I would still like to be able to escape from a fire
October 7, 2013 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I need to attach a window screen to my fire escape window. Obviously I'd like it to break away when necessary (and also so I can water my herbs strapped to the bars on the upper half of the window). How can I do this most effectively and with materials I already have? It needs to cover both the top and bottom half of the window, and there's no existing screen frame.

I have:
sufficient screening, which is quite tightly woven. I could make a hammock out of this stuff.
gorilla glue
velcro meant to be used to tie tomato plants to stakes
magnet on a roll
a tension rod
some vinyl oilcloth I was planning to cut up to use for stiffener along the edges
several nearby hardware stores if need be

My plan was: for the non-moving top half of the window, glue to the oilcloth to the screen, then the velcro to that (the velcro won't superglue directly to the screen), and the other half of the velcro to the aluminum window frame.
For the moving bottom half: glue the magnet roll to the screen, glue more magnet roll to the frame, be done.

This doesn't need to be reversible, but it really needs to keep the bugs out and snap back into place. Does my plan make sense? Should I be using different glue, or different attachment methods?
posted by mgar to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
You could just hang two pieces of the screening, each 2/3 of the width of the window, so they overlap in the middle (maybe attach to the corners of the window and put little weights on the inside corners). You just separate them like curtains when you want to go out, and they fall back into place and keep out the bugs.
posted by Etrigan at 12:35 PM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Magnetic tape seems to be your best friend here. Surface surface surface area.

I'd basically put the magnetic tape on the window frame, facing "out" into the room.

I'd buy an inexpensive metal tape measure (a ten footer should do) and then cut it to frame the window.

I'd cut the screening fabric larger than the window, enough to roll in the the metal tape measure strips in at least once. Slap against magnetized window frame.

My only concern is that magnetic tape is pretty weak. I'd think about splurging on rare earth magnets.

Given the availabilty of tin snips and wall corners and accurate measuring tools, I'd "frame" the inside of the window with those metal wall corner things (the kind you put where your sheet rock meets at a corner before you mud and paint it), then use magnets to secure the window screen in place 'inside' it.

Dependencies - what kind of bugs are you keeping out? Mosquitos or moths? Are they going to try to "flit in" or are they going to be slamming against it/sneaking around the edges?
posted by tilde at 12:36 PM on October 7, 2013

Is there a reason you want to MacGyver this? It's really easy and pretty cheap to do it the right way, unless this is a strange window that doesn't conform to most norms. Here are some instructions and if you measure correctly, it should come out looking like it came with the window.
posted by sageleaf at 12:36 PM on October 7, 2013

I'd buy an inexpensive metal tape measure (a ten footer should do) and then cut it to frame the window.

That is a good idea. I have plenty of rare earth magnets I could press into service, and some heavy magnetic rocks for weights along the bottom.

what kind of bugs are you keeping out?

Mosquitoes mostly, but, you know, all of them. Probably more flitting than slamming.

Is there a reason you want to MacGyver this?

It needs to break away. Fire escaping aside, I water the plants strapped to the security bars at least daily, and I'd like it to keep the bugs out while I'm out there.

I used to have a screen made for patio doors where the screens overlapped, but not by much, and it was a bit fiddly and ended up not being very sturdy.
posted by mgar at 12:51 PM on October 7, 2013

You can buy removable screens pretty cheaply.
posted by ghharr at 12:56 PM on October 7, 2013

In that case, I'd get a pressure rod or three; I'd do as other people mentioned, overlapping but in two ways.

First, over the fixed, non movable section, a pressure curtain rod at the top and the bottom of the area. Sew a hem through which you can slide the pressure rods at the top and bottom of the 'curtain' - make it wider than the window so you can overlap the end of the rod and cover the area gap of the edge.

Then, over part of the bottom of the fixed no movable section, have a third rod for the second section. Have it overlap the bottom of the fixed area and get them as close as possible to minimise the gap. Do the same with the overlapping, but make it wider than the fixed one so the bottom can be weighted and drape out below the window; hold in place with magnets weights, etc.

It's hard to describe the picture in my head, but imagine it's like a shoebox lid, but tightly fit in the window for the top one, sorta boxy at the top of the bottom one, and drapey at the bottom one. If you can get the tolerances right, just do the same "shoebox lid" idea for the bottom one. you don't need a pressure rod in that one, but something to stiffen it, like a bit of balsa or whatever.

pressure rods will slide around and need to be adjusted from time to time - unless they are massively cheap it will last and tear out easy in case of fire.

Is this a rental or do you own it?
posted by tilde at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2013

I rent, so I'll either remove everything before I move out, or point it out and see what he says.

But I like the idea of the top section being held in place by tension rods; maybe then I can do the overlapping screens on the bottom section with a third tension rod.
posted by mgar at 4:53 AM on October 8, 2013

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