How I installed sun blocking window screens (and got stuck on my roof)

Listen, Texas is HOT. It's one of the many reasons I love it here. The thing is, you can escape the heat by simply going inside to be wrapped in the frigid arms of your air conditioner. My house, however, faces West. I didn't even consider that to be an issue when I bought it. Like I mean, I guess I'll get to see sunsets? Whatever. 

But that shit matters

Mine and my kid's rooms get direct sunlight from 12:01pm-sunset, which means those rooms get hotter than Chris Hemsworth with his shirt off. I tried blackout curtains to cool the rooms, and they help a little but not a whole lot. I've had my air conditioner looked at for a potential air flow problem (still not off the table). I bought us fans. Soon I'm going to replace my carpet with wood floors, all in the name of not sweating while I sleep. Waking up with pit stains isn't cute. My bedroom is consistently about 4-5 degrees hotter than any other room (and not just because I'm in it, mrowr). I powered through two summers of this before I says to myself, I says "Say, howsabout I get some of those ugly black sun blocking screens?"

It's like the heavens rained hellfire on my bedroom.

So I jumped through the HOA hoops - two forms to fill out and a meeting with a board member before the ominous board of directors will put my window treatment preference up to a vote. It's very serious. Their only stipulation is that I have to include the window grid on the outside. Okay.

Screen frame kit
Solar sun blocking screen
And my ace in the hole: melamine edging

Saw and miter box
Spline roller aka adorbs dual pizza cutter
Duct tape

Making the screen is the easy part, just follow the instructions on the kit and you're golden. Measuring the window correctly is key - there's a lip where you can see a screen will fit in. Measure that, then subtract 1.5" from each piece to account for the corner connectors. Measure it out on your aluminum pieces and use your miter box to cut it like a boss.

Cuttin' stuff.
Bein' a BAMF.

Put your screen frame together with the corner pieces and top tension pieces (it all comes in the kit), and tape it to the ground to add the screen. Tip: Cut your screen piece a little bigger than you think. You can always trim the excess, but if your HOA is like mine, they may frown upon a duct tape patch job if you come up short. Once you roll your screen out and cut it, tape it down and remove the spline from each side of the frame one at a time, and use your cute lil pizza cutter aka spline roller to smash it back in the groove on top of the screen so it grabs it and sticks it in there.

Hey girl, that's a nice spline rollin' job.

Now's the tricky bit. The grid. I'm hoping my solution works for the long term, but I'm not sure how it will be affected by weather. I used the melamine edging to make a grid and ironed it straight on to the screen. Boom.

Leave it to a woman to figure out how to incorporate ironing into handy work.

Put a towel down and cut the horizontal strips. I just eyeballed the distance with my eyeballs using the same grid that's on the window already. Iron them down one at a time, then do the vertical pieces. Tip: Place the iron and lift it, don't slide the iron like you would for clothes. Work quickly so the screen doesn't melt. It sticks like a charm, so we'll just see what happens the next time it rains.

Now for the installation. I'm a teensy bit afraid of heights, but it's selective. Usually I get anxious when there are several factors contributing to surefire failure, like being on the roof and the shingles are hotter than the Earth's core and my ladder is awkwardly placed. I may have gotten stuck on my roof for 45 minutes yesterday due to these factors, but on the upside I discovered my gutters are pretty clean and that I'm capable of moving my ladder while still being up on the roof. I'm basically Spider-Man.

Baking on the roof.
But dem screens doe.

I was smarter with the ladder for the second set of screens. Pro tip: Place your ladder so that only a rung or two is sticking up above the roof. This way you can step over it to climb down. Easy peasy. The first time, my ladder was sticking up 3-4 rungs, so I had to attempt to swing around the side, aka NOPE. So that's when I moved it, which was a huge risk because what if it fell? I'd still be up there, but at least I'd have a nice tan.

Got them installed just in time for the sun to go down.

It took me all afternoon, but that's because I was dumb and new at this. If you know what you're doing, these 3 screens could be made and installed in 1-2 hours. Not too shabby.


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