Adding a Screened Room to Your Home

Brian Dooley

Creating an outdoor living area is a great way to take advantage of underutilized space. Although decks and patios can be very inviting, the presence and persistence of insects can render the space unusable. By enclosing such a space with a screen, you can transform it into a functional space that you and your family can enjoy.

Generally, screened rooms are significantly less expensive than glazed sunrooms, which on average will cost $72,000. Although it is more difficult to regulate the temperature in a screened room than a sunroom, since you’re practically outdoors, screened rooms aren’t without their advantages. There’s something quiet relaxing about being able to hear the hum of bees without having to fear their sting.

The appeal of a semi-enclosed, screened room is that it is open to the breeze, but closed to insects, rodents and other intruders. And even as you relax in the great outdoors, you can maintain some sense of privacy; most screens obstruct visibility from a distance yet still allow for a nice view from the inside. Most screened rooms also keep the sun off of your head, without depriving you of the benefits of natural light.

Planning Your Screened Room

Creating a screened room can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. The most complicated versions include built-in pools or spas, but there are plenty more modest options. Screening in an existing porch is fairly simple; a more complicated but still common project involves adding a screen to a deck or patio. And, building another room, whether attached to the house or detached, is a great way to add an entertainment space at a relatively low cost.

You can build with aluminum, vinyl or wooden supports, and add a solid roof, a screened roof or a roof with a skylight. The screen itself can be aluminum, vinyl or other materials; there are even low-maintenance and pet-proof screens on the market.

Whenever you undertake a home improvement project, it’s important to make your choices carefully. The project complexity and materials will determine your project’s cost.

Keep in mind, you may or may not be able to recoup these costs if you sell your house. The demand for screened rooms will depend, to some extent, on your home’s location. If you’re considering the addition because you’re planning to sell your house, it may be best to consult a realtor before embarking on a project you hope will increase your home’s value.

Special Planning Considerations

If you’re planning to install or upgrade a pool, consider adding a screened surround. Such enclosures can help to keep bugs away and (depending on your roofing material) minimize sun exposure. Remember that installing a pool will require you to hire pool construction specialists. You’ll also need to make preparations for the ongoing maintenance of the electricity, plumbing, machinery and water quality.

Having It Built

Some projects, such as adding a screen to a porch, can be tackled as a DIY project. Home Depot sells a kit for such a purpose, and your local hardware store should be able to provide advice and material.

A patio screening or a home addition, however, will require structural additions. You may need to pour a concrete slab, add reinforcements or supports and install roofing. This means that engineering principles will need to be followed and regulations will need to be addressed in order to ensure the structure’s safety.

For such projects, it’s a good idea to hire a contractor. At the very least, have an engineer review your plans and check with local authorities on clearance restrictions, safety regulations and tax implications. Be sure to consider how this will impact your homeowners insurance rates, and whether you’ll need additional coverages such as contractor liability and extra home liability protection (particularly if you install a pool).

If you do hire a contractor, it’s important to ensure that they are capable, have successfully completed similar projects, are licensed and are fully insured. Should something go wrong, at least you’ll know that the professionals you hired are fully accountable for the work being done.

Before committing to a particular contractor, it’s always a good idea to get estimates from several contractors. There are many resources available for finding and evaluating contractors, such as Angie’s List.

Safety and Security Considerations

This space should be a safe place that the entire family can enjoy. Therefore, if there are stairs, even if it’s only one or two steps, be sure to install a railing. If there is a pool, you may need to install a fence around it with a self-closing and lockable gate. Make sure to add adequate lighting and do not cook in your enclosed room.

Also, be sure to install firm and lockable doors, particularly if those doors lead to the inside of your home. And because this may be a vulnerable area, consider including motion detectors.

Furnishing Your Screened Room

There are plenty of ways in which to create a bright and inviting space, without breaking the bank. The key is to find items that are weather-proof and fade-resistant. Remember, your furniture and décor will be somewhat exposed to the elements. Avoid composite wood, leather, light-sensitive artwork and anything that will chip, mold or swell if left outside. And, if inclement weather is in the forecast, secure anything that could be damaged or cause damage, even if that means bringing it inside.

Enjoying Your Screened Room

A screened room can be a wonderful addition to your home. Although they are more common in warmer climates, they can function as a seasonal leisure space in any region. Even if you can’t use your screened room over the winter, you should still be able to enjoy it during the warmer months. And, if all else fails, many home improvement stores sell outdoor heaters that can transform a nippy porch into a warm and inviting outdoor living area.

Keep Reading: Should You Move or Remodel?

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