Monday, April 8, 2013

That is the question!

Screen back porch.
To screen or not to screen, that is the question.

Planning new outside space or remodeling the one you have? 

There are many things to consider; one is if you will use screening.  It can make or break an outside space as far as usefulness.

Ask yourself:

Do you have pesky insects:  gnats, mosquitoes, millers, picnic bugs, wasps and bees - to name the most obvious and annoying in the Midwest?

Do you plan to use your porch for eating?

If you answered "yes" to either of these, I'd suggest screening. 

Nothing can spoil an outdoor experience faster than annoying insects.  It makes entertaining difficult and leisure time a constant interruption to swat and fan.

If your space is large, screening in a portion and leaving a portion unscreened will serve both instances.

Front porch.
Some folks don't like screens because they feel it inhibits the view.  Plus and minus:

The newer plastic screens in dark colors can make this view issue go away (almost.)  It's easy to work with and less expensive.  The one big negative is it rips and stretches easier.  This is more an issue if you have pets clawing at it or cats climbing. 

The good old fashioned metal screen comes in material that no longer rusts and is more expensive.  Copper screen will turn a lovely green patina but is the most expensive.  It needs a higher level of talent to stretch metal screens tight.

When my husband built the back porch, he built wood frames that fit between the posts and then mounted the screen to these.  It's easier and cheaper to install and if there is damage, the entire porch doesn't need the screen replaced.

Since I hose the porch regularly in the summer, the screen frames are about 3 inches off the floor but the screen wire cups out at the bottom to allow run off, prevent rotting yet keep out insects.

Taking photos from a screened porch will make them fuzzy at best.  Screened porches do stay a little cleaner because birds, bats and critters can't mess on them.

Our front porch isn't screened because it would seriously detract from the intended architecture of the home.  There are some periods in summer where insects make sitting out there impossible or at the very least miserable.  This is about the same time when the sun brings temps on the south west side of the house into triple digits so it's pretty much a wash.  During this part of extremely hot summers, the porch is used in the mornings for a cup of coffee.

By screening the back porch, we've essentially given our home a three season room.  We almost live out there in the summer.  Tables and chairs for meals, furniture for sitting and visiting, and enough room for kids to play.  I never wanted it to be a four season room - we have plenty of space inside during the winter. 

For those that want a four season room, the choice must then be more durable screens included with installed windows.  To make it less a chore, they should operate easily, be large enough to not impede the view, the glass should be glazed and insulated, and easily cleaned.

Our front porch was originally small with a little garden storage room attached on the west.  The entire thing was pretty much rotted so much had to be rebuilt.  There was no door to the back.  When we installed the double doors and windows, a screened in back porch was the perfect addition.  Here are a few photos of the process:

Starting the back porch.

New floor down on the beginning of front porch replacement.

Where the back porch will go.
Original front porch.

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