How to Clean Paint Off Screens

Written by tia paitsel
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How to Clean Paint Off Screens
Use care when removing paint from your window or door screens. (Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Occasionally, even when we try to follow the most meticulous preparation processes, splattered paint finds its way onto unintended surfaces. It is fairly easy to scrape paint from hard, nonporous surfaces, such as glass. Cleaning paint from mesh screens on windows and doors, on the other hand, involves more patience and effort if you want to salvage the screen rather than replace it.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Gloves
  • Rags
  • Bucket
  • Tarp or plastic to cover workspace
  • Steel wool, medium grade 1 or 2 (only for metal screens)
  • Water
  • Mild detergent
  • Solvent for latex-based paint:
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Solvent for enamel or oil-based paint (not recommended for use on fibreglass screens):
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Odourless turpentine
  • White spirit

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Instructions

    Determine the Screen Material

  1. 1

    Determine if your screen is fibreglass or metal mesh before attempting to clean the paint from it. Care must be taken when cleaning fibreglass screens because they rip if too much pressure is applied when scrubbing. This type of screen is usually dark grey or black and has a soft, plastic-like feel. If you have a metal screen, it is most likely aluminium. Aluminium screens are fairly stiff and durable. If you have an older home, the screen may be a copper-bronze screen; the cleaning methods in this article may discolour copper-bronze screens and are not recommended.

  2. 2

    Prepare your work surface by laying out the tarp or plastic on a work table or the floor in a well-ventilated area. Ideally, this should be done outdoors. Place the materials and tools you have gathered on your work surface.

  3. 3

    Remove the screen from the window or door frame and lay it on your work surface. If you have a fibreglass screen, proceed to the "Fiberglass Screens" section. If you have an aluminium or metal mesh screen, proceed to "Aluminum Screens."

    Fibreglass Screens

  1. 1

    Place gloves on your hands for protection from chemicals.

  2. 2

    Place a small amount of denatured alcohol on a clean rag.

  3. 3

    Rub the alcohol-dampened rag on the paint spill, using firm pressure and circular movements. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 until the paint is dissolved.

  4. 4

    Wash the screen with a mild soapy solution and rinse it with water.

  5. 5

    Allow the screen to dry thoroughly before returning it to the door or window.

    Aluminium Screens

  1. 1

    Place gloves on your hands for protection from chemicals.

  2. 2

    Apply a small amount of paint thinner or lacquer thinner to a rag and wipe it onto the paint.

  3. 3

    Scour the paint stain with a steel wool pad in a concentric circular motion. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 until the paint is dissolved.

  4. 4

    Wipe off any excess thinner with a rag.

  5. 5

    Wash the screen with a mild soapy solution and rinse it with water.

  6. 6

    Allow the screen to dry thoroughly before replacing it.

Tips and warnings

  • Denatured alcohol can be used on metal screens if the paint is latex-based.
  • Denatured alcohol will not remove oil-based or enamel paint.
  • Never use these chemicals without adequate ventilation.
  • Follow local and state laws for disposal of chemicals.
  • Chemicals used in this process are highly flammable.
  • Rags used with thinners are flammable and can spontaneously combust. Never bunch rags together or leave them unattended. Used rags should be stored in a metal container filled with water.

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