Building a screened in porch can be the perfect way to enjoy your backyard year-round.
A screened-in porch is an excellent addition for patio furniture, grilling, and lounging. It will provide you with great protection from the sun during the summer months and keep you warm on cooler winter days. If security is what you are looking, then be sure to check out our guide to the best inexpensive ways to cover a chain link fence for privacy and safety!
In this article, I will walk you through the steps of how to build a screened in porch. Let's dive deep into this topic.
Lay out the flooring
The first step is to lay out the flooring for your porch. You can choose any flooring that you like, but I recommend using hardwood or cedar (in some areas these are cheap and readily available) as they are very durable and attractive materials.
If you live in an area where wood is more affordable than other materials, that could be the right choice for you – here’s all the information you need if you’re interested in the difference between hardwood vs laminate when it comes to your flooring.
Lay out your flooring to ensure you have enough to complete the project.
Mark fencing locations
Once your flooring is installed, mark where the fence posts will go. I would recommend placing at least one post every ten feet around the entire perimeter of your porch. I also like to space out my posts approximately five feet apart. This ensures that the fence will be able to handle larger pets (or small children) without falling over.
Install your posts
Once your fencing locations are marked, dig holes for each of the posts you have marked. For best results, you should have about five inches of depth in the hole (if it's any shallower, it may not hold as well). You'll want to make sure and use a post driver to get those posts down far enough – this can usually be rented from your local home improvement store.
Connect fence boards to posts
The next step is for you to connect the fence boards with galvanized steel connectors. This fence will stay attached permanently throughout its lifetime, so do it right the first time. For best results, you should have at least one of these connectors every five feet around the entire perimeter of your porch.
Go ahead and nail each board into place with galvanized nails or screws – this simply keeps them connected permanently to the posts. For added protection, I also like to put a wood block on top of the post beneath all my fence boards (this will keep them from moving during wet periods).
Reinforce porch supports
You must improve your support structure for your porch as well. You can do this by using high-quality lumber for support beams, either 2″x8″ or 2″x10″. I like to connect these to the posts by using lag bolts to ensure that they will never move. Make sure and pre-drill holes first, before you put in the lag bolts.
Install porch rails
Now would be a perfect time to install your porch rails. These can simply be nailed or screwed into place and should run along the top of your fence boards (they are not connected permanently, so make sure and have an extra set on hand). They're mostly there for looks, but they'll also help to prevent any pets from falling off during those exciting windy days. These will look much better if you use treated lumber rather than pressure-treated – this is very inexpensive and lasts much longer in areas that receive direct sunlight.
Now would be the time to test out your porch. Make sure and have a few boxes of supplies on hand (you can never know when you might get yourself stuck outside, right?). If everything seems in place and secure, you're good to move on.
What about windows or doors?
Windows are slightly easier to install than sliding glass doors, but it does all depend on where you live. If you're in an area that gets very cold during the winter months, I recommend installing permanent sliding glass doors and adding curtains instead – you can decide on many types of draperies and curtains. This way there's no chance of them getting stuck shut with ice. If you're installing doors, you'll want to make sure and add a door handle or knob of some kind so that it will be easy to get in and out.
Attach your porch flooring
The last step is for you to put down your new flooring. For best results, I recommend using either high-quality plywood (this should be 3/4″ thick) or OSB (or on-site board). This will ensure that it stands up in direct sunlight and any areas with high winds. Once this is complete, you're ready for move-in.
What Size Screened In Porch Should You Get?
There are two main questions that people ask when they are looking into buying a screened in porch. The first question is, how big do I want my porch to be? And the second question that comes up after answering the first one is what kind of material should I use for my project?
The answer to both those questions are related, but before we go any further here's a bit about how you'll use your porch.
Screened porches come in two main sizes – small and large. I've listed their specifications below:
- Small Screen Porch: 48″ tall x 60″ feet long
- Large Screen Porch: 48″ tall x 96″ feet long
So which size would work best for you? This mostly depends on where exactly you plan on using it. For example, if you want to use your porch for sitting and eating, it might be best to go with the large size because of all the extra room that will be available. However, if you're planning on doing this on a more regular basis indoors and then using the outdoors as additional storage space (because let's face it – we could all use some more of that), then I'd say opt for a small screened in porch.
What Style Should You Get?
It was mentioned earlier that there are two main styles of screen porches: enclosed and open-air patio-style structures. These styles both have their benefits and disadvantages so depending on what you plan on using yours for will determine which one is right for you. If you want something to add some extra space to your living room, then I'd suggest going with an enclosed style.
However, if you want a screened in porch that's mostly for outdoor use or storage, it would be best to go with the open-air patio – especially if you know that you'll be getting direct sunlight regularly.
How Expensive Are They?
The great thing about screen porches is that they are much more budget-friendly than regular additions. They usually cost between $5 and $8 per square foot of flooring which makes them one of the most affordable ways to add real estate to your home. If you're looking for a super budget way to transform any area in your home into something special, this may be right up your alley.
How To Build A Screened In Porch On The Cheap
Let’s now talk about how to build a screened-in porch on the cheap – because everyone loves it when they can save a little cash while making their home even better. To do this, you need to plan and purchase your materials early so that you have time for sales and discounts to come around.
One of the biggest ways to save cash is by using recycled supplies. For example, if there are any old windows or sliding glass doors lying around in your backyard or garage, consider using these instead of buying brand new ones.
If you want to go big with your screened in porch project then I recommend using a double door. This will make moving large objects from one side to the other much easier. Also, if you plan on using your porch for more than storage then I recommend picking up a couple of hooks so that you can hang items like jackets or purses.
A Quick Note About Health Safety When Building A Screened In Porch
Since it's highly advised to keep all things that might get in the way inside when building outside, I want to make a quick note about health safety. Also, when working with tools such as saws and hammers, it's important to have the right ear protection to prevent hearing loss. It may seem counterintuitive because you're trying to add a screened-in porch (which is meant for relaxing) while thinking about your safety, but trust me – it's an investment worth making.
What is the best way to start planning my screened in porch?
Before you can start executing, you need to decide on what exactly you want your screen porch to be used for. For example, do you plan on using this as a place to sit and eat? Are you hoping to use it as additional storage space? Or perhaps your goal is simply to add some extra real estate to your home in the most budget-friendly way possible?
Once you figure out how the area will be used (and if any other outdoor elements would affect its functionality) then I'd suggest looking into what kind of roofing material will best fit your needs. For example, if there's a lot of sun and rain where you live, choosing a roof with a low slope would be best. On the other hand, if you live in a humid area then it would be best to go with a roof that has some kind of drainage system already built into it.
What materials am I going to need?
If you're planning on building your screen porch from scratch then that means you'll have to come up with a list of tools and materials that will best suit your needs. Of course, there are a lot of great kits available but they can get pricey very fast and they may not include everything you need so it's best to do some careful planning before making any purchases.
Final thoughts on how to build a screened in porch
If you have followed this article and now know how to build a screened-in porch, you will be able to start your porch easily. In addition, you will also get ideas on what can be added such as installing skylights to allow natural light into the building. This way you will always enjoy relaxing in the house – even if it’s late or the middle of the night.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to start planning your new screened in porch today.