How To Screen Porch
When you see me write how to screen porch, you may wonder if my building skills are as poor as my grammar! Rest assured that I know it should be how to screen a porch, but I’m just responding to the habits of all those who have become addicted to instant gratification on the Internet. People are in such a hurry they just don’t have time to type in an extra letter and a space. It’s crazy but true.
I’ve built my fair share of screened porches over the years. They are really fun projects because they go from start to finish so quickly. Once the rough frame is up and the roof is done, you can have a finished structure in just days. This assumes you had a local mill construct the screen panels for you in advance. Even if you decide to go to all the trouble to make the panels, the time frame is short.
If you are in a rush to get your screened porch built, you may have typed how to screened porch to discover this column. No worries as in just a few short minutes I’ll share some very important tips with you. What you really were searching for was how to screen in a porch. I understand, as I’ve worked for many an impatient homeowner.
There are any number of ways to build a screened-in porch. The classic look is to use wood for the structure and the screened panels. Many camp houses by lakes have these. You’ll see them all over New England at lake houses or camps. But go south and you’ll quickly discover screened porches made entirely from aluminum. Down South the heat, humidity and insects destroy wood like The Who shattered their guitars, amps and drums. Aluminum is simply the better material to use when your faced with wood rot.
As you start to plan your screened porch, the first thing you should to do is make a visit to the zoning and planning office in your town or city. There often are zoning regulations that control the size and how close these structures can be to your property lines. So as not to waste lots of money on plans, make sure you can build the porch onto your home with no or minimal hassle from your government officials.
You may have to get a variance in certain cases to construct the porch. A variance is permission to build when your porch plans don’t meet the letter of the law. Many zoning laws are written that in order to get a variance, you have to prove a hardship in being able to comply with the zoning laws. Simply demonstrate to the officials what your hardship is. You better have a good reason. I know as I used to sit on my village’s Planning and Zoning Board for eight years and attended many a zoning hearing.
To build a screened porch, you’ll have to have moderate carpentry skills and roofing talents. Depending on how many creature comforts you want, you may need electrical skills as you might want lights, a paddle fan and electrical outlets on the porch. Electrical wiring on a screened porch is problematic as you can’t hide the cables in wall studs like an ordinary wall. Seasoned electricians and carpenters know how to bury conduit behind trim lumber on wood screened porches. Aluminum porches can be extremely challenging when it comes to electrical outlets on each wall of the porch.
If you typed how to build screen porch, I knew you weren’t one of those old Hollywood actors playing the part of a native American. What you really wanted to know was how to build a screen porch. Understand that one of the first decisions you have to make is what will the floor of the porch be? Will you have a concrete slab, or will you build your screened porch on top of a wood deck? It can be done successfully on both surfaces.
Keep in mind that you’ll always have to deal with water. As much as you try to prevent it, driving rain will one day make its way into the porch. You need to plan for how this water will make its way naturally back outdoors, without you having to mop it up or use a wet-dry vacuum. Drainage slots need to be engineered into the bottoms of the screen panels, and the floor of the porch needs to always slope ever so slightly to the exterior walls. You surely don’t want water ponding on the floor of the porch.
Remember that a screened porch is not any different than a regular room addition. This means if you live in an area that experiences cold weather, there must be a proper foundation under each of the bearing posts of the porch, and these must be set below the frost level in your area.
Concrete piers used as frost footing must be wider at the bottom than at the top of the pier. Typically, the opposite happens as you dig. Post holes tend to be narrower at the bottom than the top looking like an ice-cream cone. This is a huge mistake because as the frost penetrates down into the soil, it actually pushes the cone-shaped concrete out of the ground. Always make the bottom of the pier hole larger than the top by at least 4 to 6 inches.
Be sure to use high-quality treated lumber as the framing for the porch at least up to the beams that support the roof. You don’t want the posts to ever rot causing the porch to tumble down.