Replacing RV Window Screens With Pet Safe Screens
We have a cat named Taystee. She loves being able to look out every window and enjoys sleeping by them. We like to keep the windows cracked when we leave to go on a hike or visit a nearby town to make sure she’s getting enough air and staying cool. We soon realized that we didn’t trust the thin screens that came standard on the trailer. It was way too easy for her to rip through them and we had damaged screens within a few days of moving into the trailer.
After a quick online search, I learned about pet-proof screens that were not only strong enough to withstand cat claws but also dogs. I soon replaced every screen in the trailer, including the screen on the door. It’s been a few months, and so far she hasn’t been able to rip holes in any of the screens and trust me, she has tried. We can now leave the front door open without worrying about her escaping through the screen door.
The only negative thing we’ve found so far is the fact that the windows let in less light since the screen is thicker. We can still see through it, but it’s significantly harder with this thick screen. It’s still worth it for us though since it lets our cat stay cool in the trailer when she wants to and if we want more light we can just step outside.
What You Will Need
We used Phifer PetScreen 36×84 inches and were able to rescreen the entire trailer (32 feet travel trailer) with only two rolls and had plenty left over. They sell other sizes, so it is a good idea to measure all the screens in your trailer first to know how much you will need. It all depends on how many windows and doors you have. Our trailer has seven windows with screens and one door.
The additional tools needed are scissors, a box cutter, masking tape, a screen rolling tool (we used this one), and the proper size of spline material. Because the pet screen is so heavy duty, I recommend using spline that is one size smaller than what is used for a standard screen. To make sure we had the right size, we took out the existing spline from each window, measured the width, then bought one size smaller.
Some of the windows had tiny screens, and we were unable to find any smaller spline, in that case, we just reused the spline, it was a little harder to rescreen, but it ended up working fine.
Step by Step Installation
Step 1 – Remove the old screen and spline.
Remove the old screen from the frame by locating the spot where the rubber spine meets. Pick out one side and pull out of the frame. The screen should come right out once the spline is removed.
Step 2 – Measure and cut the pet screen to fit the frame.
To measure how much screen you will need, roll out the pet screen on a flat surface and place the frame on the screen. You want to end up with about an inch to a half inch over the edge like in the pictures below.
The screen cuts easily with scissors, and you don’t have to worry about cutting the screen perfectly straight, as long as there is screen hanging over all four sides of the frame you will have enough.
Step 3 – Center and tape the pet screen to the frame.
Once you have cut the pet screen, place the frame with the back side (the side with the grooves for the spline) facing up. You may want to place the frame on a soft surface like a towel or a rug so it won’t be scratched while you are working on it. Take the pet screen and center it over the frame. Use masking tape to tape three sides down so it won’t move while you are placing the spline on the first side.
Step 4 – Roll in the spline.
The spline roller has two different rollers on it, one that is grooved and one that is just a flat wheel. I use the flat wheel side first to start pushing the screen into the groove. Do this along the entire first side making multiple passes, so it makes a clearly defined indent in the screen.
Don’t worry about putting any tension on the screen as it will do that on its own. As long as the screen stays flat and even the screen should end up not too tight or loose. Now you are ready to start with the spline. You can start wherever you want on the first side. I like to start about 3 inches from the corner.
Take the spline from the bag and find one end, you don’t need to measure and cut it yet because you can do that when you have splined the entire screen. Begin by pushing one end into the groove. Use a blunt, flat head screwdriver to help get it started, once the first part is securely placed you can hold out the spline and use the grooved side of the roller to push it in. It may take a few passes to push the spline in fully. I go about 3 or 4 inches then roll over the spline applying pressure until it is entirely in the groove and secure.
If it is too hard to fit the spline into the groove, you may have bought a size that is too large. It should fit securely but not be extremely hard to place.
The corners can be especially tricky. There were times when I had to use the screwdriver to push the spline in along the entire curve then use the roller to push it in completely after.
Continue working the spline in along the whole frame removing the tape as you go. Make sure the screen stays even and doesn’t have any folds in it. By the time you get to the last side, the screen should start to tighten up slightly but not so much that it bends the frame. Once you reach where you began, cut the spline, so both ends of the spline are touching.
Step 5 – Cut the leftover screen with a box cutter.
The screen should look like this once the spline has been placed with about an inch of material sticking out.
Using a box cutter, cut the extra pet screen along the spline. You can cut the screen very short directly along the spine or cut it flush with the frame. I like to cut it along the frame leaving about 1/8 inch sticking up from the spline.
Once you have cut off all the extra screen, it should look like this.
Step 6 – Put the screen back into the window
If the screen is having a hard time staying in or doesn’t fit like it did before you may have made the screen too tight. Rescreening is easy. All you need to do is remove the spline on one side, adjust the screen and replace the spline. This is also how you tighten the screen if it is too loose.
I did this a couple of months ago and our cat has been scratching with her sharp claws without damaging the screens. We’re very happy so far and feel like it was worth it even though it took a couple of hours to get all the windows done. Knowing that we can leave our trailer and go on a hike with the windows left open without the risk of her clawing through the screen and getting out or anything getting inside, has made the time and money worth it.
Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment.