heat in those rooms is brutal. They already have ceiling fans, but I am wondering if putting up some solar screens would help.

A: Solar screens are a great idea. They can reduce the heat that comes in through the windows and make living in those rooms much easier.

Solar screens typically block between 65 percent and 90 percent of the heat entering your home through the windows. They also can help prevent your furniture and carpet from fading. The only downside is that if you like looking out of those windows, your view will not be as clear.

Solar screens are built similarly to regular window screens, but they use a larger mesh screening material.

Solar screening kits cost about $60 for an average-size window. You will need the frame, screening material, corner pieces and some rubber “spline” cord to hold the screen inside the groove of the frame. The pieces also can be bought individually.

Among the differences between solar screens and regular window screens is the frame. Because the screening material for solar screens is heavier and thicker, the frames have to be heavier and more rigid to support the material while it is stretched taut. Also, whereas window screens mount into the window tracks, solar screens are attached to the outside of the window frames using clips.

Start by taking measurements of the windows you will cover and add one-quarter of an inch to the dimensions.

Find a large, flat surface on which to work. Your floor is fine, just don’t move the frame around, or you might scratch it.

Lay the frame on the floor so that the groove is face up and cut the frame pieces to size. Use a hacksaw and make a nice square cut. Make sure to account for the size of the corner pieces to determine the overall length.

The frame pieces will slide into the corner pieces to form the frame. You can add a brace to the center of the frame for support.

Once the frame is built, take it to the window to check it for size. If it is too big, you can disassemble it and cut it. If the frame is too small, you have to build a new frame.

Once it is the right size, cut a piece of the screening material and lay it over the frame. Make sure the screening overlaps the frame by several inches on all sides, then grab the spline cord and rolling tool.

Start at one corner and push the spline into the groove so that it sandwiches the screening into the groove. Lay the roll of spline out onto the screen and push the rolling tool on it. This tool is simply a handle with a small wheel attached to it, so it looks and operates just like a pizza cutter. As you approach the corners, use scissors and make a diagonal cut so that the corners don’t wrinkle. Gently pull the screening material taut as you roll the spline around the frame.

Once you have secured the screening into the frame, use a utility knife and cut the screening to size by running the blade around the perimeter of the frame. All that is left to do is mount the screen to the window.

Hold the screen up to the window and make some marks near the corners of the frame. Each side will get two clips about 6 inches from the corner. Larger screens will need an additional clip in the middle of each side.

Drill a small hole so that it just penetrates the wall. Once all the clips are in, hold the frame to the window and flip the clips to hold the frame to the window.

Now maybe you won’t have to squint so much in those rooms.

Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and owner of Las Vegas Handyman. Questions may be sent by email to handymanoflasvegas@msn.com. Or, mail to 4710 W. Dewey Drive, No. 100, Las Vegas, NV 89118. His web address is www.handymanoflasvegas.com.

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