Converting a Porch Into a Screened-in Porch
Your porch is an extension of your home. In some areas, having your porch screened in offers a much-needed reprieve from the natural elements in your area. If you’re thinking of transforming your porch into a screened-in porch, here are some things to keep in mind.
Along with any other type of home improvement project, creating a screened-in porch may change the value of the home in the eyes of the local building division. Make sure you run design plans by them and obtain any permits and inspections required by the county.
Your existing deck or porch is the foundation for your screened-in porch, so make sure it is in good condition before building up. If your wood decking needs some love, now is the time to do it. Sand if necessary, replace any rotting or cracked boards, improve foundation support, and give it a fresh coat of stain. It will be a lot easier at this phase than later on in the project. Similarly, if your concrete patio needs crack repair or a sealer added, make that the first step in the process.
If your deck already has a roof than you probably have some sort of beams or partial walls to work with when enclosing the space. However, if you don’t have a pergola or roof, you will need to build one, beginning with the supports. Typically, corner posts set well into concrete or mounted to the deck at all four corners are enough to support the weight of a basic roof. For more intricate designs, such as a peaked trellis roof, you will want to consult with a structural engineer or professional contractor to make sure you’re providing the proper structural support. Also include at least one door in the wall design. Since you will otherwise be enclosing the porch, the door will allow you access to the yard.
In conjunction with your blueprint for the walls, you’ll need a roof to enclose the space. This is also what protects you from the beating sun and the pouring rain. Consider the slope of the roof if your area receives significant snow or rainfall. Also think about adding gutter systems to divert the water off of the roof and into the drainage system without gushing over the sides of your porch. Decide whether to match the roofing material of the main house or cover the porch in a different material.
Many screened porches provide air flow from top to bottom, but other porches are framed half-way up with siding and the screened portion fills the top half. This is a matter of personal preference. When deciding on your screening material, think about whether you want it to be a permanent addition or if you want the panels to be removable. For permanent screening, you can buy screening material in rolls. Pull it tight across each section and staple the material to posts and framing materials. You can cover the edges with decorative trim if you don’t want the cut ends of the screen to show. Alternately, you can mount frames and attach the screening to the frames with spline material. For removable panels, carefully measure each opening. Build a frame to fit snugly in each one and stretch the screening material across each frame. Mount using spline and a spline rolling tool. You can make the frame out of thin wood or use the plastic or metal screen kits available at the home improvement stores.