What you need to know when designing a screened porch

Distinguished scientists have found, through careful research, that a mosquito can lift its own weight 10 times. This means, of course, that only 11 253 534 mosquitoes are needed to grab, raise and fly a medium-sized poodle.

Alarming does not seem to be as scary as the fact that 11,253,534 is also exact number of mosquitoes contained in cubic meters of mid-summer air found in the typical midwestern yard. Which is exactly why these same respected scientists invented the screened porch.

In temperate climates, flying insects can make enjoying the warm summer nights very difficult. Americans spend a lot of money on different methods of repelling buzzing vampires. We spend even more money on decks and patios just to find their use limited by the local bug population. And that's why so many homeowners make screened porch an indispensable part of their home.

My clients often ask me if a screened porch or Florida room or three seasons is more suitable for outdoor living in the Midwest. They are many different types of spaces; a three-season room is much more than just a screened porch with windows.

Typically, building codes require any enclosed space that can be heated and cooled to meet all indoor living space requirements. This means exceeding basic structural stability: a room enclosed with walls and glass must be insulated, heated, provided with appropriate natural and / or artificial lighting, provided with the appropriate number of electrical contacts, and comply with mechanical energy codes.

However, the screened porch is considered to be an outdoor living space and should only be structurally sound. While it is not high enough from the ground to require a railing, several other code requirements are required. There is also a difference in price, as the screened porch requires fewer deals and much less material to build. This is a relatively inexpensive way to add living space and extend the enjoyment of your yard and garden in the spring and fall.

But the true delight of the screened porch is the feeling of being outside , no rain, blazing sun or bugs. This is an experience that is not felt in even the most glazed "Florida rooms." It is a common mistake to overdo the screened porch, add more columns than necessary, or install a half height wall around the perimeter. Anything that creates a physical or visual separation between inside and outside erodes the illusion. The best screened porches are as transparent as possible.

Finding the right spot for a screened porch can be difficult, especially in tight suburban lots. In most cases, the screened porch must be connected to another family gathering area and close to the kitchen, overlooking the yard or garden. But how do you do this without blocking views from other rooms? Again, transparency is the key. Make the screens as large and ceiling high as possible, add a light or two lights and you'll still have a good view inside the house.

Screened porch materials should be selected first for architectural compatibility with the house and second for durability. If the porch needs to be painted, be sure to choose the type and class of wood that will hold the paint well. Cedar, mahogany and other western coniferous trees are excellent for paint adhesion. Cedar and mahogany are also known for their natural resistance to insects and rot.

Other options for the porch frame include pressurized timber and several recently introduced simulated timber products made from varying proportions of recycled plastics and scrap wood. These "polymer-wood" materials offer excellent resistance to decay and insects and ultimately the weather to a pleasant gray color.

The screens themselves can be made of metal or plastic. Plastic screening is usually the best choice, offering rust resistance, light weight and durability. And although the screens can be attached directly to the porch frame, a pre-installed frame system makes it easy to replace and clean by simply removing the entire screen and frame as a whole. A local on-screen contractor will measure the existing openings and build the pre-installed frames.

A well-designed and well-constructed screened porch adds value, function, character and pleasure to a home. This can help you connect with the outdoors a little more and give you another reason to keep the garden weeded. It can also get bugs out of your yard – and save you a fortune from citronella.