The Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Installing Sun Screens

The Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Installing Sun Screens

Installing sun screens can be a rewarding project that provides your home with valuable protection from the sun's harmful rays. However, it's easy to make mistakes during the installation process that can reduce the effectiveness of your sun screens or even damage them. To ensure a smooth installation and long-lasting sun screens, it's important to be aware of common pitfalls. In this article, we'll outline the top 7 mistakes to avoid when installing sun screens so you can have windows protected properly from the sun.

Not Measuring Accurately

Precise measurements are crucial for a perfect sun screen fit. Take the time to accurately measure the length and width of all your windows before starting the installation. Measure at the top, middle, and bottom to account for any imperfections in the window frames. Also measure for necessary extensions or retractions on the sides. Using the wrong measurements can result in ill-fitting screens that look sloppy, don't provide full coverage, or are difficult to open and close smoothly.

When measuring, use a steel tape measure for the most accurate readings. Take two measurements across the horizontal and vertical planes to ensure consistency. Record the measurements, double checking for accuracy before cutting screen materials. It's also a good idea to measure several times per window to avoid transcription errors. Taking the time for precise measurements upfront avoids frustration and potential damage down the line from screens that don't fit properly.

Not Assessing Window Obstacles

Closely examine your windows for any obstacles like locks, cranks, or tilts that could interfere with a smooth-fitting sun screen installation. Failing to account for these features can result in screens that don't fit or function as intended. Look for latching mechanisms, hinges, or other movable parts that may create interference points.

It's also important to check for overhead obstructions like ac units, decorative trim, or awnings that may create clearance issues. Measure both extended and retracted positions of tilting windows, jalousie windows, and other movable window styles. Consider obstacles on the interior and exterior of the window. Assess each window individually as features can vary even within the same house. Proper planning based on an obstacle assessment avoids installation issues down the line.

Not Properly Anchoring Screens

Sun screens need to be securely anchored to withstand wind, rain, and sun exposure without sagging or detaching over time. Common anchoring methods include clips, adhesive, screws, or brackets—but screens must be properly installed using these systems.

Failure to correctly space and secure anchoring clips or run anchoring screws deep into the frame can cause screens to pull loose or sag prematurely. Adhesive anchoring requires a clean, dry surface and full adhesion across the entire perimeter for a strong bond. Brackets need the right angle and spacing to provide reinforcement without interfering with screen movement.

Take time with the anchoring phase, following manufacturer instructions closely. Periodically check new screens for secure attachment during initial exposure and windy conditions. Proper anchoring from the start helps sun screens withstand weathering and last for years to come.

Not Accounting for Mesh/Material Sag

All screen mesh and materials will experience some sag over time due to factors like gravity, weathering, and material properties. However, failure to account for this initial sag when cutting and installing can compromise coverage and functionality.

Stay aware that sun screen materials will experience around 1/4 inch of sag immediately after cutting and installing. Leave excess material at the top and edges to compensate during installation. Some materials like vinyl may hold their shape better—but it's always safest to assume some sagging will occur to maintain coverage on all sides. Re-measuring and adjusting as needed in the first few months is also a smart preventative step.

Not Installing Screens Square

Sun screens need to sit perfectly square in the window frame for a neat appearance and proper function. However, achieving a precise square installation can require careful attention to detail. Use a combination square or carpenter's level to ensure vertical and horizontal framing members are 90 degrees during installation.

Cut screen material with square corners to fit correctly in the frame without gaps. Make sure anchoring points lay flush across all four sides as well. Screens that are forced to sit at an angle may result in bulging, buckling, bending over time. A perfectly square installation enhances coverage, structure, and aesthetics of the finished sun screens. Take your time to avoid crooked installations that don't properly protect windows.

Not Sealing and Trimming Properly

Exposed edges and unnecessary light gaps undermine the performance of sun screens. While people envision solid coverage, exposed areas allow light and heat penetration that diminishes savings and protection. Properly sealing and trimming around screen perimeters fills in these unintended spaces.

Apply caulk, welting, or weatherstripping around all four sides and anchoring points to fully encapsulate screen material within the window frame. Ensure compound lay extends the entire depth of gaps with a neat, consistent bead. Trimming excess material flush leaves sharp, finished edges that overlay framing slightly for best coverage and aesthetics. Proper sealing makes the most of sun screen coverage around windows.

Not Maintaining Screens Properly

While sun screens provide ongoing sun protection, their functionality depends on proper upkeep over time. Failing to regularly maintain screens risks damage, premature wear, and coverage compromise. Periodic cleaning keeps screens looking fresh without obscuring coverage. Gently use a hose, mild cleaner, or wet sponge without abrasives that could scratch mesh.

Inspect screens periodically for loose anchoring or attachments coming undone due to weathering. Re-secure any points as needed for ongoing reinforcement. Address damage or deterioration promptly before it spreads, such as cracked mesh that reduces function. Consider re-caulking perimeter seals every 1-2 years for continuous coverage. With low-effort care, sun screens maintain peak performance season after season.

With conscientious attention to these common pitfalls, homeowners can ensure smooth, effective sun screen installations for long-lasting window protection. Using precise measurements, assessing obstacles, anchoring securely, maintaining proper fit, and attentive sealing and maintenance habits yield sun screens that function optimally without issues for many years. Installing screens the right way provides tranquility of mind knowing windows and interiors remain cool and comfortable all seasons long.


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