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How to Design a Screened-in Porch

Whether you're transforming an existing porch or adding a new one, you'll be very glad you chose to screen it in. A screened porch provides a sanctuary that lets you enjoy the outdoors without reaching for the sunscreen or insect repellent. An extra secure play-space for children, a place for the baby's summer naps, or a great spot to relax and read----even on a rainy day, your screen porch has a lot to offer. Follow the steps below to design a screened-in porch you'll use in many ways.

Things You'll Need

  • Inspection and building permits, if required
  • Paper and pencil
  • Measuring tape or yardstick
  • Professional advice, if needed
  • Time to observe your surroundings and time to think
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  1. Screening in an existing porch

    • 1

      Determine whether your community requires you to have an inspection and obtain a building permit to screen in an existing porch. Even if you don't have to have a building permit, you may wish to have an inspection to be certain that the present structure can tolerate the extra weight it will bear. Screens are lightweight, but adding a roof and support beams may stress the existing porch in ways you need to address first.

    • 2

      Let primary uses determine your design. A quiet place to relax and read can be very simple, though you may wish to plan lighting for the evening. A party porch may dictate special floor-resurfacing, built-in cabinets, and custom canvas shades to shield guests from bright sun or sudden showers. To protect both children and screens, you may wish to add lattice-work or other fencing inside the screens on a playroom porch.

    • 3

      Plan for convenience and the future. Removable, framed screen panels, attached to posts with screws, cost more to install than sheet-screening tacked directly to posts. They prove their value, however, when you need to clean them or repair rips and tears. Establishing a sound framework for removeable panels also lays a possible foundation for later, full weatherizing of your porch.

    Designing a new screened-in porch

    • 4

      Expect to obtain a building permit and professional inspection. In some communities, a screened porch is just a porch. In others, it is classified as an expansion of residential square footage and treated like all new construction. You may encounter foundation requirements and will want to determine how adding a screened porch can affect your house value and its taxes. All of these concerns will have effects on your design.

    • 5

      Consider both climate and landscaping when choosing a location and a design for your porch. You may wish to use your porch as a sun-catcher or a constant shade spot. Decide whether your porch is a self-contained island or needs a door to the yard as well as one to the house. Add household-traffic considerations to your design (in one unfortunate house, the new porch was a great success until little feet began producing a constant dirty path on the equally new wall-to-wall dining-room carpet!).

    • 6

      Plan for foul weather as well as fair. A slight slope to your floor along with strategically placed run-off slots allow rain and snow-melt to dissipate quickly. Elevating the floor will lessen water damage. Add your porch roof to your current gutter-and-leaders scheme. In areas with frequent high winds, you may wish to streamline screen-panel removal and include panel storage as part of your design. Planning for weather helps make your design-work last longer.

    • 7

      Record your design ideas, in sketches or in notes, on paper. Your design does not have to be of professional quality, but it will be very useful in communicating with the professionals who will be doing the work. Measure where you can and sketch out what you would like---the planning, sketches and notes all contribute to your screened-in porch design.