How to Fix the Mesh on a Speaker

by Aubrey Kerr

    Torn speaker mesh isn't the end of your sound system. Don't get out the duct tape or a needle and thread if your cover fabric is torn. Speaker mesh is also called "grill fabric" and it's widely available online and in fabric stores. It's easier to replace the whole fabric cover than to apply patches, and your sound quality will be better with new fabric than with a patched-up cover. Vintage grill mesh fabrics are available online if you want to replace the mesh with something more decorative than basic black.

    What Not to Do

    No matter how tempting it might be to reach for the duct tape, do yourself a favor and buy a yard of speaker mesh. Applying tape or a fabric patch to torn mesh is unattractive and can interfere with sound quality. Even a good patch job can create buzzing or rattling that will be even more annoying than the big piece of duct tape across your sound system. Changing speaker mesh isn't complicated so just replace it instead of patching it.

    Get Out the Big Guns

    One of the simplest ways to replace your speaker mesh is to remove the old piece and glue a new piece to the frame. Regular glue isn't going to do the job, though. Use a hot glue gun or an industrial-strength glue like carpet adhesive. Before you start, remove the speaker cover from the drum unit. Look for small screws or staples holding the front frame to the main unit and unscrew or gently pry it free. Remove the old mesh. Cut a new piece of mesh 3 inches longer and wider than the frame. Then use a hot glue gun across each edge of the back, neatly wrapping the corners and pulling the new mesh tightly as you go along.

    Follow the Staple Pattern

    If you have a wooden speaker frame the original mesh was probably stapled into place, so you can just staple the new mesh on after you remove the old fabric. When you're replacing a stapled mesh follow the original staple pattern. Staples were usually put in at a 45-degree angle so they don't put extra stress on the fabric. When you're stretching the mesh don't pull too tightly or you could tear the fabric around the staple holes. You want the fabric taut but not torn.

    Spray it Down

    Spray carpet adhesive is heavy-duty enough that it can be used to attach new mesh to vintage speakers with large baffle boards. A baffle board is the front plate of a speaker, radio or amplifier that regulates the sound waves. Your speaker may or may not have a baffle board, but if yours does you can remove the old mesh, spray the board with a light coat of carpet adhesive, then stretch a new piece of mesh fabric over the front. It's difficult to get a tight stretch with this method, but it's the best option for vintage speakers with baffle boards. Place a piece of wood over the top and clamp it to the baffle board for a couple of hours until the glue is dry.

    About the Author

    Aubrey Kerr is a writer and photographer. With a B.A. in media arts and public relations, she has helped small business owners design and implement online marketing campaigns since 2004. Her work appears on several websites including Salon.com and the Houston Chronicle.

    Photo Credits

    • archideaphoto/iStock/Getty Images