How To

The best tips for privacy: How to screen in a porch

By Luke Carlino

Updated: July 1st, 2021

A little extra protection from the elements never hurts!

Learning how to screen in a porch is a perfect skill for those who want to make their outdoors a little more indoors. You can get a lot more use out of an existing porch by adding screens that protect you from the elements.

Your porch is already an extension of the internal living area, so why not increase the amount of time you spend outdoors by screening in your porch? There are many benefits to this, like keeping you protected from insects and blowing leaves to decrease the amount of cleaning you’ll have to do.

Read on for some helpful tips to give your porch a whole new appeal as a second family room in which you can entertain friends or spend a relaxing evening alone.

The materials you will need to screen in an existing covered porch include

  • Lumber needed for building screen panels
  • Screen fabric
  • Screws
  • Paint to finish the frames

How to screen in a porch

The first part of your installation assumes you have existing deck posts or walls to attach the screen frames to. If you don’t have one and need to build a roof over an open deck, we recommend professional construction to ensure the right process is followed to keep everyone in your home safe.

If you have a suitable cover on your porch already, all that is needed are frames to support the screens. The screen panel size and configuration will depend on your porch size and individual design taste. If you live in a high-wind region, opt for smaller screen panels which can be easier to repair if broken.

two carpenters cutting wood
Source: Shutterstock

Step 1: Cut the screen panel boards

Start by cutting a two-by-two to the sizing of your boards top and bottom rails for one panel. You can repeat this for as many other panels as needed. Drill four pilot holes through the two-by-twos, then switch to a driver bit to create two 1/2-inch screws into the face of the floor.

Step 2: Construct the frame

Make a rectangular screen panel frame with two boards at the top and bottom and two longer boards for the vertical sides. Use four metal braces to construct the frame, and for some additional structural support, include a horizontal centre rail if you like. Secure each rail in place with metal corner braces. 

Step 3: Add the screen material

Stretch your chosen screen material (more info below) across the face of the panel and down on the sides. Keep the screen tight and staple the sides. Cut off any excess with scissors.

Step 4: Bolt the panel to the frame

Drill two holes at the top of the frame so you can attach them to your patio, and do the same with the floor section. Then, insert some three 1/2-inch bolts through the four holes with washers and wing nuts. Should you need help with your patio first, you can book patio builders to install one for you!

The materials you can use for your screen

There are many options to form your actual screen; some of the most popular are as follows:

Fibreglass screen fabric

There are many benefits to this option, including the fact that it is available in many different colours and is easy to work with. You won’t have to worry about rust or corrosion, but people with a pet cat may wish to avoid it, as claws easily shred it. 

High visibility screen fabric 

Also made from fibreglass but with a fine weave and thin fibreglass, this option is perfect for optimum visibility and will seem nearly invisible from the inside of your porch.

Aluminium screen fabric 

This sturdy screen option is perfect for those who see strong winds; however, it is a little more difficult to install, and it creases easily. Try to avoid the uncoated versions of an aluminium screen, as they can corrode or rust in humid climates. 

Pet-resistant screen fabric

If your family includes a few furry members, then this options is best for you. A great pet screen features durable vinyl-coated polyester that can withstand scratches and tears. It is resilient and thicker than other options, however is also more difficult to see through. For these reasons, you may wish to only instal the pet-resistant screen enclosure on the areas a pet might scratch, like the door or lower screen panels, then use a higher visibility option on upper screen panels.

Solar screen fabric 

Made from synthetic fibres, this option will block or reduce the amount of sunlight, protecting those porches with furniture that might fade. It is also a great option if you need to reduce the heat on the porch.

Important considerations before screening your porch

Codes and other considerations

Before you do any work, it is important to consider any permits that may be required. Call your local building authority and make sure that your planned changes are free to go ahead without approval. Generally, this should be fine; however, those who are making structural changes, like adding a roof, will probably need a permit.

One final check applies to those who live in a residential development with binding restrictions that apply to the property’s exterior look. It may be that you are not able to screen in your porch or must follow a specific design to keep the exterior look of the building cohesive. This is also relevant for those who may have a homeowners’ association that maintain continuity of design over the property.

screened in porch during the fall
Source: Shutterstock

Frequently asked questions

Does a screened porch add value?

Yes! Any improvements to your porch can be a great way to add value to your home. It is, however, important to keep in mind that the screens are not typically included in appraised square footage of your home, but to a potential buyer, having these additions in place already will undoubtedly make a home more attractive and add value.

What is the best screen to use for a screened-in porch?

Fibreglass is the most common screen type used for porches as it is inexpensive while providing good visibility. It has minimal glare from sunlight and won’t crease, meaning it is easier to work with and harder to damage.

How much does it cost to screen-in a porch?

The costs for screening-in a porch can vary widely based on a number of factors. The key elements to determine cost include:

  • How big the area you are screening is
  • Which materials you opt to use
  • Will you DIY or pay for professional help
  • Do you need to add a roof, or is there an existing one?

If you’re just screening an existing porch for the installation, the total costs can mean a couple of dollars per square foot for materials. You can also purchase porch screen kits which will provide you with everything you need. Depending on where you’re from, these can once again vary in price based on the quality of materials they offer.

Some other popular material options include:

  • High visibility screen fabric 
  • Aluminium screen fabric 
  • Pet-resistant screen fabric
  • Solar screen fabric 

Final tips for a DIY screened-in porch

The DIY screened-in porch is extremely doable for those who have an existing covered porch and know some basic carpentry techniques.

If you attempt to do it by yourself, just keep in mind that sections can be cut down if you need them to fit a smaller area, but once cut, it can be hard to ensure they are adjusted to fit a larger area. Make sure you understand your porch dimensions and configuration before you get to work on sizing the individual sections.

If building your own screen panels seems like a task that is slightly above your skill level, or you simply do not have the time to get it done, consider some help! You can find a range of skilled taskers that know how to screen in a porch with aluminium frame system or any other materials. Have the job done by a pro, save time and enjoy peace of mind in knowing it has been done correctly.

If you have caught the DIY bug and successfully screened-in your porch, you make like to consider another project to add more privacy to your home. Read our article about privacy fence ideas and move onto your next project that helps to make your property a little more secure.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Luke Carlino

Luke Carlino is a freelance copywriter, social media manager and content creator based in Melbourne. He works for a range of clients across a plethora of industries and is also an accomplished musician with solo and band works online.

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