Your Guide to Planning the Perfect Screened-In Porch
A sunroom with a breeze; a patio sheltered from the elements. Whatever your idea of a screened-in porch is, here’s your guide to creating the bonus room of your dreams.
Step 1 — Ask Yourself How Often You’ll Use It
Summer only? Then your biggest issue will be dealing with heat. Planting trees nearby to provide shade or installing a ceiling fan to create airflow are both good options to keep the space cool.
Anytime it’s nice outside? Consider insulating the room during cooler months with retractable curtains on the outside of your screens.
Year-round? You might want to add easy-install vinyl or acrylic sheets to make the room fully enclosed come winter. A fireplace is also a great idea for warmth and ambiance.
Step 2 — Pick Your Floor
Setting a sturdy foundation is vital. Here are the four top flooring materials favored by designers, starting with the lowest priced option.
- Concrete $ — The most affordable option, concrete provides an edgy look and can easily be poured yourself. However, keep in mind that it is prone to cracking. That said, imperfections can be hidden with an indoor/outdoor rug.
- Tile $$ — Middle of the road price-wise, tile is a great way to inject color and pattern, and is easy to clean. Just know that tile can get more slippery than the other flooring materials when wet.
- Brick $$ — Similarly priced to tile, brick floors are more stain- and slip-resistant than concrete, and are often the result of turning pre-existing patios into screened-in porches.
- Wood $$$ — While ipe wood is considered by experts to be the best element-resistant decking option, those worried about termites can go with redwood or yellow cedar. Composites are also a great alternative for the budget conscious.
Step 3 — Choose a Screen
You don’t have to settle for plain mesh. Pick a screen that suits your needs and your lifestyle. Here are a few of the best options available:
- Ready-Made Fiberglass — Economically priced and relatively simple to install, these provide good visibility and plenty of airflow. Unfortunately, they can let in some pollen and unwanted critters.
- Flexible & Cut-to-Size — If your openings are custom-sized then this is worth the splurge. They’ll ensure the frames don’t stretch, bend or break.
- Pollen Resistant — If you’re prone to allergies, tightly woven screens that trap particles are a great option. Although there is less airflow, that doesn’t mean there is less of a breeze.
- UV Filter — If your space gets a lot of direct sun, consider a screen with cooling properties or built-in solar protection. Just know that these can decrease visibility.
Step 4 — Counter the Elements
If you plan on using your porch when conditions are less than ideal, it’s best to install features that allow you to control the climate and improve air quality.
- Outdoor Ceiling Fan — A must-have during hotter weather, a ceiling fan will keep you cool when a breeze just isn’t hacking it, but also chases away any flying insects. Use in tandem with an air purifier to help with pollen and pollution control.
- Split Unit — A more affordable option than fully ducted air conditioning units, mini-splits can pull double-duty — cool your space during warmer months and provide heat during cooler months.
- Fireplace or Stove — While fireplaces look amazing, there may be extra building codes involved to add a chimney. For less hassle, consider a wood-burning stove or a portable infrared patio heater.
- Bug-Proof Lighting — Incandescents tend to attract the most bugs, so stick with LEDs in warm color temperatures. In general, pendants, wall sconces and ceiling lights make the best lighting choices for an outdoor space. Not only are outdoor pendants and wall sconces made to withstand harsh weather conditions, they also offer hints of style and elegance. For larger covered spaces, multiple ceiling lights create a great look when spaced about 8 feet apart.
Step 5 — Find Furniture
Since the only barrier standing between your porch and the elements is a screen, outdoor patio furniture with indoor/outdoor fabrics is the best bet. Also, consider your climate when choosing furniture materials. For instance, strong winds will blow lightweight furniture all around, while hot, dry temperatures can crack and splinter wood. In addition, it’s good to remember that while wicker doesn’t do well when constantly exposed to moisture, there are other alternatives, like resin wicker, that mimic rattan but resists high winds, dry heat and humidity.