Butterfly on a screenAre you looking to install or replace that mesh screen door or those window screens in your home? You might be interested to know that screens have evolved over the years to become a reliable defense against an insect invasion! The most common material used for window and door screens is a cloth made from aluminum and fiberglass wires.

But before wire cloth was used to protect us from insect invasions, people often used cheesecloth to cover their windows. Cheesecloth is loosely woven and so will allow air to circulate, but it is delicate and easily torn. Wire cloth was woven of fine metal wire, originally for sieves to sift flour and strain food.

A Good Idea

During the Civil War, the Gilbert and Bennett Company, a Connecticut firm that made sieves, found they were in a surplus of supplies, largely due to the loss of business in the South. One employee hit on a great idea: he coated the wire cloth with paint to prevent rust and sold it for window screens. The idea became so popular that the company made wire cloth a major part of its business, and it became a major manufacturer of screens for doors and windows.

Later, the company introduced rust resistant steel wire, which eliminated the need for painting the screen material. Initially, homeowners used wooden window frames or door frames, and affixed the screen material with nails. As time went on, ready-made screen doors and windows became available and proliferated across the country, so much so that checking and repairing screens on doors and windows has become a standard part of getting ready for warm weather for many people.

Further Materials for Screens

Aluminum is generally available in natural aluminum or in an applied black or charcoal color, which make the screening much less visible. Fiberglass is available in light gray as well as charcoal colors, the charcoal again offering better viewing and appearance. Fiberglass is less expensive, and has the advantage of not “denting” when hit or pushed, but it is somewhat more opaque than aluminum. For this reason, dark aluminum allows a better view of windows from the exterior, detracting less than fiberglass from the architectural effect of traditional divided-light window styles. For applications requiring greater strength, such as screened doors, nylon and polyester screening are also available.

Other Applications

But keeping out critters isn’t all a good screen door can do for you. Denser screen types reduce sunlight and heat gain, and offer significant potential energy savings in hot climates. And if you’re not a big fan of the look, there are screens that disappear into a pocket when not in use. These retractable screens are available for casement windows as well as other types of window and door openings.

Do-it-yourself screen and frame replacement kits are widely available at hardware and home improvement stores. Screen replacement kits usually consist of a roll of nylon screening fabric and a generous supply of rubber spline. But for the best results, always consult a screen door and window professional. Keeping bugs outside and protecting your family inside is the bottom line, and you will find a myriad of options available for your screen needs.

Mosquito on a screenWhen fair weather comes, everyone likes to have their windows open to the world, protecting their interiors with a window screen. Open windows let in fresh, moving air. They let in the scents that cruise on the breezes. And those screens that are everywhere keep all types of bugs on the outside. Having good screens can be important for keeping your home comfortable.

Screening Everything

These days, we don’t give a second thought about putting screens into any framed divider that will stand between the outdoors and our personal spaces. Porches, patios, sun rooms, and all the regular windows, we put window screens in all these openings. Large mesh, small mesh, metal or plastic, screens can be made in all sizes and from a wide variety of materials.

History of Screens

Until 1823, windows were wide open when they were open. The only option people had was to use regular shutters. Everything that flies and buzzes could come soaring into the residence, because there was nothing to keep the bugs out. That changed in 1823, when references to “wove wire for window screens” started appearing. By 1839, Quincy Hall in Boston exhibited two wire window screens. In the 1860s an employee of Gilbert, Bennett and Company started marketing a “wire cloth” that was sold as screens. The window screen had taken root in the American mindset.

Benefits of Screens

The surprising thing is that screens designed specifically to keep insects from getting inside buildings where not patented in the United States. Various designs for screens were given several patents, but no one put one forward with that specific intention. Even so, because America took to the fresh air fashion made possible by window screens, a number of parasitic diseases were largely decreased. The fact that the use of window screens had become widespread in America meant that swarms of bugs, like mosquitoes, were kept out of the home.


Keeping your home free of intrusive bugs depends on the durability and fit of your window screens. A specialist can make sure your screens fit snuggly, without leaving gaps between the screen and the window frame. Ask for a consultation, to find out what will work best for your home.

Peninsula Mobile Screens is a family business that has been providing outstanding screen installation and repair services for more than two decades.
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