Though insect screens (aka mosquito net, window mesh, flyscreen) are not yet very common in Singapore, it is considered a necessity for most homes elsewhere in the world, so it’s really quite strange why this is not yet the case in Singapore.
Insect screens are useful not only to keep mosquitoes out. In fact many families install the screens (aka mesh) to keep out lizards, cockroaches and other creepy crawlies too. It is certain a good solution to allow you to keep your windows opened for good air circulation while blocking these uninvited guests out!
With the increasing occurrence of dengue fever over the years, and now everyone staying at home due to Covid-19 and even “midge infestations” (usually near reservoirs) and the mystery insects at Pandan Gardens and Bukit Batok – who knows – maybe HDB & NEA will do something soon.
Meanwhile, if you’re thinking about insect screens, here is our compilation of the Top 5 things to consider when you decide to install this “invisible shield” at home.
- Why Insect Screens?
- Types of Insect Screens available
- To DIY or Not-to-DIY?
- Cost & Service Quality
- How to Choose a Provider?
Why Insect Screens?
Yes, insect screens keep out insects – that’s their main function (and why they’re known as insect screens, also flyscreen, mosquito net. Insect net, window mesh). When installed over your existing windows, they work silently to keep out mosquito, flies, bee, flying cockroach, lizard and all sorts of creepy crawlies. Even birds (mynah) and bats!
Most mesh up to block dengue causing Aedes mosquito, but many also mesh up because they dislike these “uninvited guests” – especially lizard & flying cockroach and even birds (mynah) and bats. (now that HDB is installing solar panels on rooftops, we’re seeing more and more requests to block out bats).
If you have pets (especially cat) in high rise flat and condo, meshing up your windows will prevent accidental falling. In fact SPCA, Cat Welfare Society and fosterers most often require their adopters to mesh up their homes first.
Types of Insect Screens Available
Insect screens are made of many type of materials. The most common these days is fibre glass mesh. These are tough, durable and when “invisible black” is chosen – cannot be seen when you’re more than 2m away. Choose the optimally sized ones that’ll allow good airflow while keeping the pests out. Just remember that “smaller holes” is not necessarily better, because these may block the creepy crawlies out, and also the wind!
Increasingly, home owners are opting for magnetic insect screens too. They install directly onto the existing window frame (or window grilles) and because of the design, the existing windows can be easily open / close by simply lifting up the mesh.
Maintenance is easy also – just wipe with a piece of wet cloth (microfiber cloth preferred) and the dust can be removed. A vacuum cleaner will do the job too. And if needed, the whole mesh frame can be removed for washing before placing it back. And they last for years.
Other types of insect screens available include roller screens, retractable screens and screens custom built using track/rails etc. These are usually much more expensive than the magnetic ones and not so common – and sometimes do not work if you’ve already installed blinds.
Some insect screens claim to be able to block out UV light, do check these out carefully because – if the mesh allow light through, how it can block out UV light becomes a mystery ⁉
To DIY or Not-to-DIY… that is the question.
When you do a search on Google, you will find many DIY options for insect screens at low cost. The lowest cost ones are made of nylon and uses Velcro to hold the mesh onto the windows. There are also magnetic ones that costs a little more and come in standard sizes (and a 1-page instruction).
If you intend the insect screen as a long term solution, it is usually best to avoid the Velcro ones. These are hard to remove, cleaned and replaced back. If you really prefer to DIY, magnetic ones are much better, though they costs slightly more.
Just like painting a house, DIY works well when there are only a few simple windows to mesh up. And also if you (or someone at home) is handy and willing to spend time. Will it work, yes of course!
For others who have additional requirements (eg. more rooms, areas) – it’s often better to leave the installation to professionals (just like painting the entire house). Professional installation will cost more, but you can be assured that installers are well skilled and equipped to install the insect screens professionally (if you choose carefully).
Maybe this is not very clear so I’ll provide one example here.
“Protruding Handle” of a casement window. This is a common design for houses (HDB, condo and landed houses) here. Many DIY customers have failed at installing this because they fail to account for the protrusion during set up, resulting in mesh that had to be thrown away. This is only one example, there are many others 😊
Why? Because the seller of the DIY set is focused only on selling the DIY sets, and not so much concerned about what type of windows it is going to be eventually installed on. With professional installation, this is easily overcome because the focus is on “providing the solution” and not just “selling the product”!
With DIY, you pay for materials, for “with installation” service, you pay for an outcome!
Cost and Service Quality
Cost is always part of the decision making process. If you have only simple requirements (and only a few windows) – DIY is a great option, go for it! Not only do you save money, you have the satisfaction of building something for your own house. If you feel confident, we recommend this approach.
But when you choose the DIY route, you should also have realistic expectations about customer service. Many DIY sellers sell by large volumes, so their ability to respond to your queries and questions is very limited. Some will answer via Shopee, Lazada or Qoo10 forum but do not expect them to take your phone calls and provide answers when you need help.
If this is the case, when should I choose professional “with installation” service?
Answer: if you have more windows to mesh up or has more specific, complex requirements (eg. Block out flying cockroach, lizards). The installation company should be able to consider your requirements and advise where to mount the mesh, how to mount the mesh and other details. You will pay a little more so you get a total solution.
Price is what you pay, value is what you get.
How to Choose a Provider
There are many providers out there, whether it is DIY (via Shopee, Lazada, Qoo10, Carousell) or professional “with installation” service.
Some have been around for more than 20 years and even have celebrity endorsement. Some tout superior materials and products made in English speaking countries. These may be enticing at first but remember to look beyond this: Your choice should be the provider must suitable for your needs (responsive to you, able to provide solution you need at the right price and service level).
With social media and Google search, there’s also much greater transparency now. Not only do these providers have websites, they usually have social media presence too.
This is a good place to find useful information (photos, videos etc) and also to read feedback & reviews from their customers. For reviews, choose a provider who has consistently high customer satisfaction over a long period of time. This will help you weed out those providers who write their own reviews (this is unethical but it happens).
About Group Buys
We have recently seen some vendors advertising that they welcome Group Buy. Group Buy is obviously interesting for home owners to get a better price when they purchase together. So this is useful for curtains, blinds, ziptracks and maybe even certain electrical and home products where there’s a list price and a discount can be applied.
But for customized work, eg. kitchen cabinets, general renovations – it is hard to do group-buys. Because how will you know that you have an actual discount? Magnetic Insect Screens tend to fall into this category because different houses (even within the same estate, block!) has different dimensions. Some are grilled, some are not. And home owners may choose only to mesh up some and not all. So for cases like this – it may be better to select a vendor that uses the “Everyday Low Price” approach!
We hope you find this article useful, enjoy the process – and do feel free to share!
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