DIY Bug Screens


DIY Bug Screens

Summer's here. With temperatures rapidly rising, all the summer bugs are coming out to play. (I'm looking at you, evil mosquitoes.)

Having bug screens became high on our priority list, partly so we can have our doors open to catch the summer breeze without turning into bug food. 

The DIY route

I can't sew. But lucky for us, Amazon offers ready made mosquito screens that are close to the sizes we need for our 2011 Sprinter.

For sliding doors, it's 60" X 80".

For the rear doors, it's 72" X 80". This is a little too big for the doors, but covers it completely so you don't have to worry about over-stretching the material.

Amazon carries tons of brands in these two sizes, but I went with MAGZO. Their screens don't have those vertical stripes that I personally find annoying, and the material comes in a dark grey which matches Peb's color.

The screens have the soft side of velcro sewed on the borders, and the installation kit comes with the other velcro side, which has tape for mounting to the van. To install, simply cut the supplied velcro to the width and length of the screens, rip off the tape, position the screens carefully and press.

Alternatively, I also toyed with the idea of glueing magnets for a velcro-free mount, which I may still decide to do eventually. (Update: I did switch over to magnets and they are AWESOME!)

The sliding door screens fit relatively well as is, but the rear door ones required a little additional work.  Here's the finished product.

It's pretty nicely fitted around the rear door and allows the doors to close. To trim the screen, I first used strong magnets that we already had on hand to position the screen. Then I used blue painter's tape to mark off the excess.

Next, the cuts! I saved and reused the extra material to redo the edges to make it look nicer.

I don’t sew, so everything was glued back on with Fabri-Tac. I love this stuff. It’s pretty strong for a fabric glue and doesn’t seep through the material (much). I may eventually learn to use a sewing machine to actually sew the trim piece back on, but for now I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Then came the details. I wanted to be able to close the doors with the bug screen intact, so made cutouts for the metal swing piece to go through. It looks relatively decent after a trim, and can be affixed to the rear beam with magnets when the rear doors are open. It does make rapidly closing the doors during sudden downpours a lot harder.

Another little thing was to trim the bottom to fit the metal support beams so that the horizontal part of the bottom of the bug screen fits the width of the rear doors. Again, this is optional, but it looks a look nicer than having extra material bunched at the bottom. I also trimmed the bottom to fit so that the screen closed better. 

Then rinse and repeat and do the other side. Because the two halves are relatively symmetrical, I just used the trimmed side as a template to do the other side. It made the process go much faster!

Originally I just used the velcro that came with the screens to stick onto the frame of the van. But because the temperatures were rising so fast the adhesive barely held for a day, and I ended up adding strong N52 magnets to the top and sides of the bug screens. It makes a much cleaner install. I used about 17 N52 magnets up top to hold the screen in place, and around 15 N48 magnets for the sides. 

I basically glued the magnets in place with FabriTac.

Here it is in all it's glory!

Version 1 - without trimming the bottom:

The magnetic seam in our DIY screen lets us get in and out easily while keeping bugs out! The long "tail" at the bottom sometimes prevented the screens from closing properly, so we ended up trimming it...

The magnetic seam in our DIY screen lets us get in and out easily while keeping bugs out! The long "tail" at the bottom sometimes prevented the screens from closing properly, so we ended up trimming it...

Version 2 - after the trim:

Perfect fit!

Perfect fit!

The whole process took about a day and you definitely need patience. Total cost for the bug screen and materials is about $50. 

If you don't want to do it yourself, there is option 2...

Option 2: Buy Fitted Screens

There are a few sellers out there that make custom bug screens tailored to the van. Ripplewear on Ebay, who specializes in Sprinter sun shades also offers bug screens for the sliding doors and rear doors. I've never bought from the store so I can't personally attest to quality, but lots of people like them. (We're not affiliated in any way.) 

We thought the pre-made Sprinter screens look great but are kind of pricey at around ~$275 per set. Since we have two sliding doors plus the rear doors, we'd need three sets. So after debating (" we really want to spend over $800 on bug screens?"), we went the DIY route and spent about $50 per set. 

Hope this post helps with your summer bug troubles! Until next time.


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