Screened-in Porches - Part 2 of 2

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Screening in a porch is an inexpensive way to make your outdoor living space more comfortable.

 

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Overview

If you have ever built a stud wall and repaired a window screen, you already have most of the skills needed for a screened-in project. A screen-in can be accomplished on many areas of a house or yard, including decks, patios, and gazebos. But by far the most popular area for a screen-in is the front porch. The quick and simple front porch screen-in demonstrated on the following pages is a good example of how to make outdoor living space more livable.There are several strategies that can be employed for screening-in a porch. If you already have a basic framework of posts and rails, you can attach screen and trim directly to the framing, then add a screen door to complete the enclosure. If no suitable frame exists, you can build a simple 2 x 4 frame.The traditional way to install screening is to staple it directly to the frame members then cover the staples with trim or to hold the screen in place with a decorative retaining strip. Another option is to use a screening kit, which yields a clean, finished look and drum-tight screens that are easier to repair than traditional staple-and-trim installations. A third method is to build individual screen frames to fit inside each opening in the porch framework. The main advantage with these methods is that you can easily remove the screens for the colder months of the year.
Screening for porches, doors, and windows has performed the same primary function—keeping the bugs out—since it came into popular use in the late-1800s, but today’s screening products can offer more than protection from insects. To help you select the right material for your project, here is a look at the most common types of screening and the specific properties of each. By far the most common type of screen used for porches, fiberglass mesh is inexpensive and offers good visibility due to minimal glare from sunlight. Fiberglass screen won’t crease like metal screening, and its flexibility makes it the easiest type to work with. Its main drawbacks are that it stretches and tears more easily than most other screen types. Commonly available in black, silver gray, and charcoal; black tends to produce the least glare. Aluminum is the other standard screen material and costs about a third more than fiberglass. It offers excellent visibility, but glare can be a problem, especially with bare (silver) metal screen. Aluminum screen is more rigid than fiberglass and thus a little harder to install, but it’s also more durable, although it is prone to creasing during installation and to denting at any time. In coastal areas, aluminum will oxidize. Available in gray, black, and charcoal; black usually offers the best visibility. For upscale jobs, screen is available in bronze, stainless steel, copper, and monel (a nickel-copper alloy). All of these are tough, long-lasting, and desired for their specific coloring and somewhat more elegant appearance over standard screening. Bronze, stainless steel, and monel hold up well in seaside climates. For porches and sunrooms that tend to overheat in the summer, sun-blocking screen is available in a variety of types. The idea here is to keep out the bugs, along with most of the sun’s heat, while letting light pass through to the interior of the space and still maintaining good exterior visibility. Some sun control screens can keep up to 90% of the sun’s heat from getting inside. Pet screening is many times stronger than standard mesh—perfect for owners of dogs, cats, small children, and other loveable but destructive creatures. It’s more expensive (and affords less visibility) than standard screen, so you might choose to install pet screening only along the lower portion of screened walls, such as below a sturdy mid-rail or hand railing.

What You'll Need

Tools:

Basic hand tools
Saws
Staple gun
Carpenter’s level
Framing lumber
Deck screws
Fiberglass insect mesh screening
Screen retaining strips
Brass brads
Screen door

Materials:

Basic hand tools
Saws
Staple gun
Carpenter’s level
Framing lumber
Deck screws
Fiberglass insect mesh screening
Screen retaining strips
Brass brads
Screen door

 

Step 1

How to Screen in Porches

Attach the hinges to the door. Most screen doors are not prehung, so you will need to buy hinges separately. We used three 21⁄2" door hinges. Install one hinge 12" from the top of the door, and another 12" from the bottom. Space the third evenly between them. Cut a mortise for each hinge into the edge of the door using a wood chisel, then attach the hinges with wood screws.


Step 2

How to Screen in Porches

Set the door in the opening using 1⁄2"-thick spacers to hold it up off the floor. Outline the hinge plates onto the front edge of the door frame.


Step 3

How to Screen in Porches

Cut mortises into the door frame at the hinge locations using a wood chisel. The mortises should be deep enough so the hinge plate will be flush with the surface of the wood. Attach the hinge plates to the mortises in the door and then hang the door in the opening.


Step 4

How to Screen in Porches

Install the door hardware, including a door pull, a closer or spring, a wind chain, and a latch or lock if desired. Read the manufacturer’s directions for each piece of hardware. Option: Install a rubber door sweep on the bottom of the door.


Step 5

How to Screen in Porches

Mark the centerlines along the inside faces of all studs, spreaders, and posts for reference when installing the screens. Using scissors, cut strips of screening so they are at least 4" wider and 4" longer than the opening in the framework where each screen will be installed. Begin attaching screens at the tops of the openings by securing them with wood screen retaining strips. Attach the retaining strips with brass brads spaced at 6 to 12" intervals.


Step 6

How to Screen in Porches

With a helper, pull the screen down until it is taut. Use a retaining strip (cut to the width of the opening) to press the screen against the reference line. Attach the bottom retaining strip near the ends, then staple the screen at the sides, flush against the reference lines. Attach retaining strips at the sides of the opening.


Step 7

How to Screen in Porches

Use a utility knife to trim excess screening at the edges of the retaining strips. Install screens in all of the remaining openings.


 
 

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