A broken window screen pull tab.

Easy Fix for Broken Window Screen Pull Tabs

The other month I got around to cleaning the windows of the house for the first time in years. With the goal of being able to look out of the house without streaks of sediment obscuring the view, I attempted to remove the window screens so that I could reach around and clean the outside of the windows on the top floor, and to be able to wash the windows on the first floor without have to remove the sliding window panes.

There was one problem though: those darn window screen pull tabs kept snapping off or were already broken. It seems like every home I have owned, or apartment I have lived in, has had such a problem. I hereby nominate plastic window screen pull tabs as some of the worst household items ever engineered.

I then did a video search of how people dealt with these broken pieces of plastic. It looked like they replaced them with identical parts (i.e., pieces of cr*p). The procedure looked cumbersome too. It involved removing the rubber splines, pulling out the broken plastic pieces, placing in a new tab while attempting to keep the wire mesh screen taut, and rolling the spline back in. There seemed to be significant risk of tearing the wire mesh, damaging the frame, or not assembling the screen taut enough. And then there was the issue of the inadequacy of the plastic tabs to begin with.

There had to be a better way.

Well, this is what I came up with. The “solution” has been used to fix virtually anything, from broken tents to torn backpacks. It has even been successfully used create a boat to escape an island. (Never mind I failed miserably in trying to create a paddleboard out of it.)

Yes, I mean duct tape.

Before you laugh and dismiss this as a totally unprofessional kludge, please watch the this quick video I made of the fix.


The advantages of the duct tape tabs can be summarized as follows:

  • Cheap: you likely already have duct tape in your home.
  • Easy: Just cut to size and wrap it around the frame as shown in the video. Even the most DIY-challenged folks could do this.
  • Durable: Unlike the plastic tabs, they will not harden and become brittle.
  • Work better: In contrast to the plastic tabs which tug against the rubber spline and screen mesh, the duct tape wraps completely around the screen frame so when you pull on it, you are essentially pulling on the outside of the frame.

As for the disadvantages? You might suspect that duct tape looks bad or, at the very least, unprofessional. But in reality, you will almost never see these new tabs. Even with the window open, they are hardly noticeable—especially if you choose duct tape that is the same color as the screen frame.

You can look at the tabs I made in the video and judge for yourself. I think they look pretty good. They will never snap off, that’s for sure.

Now if only someone can come up with a solution for keeping windows unsullied without an annual cleaning. Or maybe I should just leave the windows alone until I absolutely cannot see out of them. Streaks of sediment are natural, after all.

A broken window screen pull tab.
A broken window screen pull tab.
Using duct tape to replace a broken window screen pull tab.
Using duct tape to replace a broken window screen pull tab.
A window screen pull tab made from white duct tape.
A window screen pull tab made from white duct tape.