How to Paint on a Window Screen

It’s fun to think outside the box and look at things in a different light, especially when you can find a new use for something considered useless. One of the junk items I tend to collect are old screen from barns, sheds, and the like. Today, I am going to show you how to paint on a window screen and turn it into whimsical decor.

How to Paint on a Window Screen | Prodigal Pieces |

In my fleatiquing adventures, I often find this style of window screen that once was used in a barn or some other primitive structure.

Reclaimed Barn Window Screen | Prodigal Pieces |

It can expand to twice its size and is a total blank slate for a new purpose. In the past, I’ve used screens to create wall art for my shop, like this “JOY” sign.

Antique Window Screen Holiday Wall Art | Prodigal Pieces |

When I found the screen for this project at a flea market back in early summer, I snatched it up knowing it had potential. I knew I wanted to create a sign with it and I decided to do it in the likeness of my repurposed Vera Bradley sign paired with an antique rocker.

 Repurposed Vera Bradly Sign & Antique Rocker | Prodigal Pieces

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces

*this post contains affiliate links so you can find the products I love to use too! (see full disclosure)

Want to give it a try? Just grab any old screen or make a new one to look old, you can even do your house screens and doors. Check out this video on how painted screens are used in daily life…so cool!

Ready? Let’s get started!

First, measure the inside dimensions of your screen from edge to edge. Once you have those parameters, head to my DIY sign tutorial. You are going to create the sign graphic you will be using in Photoshop or Microsoft Word (or whatever program you would normally use to create a graphic). Have fun with it…use it to display your favorite quote, or scenery, an animal, or even in the likeness of an old sign like I am doing. (You could also use a Silhouette to create a stencil and do the same thing – I’ve hear those things rock!)

Once you have your sign graphic created and printed out, place it on the back side of the screen you are going to paint and tape to secure.

Preparing Graphic for Painting on Window Screen | Prodigal Pieces |

Flip your screen over and this is what you will see.

Printed Graphic Layout on Window Screen | Prodigal Pieces |

You will need two basic acrylic paints: a white and a black, along with an artist’s brush. My favorite brush is a round #5

DecoArt Black & White Acrylic Paint | Prodigal Pieces |

The next step is to paint over the words with the white paint. This part was fun and stress-free because it’s hard to mess up the lettering. Just make sure you are not clogging those screen holes – either blow through the screen if it clogs or use a toothpick to poke the clog clear. Lightly dip your brush in and apply. Less is more in this instance.

Painting on a Window Screen | Prodigal Pieces |

I went over my letters two times with a white and then decided it looked too flat, so I added some shadowing using my black paint once the white is dry.

Adding Shadows to Window Screen Text | Prodigal Pieces |

See how it makes the letters pop out? Fun!

I’m loving the rustic, primitive feel of it, and can’t wait to snatch up more screens while I’m out fleatiquing.

Vintage Sign Painted Window Screen | Prodigal Pieces |

Nothing like adding unique decor to your home…you won’t find this in a department store. woot woot! If you’re not into DIY or just plain love my sign, you can find it available in my shop. (SOLD, but I have others!)

Antiques Bought & Sold Window Screen Sign | Prodigal Pieces |

I hope you’ve enjoyed this simple project on how to paint a window screen. I would love it if you would pin and share to inspire others to look at cast-offs in a different light. ♥

How to Paint on a Window Screen | Prodigal Pieces |

Next up is Trash to Treasure Tuesday (say that five times fast!) I will be showing you what I make with these…hee hee hee. Head HERE TO SEE.

Broken Antique Rocking Chair Rockers Repurposed | Prodigal Pieces |
To get these DIY tips & tricks in your inbox, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. PLUS, you will get your FREE Furniture Buying Checklist and special discount to my shop.

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Until next time!

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More repurposed DIY’s like painted window screen:

Build a Bathtub Tray Using Reclaimed or New Wood by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.comIndoor / Outdoor DIY Faux Fireplace | Prodigal Pieces |

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  • Debrashoppeno5

    The sign looks very good. Unique pieces are so much fun to have as decor in you house. It adds such character.

    January 6, 2016 at 7:54 am Reply
    • Larissa

      It does. I am not a person who decorates from the store. I either make it or refashion it if I can because it’s fun and it’s mine.

      January 6, 2016 at 10:43 am Reply
      • Lindsay

        Would you have a recommendation for a paint that I could paint a screen with that will end up being an outside decoration?

        May 8, 2016 at 11:01 pm Reply
        • Larissa

          I would use an oil based paint. It will take longer to dry, but it will hold better. Hope that helps!

          May 10, 2016 at 9:08 am Reply
  • Lois

    Painting screens was a very popular thing to do early in the 20th century in Baltimore! People would paint landscapes on their screen doors and try to out do their neighbors. Here is a link– It is amazing what folks can do!

    January 6, 2016 at 9:03 am Reply
    • Larissa

      That is amazing!! Thank you for sharing, Lois.

      January 6, 2016 at 10:42 am Reply
  • Marie from The Interior Frugalista

    Painting on a screen – cool. My mind is going to all kinds of ideas for doing this, like dressing up those simple wooden screen doors used during the summer. I’m sure your gorgeous window screen will not last long in your Etsy Shop Larissa!

    January 6, 2016 at 10:17 am Reply
    • Larissa

      My thinking exactly. Did you see the other comment with the link? Cool!!

      January 6, 2016 at 10:41 am Reply
  • Mary-the boondocks blog

    It looks pretty amazing. I like the technique you used! It is simple yet effective!!

    January 6, 2016 at 11:56 am Reply
    • Larissa

      It is simple, almost crazy how simple, Mary. I think I have found a new addiction. 🙂

      January 9, 2016 at 5:37 am Reply
  • Kathy Nielsen

    Larissa, My gosh, you are so talented. I would never of thought of doing that to a screen.

    January 6, 2016 at 1:07 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you for the love, Kathy. 🙂 It is fun to create, especially to re-create on old things.

      January 9, 2016 at 5:37 am Reply
  • Amy @ StowandTellU

    Never thought of painting an old screen. This is to darn cool and creative. Love the vintage lettering you choose, too!

    January 8, 2016 at 11:15 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you so much, Amy. It was so fun to do and is quite addicting! 🙂

      January 9, 2016 at 5:38 am Reply
  • Jane

    You are talented…love this! I have lots of old seed trays, but I think the holes maybe to big for the word to show up. Any ideas?

    January 9, 2016 at 10:03 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, girl! My first thought is to embroider it like I did my rocking chair. Let me know what you think!

      January 10, 2016 at 8:21 am Reply
      • Jane

        never thought of that…love the rocking chair!

        January 11, 2016 at 2:13 pm Reply
        • Larissa

          It would be fun and therapeutic. Have fun!

          January 11, 2016 at 5:40 pm Reply
  • Patty Soriano

    Hi Larissa, I came over from Donna’s website to see you. Are we not allowed to use your pictures for Pinterest ? Would love to save some of these cute ideas, but the PIN button won’t come up. Just wondering. I’d appreciate knowing so I can write them down in my idea book. Have sent in a subscription so I can see what else you come up with this year. Looks like fun!

    January 9, 2016 at 7:27 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      You most certainly may, though I don’t use a button. You can either use the sharing buttons at the bottom of the post or the pin tool in a google toolbar. So glad to have you along for the ride!

      January 10, 2016 at 7:46 am Reply
      • Patty Soriano

        Thank you ! I have a screen door I’d like to do this with and your directions make it look pretty easy!

        January 10, 2016 at 10:41 am Reply
  • Chris


    The screen turned out amazing! I can’t wait to see your next project.


    January 10, 2016 at 8:08 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Happy to hear it! I’m always working on something. Thanks!

      January 11, 2016 at 5:39 pm Reply
  • Holly

    Looks great Larissa!!!!

    January 16, 2016 at 12:29 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you so much, Holly!

      January 18, 2016 at 5:42 am Reply
  • Kathy Tyrrell

    I just painted on a screen using a stencil and I used Buttermilk (after using black first, which did not show up at all) but, the buttermilk does not show up that well, either. I even put a piece of muslin behind it hoping that would work, but to no avail.

    Any tips for me ?

    Thank you !

    June 15, 2016 at 6:38 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Hmm…was it a window screen? Send me and email and I’ll try to help. [email protected] Thanks!

      June 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm Reply
      • Kathy Tyrrell

        Yes, it is a window screen. I purchased some black broadcloth that I can cut to fit on the back, and believe this will help a lot.

        Thank you.

        June 16, 2016 at 4:45 pm Reply
  • Diane Howard

    Hi, love the painted screen. I’ve been looking everywhere for instructions on how to do this. I have a question. Is the screen still fleaxable after painting? The reason I ask, i have a retractable screen door that is so clear I need to do something to make it more visible. Stenciling the screen was an idea I thought of, but it still has to be extremely flexible to retract back in the holder. Do you think this could work for me? Thanks for any suggestions.

    November 6, 2016 at 9:23 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Hmm…good question. I’m thinking it would possibly flake off if it is rolled up (I’m assuming), and then again it may not. Part of me says, “You don’t know until you try”. 😉 Sorry, I’m sure that didn’t help. If it were me I’d have a go at a small portion of it because you could always clean it off with rubbing alcohol.

      November 7, 2016 at 5:35 am Reply
  • Terry

    I, too have a retractable screen door that is very transparent. I want to paint on both sides to make it more visible. I tried it on a regular patio screen, but even though I painted both sides, it can only be viewed from one side. The other side just looks spotty. What can I do and how do I do it.?

    April 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Hmm…good question. It probably has to do with the fact that the interior side is backlit by the outside. Hope that makes sense. So the outside version would be the only one showing. Not sure without being there though.

      April 21, 2017 at 9:21 pm Reply
  • Chris

    How about just painting a screen solid white so you can brighten up the front of the house?…what type of paint would you use?

    February 23, 2018 at 10:37 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Sure! If it gets weather, use an outdoor paint, if not, then an acrylic will do.

      February 24, 2018 at 2:40 pm Reply

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