Replacing, Bear-Damaged, Outhouse Screen

A sow black bear & her tiny cub tore up the outhouse screen last fall.

Do bears crap in the woods??

Apparantly not! Last fall a very small sow black bear, and her very tiny cub, came through the yard while I was gone. Luckily the only thing she did was tip over my burn barrel and tear up the outhouse screen.

As spring started to show its muddy face, the flies started to show up. Replacing the screen became a top priority. Besides I just don’t feel safe from bears with holes in the screen!

My 12ga. W/ slugs lives in the outhouse, just in case!

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Tools and Materials:

Tools of the trade

Which Screen?

The best mosquito screen that I have found to work, is the screen used in tents. It has a tighter weave than the typical window screen, so it keeps the tiny young mosquitos out.

The down side to using tent screen is that it is thinner and softer so a horse-fly can bite a hole through it. On my cabin windows and vents i place a layer of tent screen on the inside and a layer of regular fiberglass window screen on the outside.

On my outhouse however, I figured sooner or later a bear would tear it up. (I was right!) I only used the tent screen on the outhouse because it is a lot cheaper to replace.

Where to buy tent screen?

I buy my mosquito screen from Alaska Tent & Tarp, in Fairbanks, AK. It is only $5 or $6/yard and is 5′ wide. Their phone number is 907-456-6328.

Let’s get started

The first thing to do is to remove the old screen. I decided it’d be less confusing to replaced one window at a time.

What’s a baton??

Batons (baton: a thin wooden strip) were used to hold the screen in place and seal around the edges.

You may have heard of board & baton siding, or the sailing term “baton down the hatches” which means sealing hatches & doors shut, by nailing strips of wood over them (you do this during storms to keep water out.)

Remove old batons

These batons were cut to fit tight against each other, so they must be removed in the opposite order from installation.

Pry up baton enough so that the nail head is exposed

Because I was reusing the batons, I had to be extremely careful removing them. Starting at one end, gently tap the pry-bar under the baton in line with the 1st nail.

We are only trying to lift up enough so that when we push the baton down flat, you’ll be able to hook onto the nail with the prybar. Once that nail is removed, move down to the next nail and repeat the previous steps.

Label the batons

Each baton was cut to fit, so to ease in re-installation label which one goes where. I write top, bottom, LT, or RT plus an UP arrow, on the back with a sharpie.

Labelled batons stacked out of the way

Cutting the Screen

Once all 4 batons are removed the old screen can be removed. Do not discard as it can be used as a template for the new screen.

Luckily the bear didn’t rip any pieces completely off so I had a template to use. I made the new piece 2″ bigger because we will need something to grab onto as we stretch the screen tight.

Adding 2″ to the new piece

To lay it out and cut the screen you’ll need a flat area. Unroll the new screen and lay the 2″ square on the edge. Lay you template on the edge of the square. (You’re using the square to lay out a 2″ border around the old piece.

Once the old piece is sitting 2″ from the edge, move the square to the opposite edge of the old piece. You will now cut along the opposite side of the square (2″ from the edge of the old piece.)

Due to lack of space, once the one edge is lined up, roll up the new & old screen to make more room.

Once the length is cut (old length + 4″) then you can line up the old piece 2″ in from the edge of the new screen. Again use the square, which is 2″ wide, to line up the piece.

Now you can move the square to the final side like we did before. Cut along the opposite edge of the square ( adding the 2″ to the new piece.)

To easily add 2″, line up the left edge of square w/ the old material, then cut along the right side of square.

As long as there is plenty of extra material, then it doesn’t have to be perfectly straight. We will be trimming all the excess off once the screen is pulled tight.

Installing the Screen

To re-install the screen you will be putting the batons back in reverse order from taking them out. The last baton removed, which on this particular window was the bottom baton, is the first intalled.

Line up screen leaving 2″ on the inside. You can seen where the batons go where it is unstained.

Bottoms Up

The batons are on the inside of the screen so drape the screen out the window leaving 2″ pulled in on the sill. Make sure it is lined up evenly then place the bottom baton in place.

Once the batton is in place put the center nail back in but don’t nail it down all the way. We want the screen held but still able to be stretched tight.

Top it off

The next baton will be the top piece. This is tricky by yourself (and with bad shoulders!) Because you need to pull the screen tight, before you put the 1st nail in the top.

Once the nail is in, the screen wont be able to stretch anymore. The tricky part: Find where it needs to go, then hold the baton a little farther down the material, squeeze the screen tight against the baton, push the baton up stretching the screen as tight as it’ll go, then nail the center nail down tight.

The top center and the bottom center are tight. Time for the side pieces and some stretching.

Now that the top and bottom are both tacked down with a nail in the center, it is time to put the side batons in place. This is where all of the slack is taken out.

No Slack Allowed

You have to stretch the screen with the baton, like we just did with the top, in order to make it tight. Again throw a nail in the center to hold it.

What we’re trying to accomplish is to have the center of the top, bottom, left, & right all evenly tight and straight.

Now working from the center out, you can grab that 2″ extra and pull as much slack out as possible. Start at one of the old nail holes, next to the center, and pull tight, then nail. Work your way out to the corner.

Working from the center out, Grab the slackand pull.
Pull against the center of the screen and down towards the corner
Once all the wrinkles are out, throw the next nail in, then move down one nail hole and repeat
Work back and forth pulling all of the slack towards the corner, nailing as you go.

You are now trying to pull all the slack out to each corner. In order to keep everything straight, alternate between both batons on that same corner so you are bringing the entire slack out from the middles to the corner.

Trim it up

Once all the slack is removed, and the batons are all nailed down, it is time to trim off the excess. Using a utility knife with a sharp blade, cut along the baton pulling the cut-off piece tight to help it cut better.

Carefully trim the screen with a utility knife

Warning: the screen is under tension so be careful when you’re trimming the extra off, so that you don’t knick the screen and put a hole in it.

Lookin Good!

Once all the excess is trimmed off, you are finished with that window. You will repeat the same process with the other two windows.

All trimmed up!

Front Window



Notice the tiny bear cub claw marks, bottom left next to the tape. It must have shimmied up the corner!
Finished and looking respectable again!

Wrap it up!

That’s about all there is too it. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me an email or leave a comment below. And please check us out & like us on facebook!

A perfect view restored:

The door view in the morning
Looking forward
Don’t forget to watch out for bears!!!

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