Screen a Porch

A screened-in porch lets the outdoors in -- and keeps out the bugs. Here's how to build one yourself.

Tips for Screening

This formerly open porch
is now a comfortable
place to relax.

You can make more of your outdoors with these fresh-as-air ideas that use paint, stain, and basic carpentry skills to spruce up a plain backyard. Mosquitoes, plus the desire to enjoy spring, summer, and fall relaxing outside, prompted the owners of the Atlanta, Georgia home shown here to transform their back porch from a concrete slab to a screened-in showcase. The decision was simple; the solution wasn't quite so easy.

Though they knew they wanted to screen the existing back patio -- a square of concrete tucked under a roof overhang -- complications arose. The porch needed to blend in with the existing house and still withstand the local insects, high humidity, and scorching summer temperatures. The concrete slab had a slight drop for rain runoff, so the homeowners had to trim the inside of the frame to fit that slope.

Before: The back patio
prior to its conversion.

For the porch's interior, the homeowners settled on a beaded plywood paneling that combined country charm and Victorian style. They installed a fan to keep the porch cool during Atlanta's summers.

When it came to the exterior, the homeowners looked for pale yellow siding to blend with the house. They chose a hardboard exterior siding and trim made from a mixture of wood chips and resins. It suffers less than solid wood from warping, checking, and splitting caused by high humidity.

Exterior: Screened Porch The new screened porch
looks right at home.

The concrete floor (the existing concrete slab) was left uncovered for minimal upkeep. The homeowners keep throw rugs handy for parties. The screens had several requirements to fulfill. They had to keep out the pests, not sag or rip, stand up to wear, and provide a clean, sophisticated look. Instead of fighting to staple the screens tightly across frames, the homeowners used a screen system with a choice of screens that simply snap into tracks on the exterior frame. During the winter, plastic can be installed in the tracks to insulate the porch.

Continued on page 2:  Instructions