Screened-in patio adds value to a home

June 19, 2009|By PAT LOGAN / Creators Syndicate

Dear Pat: I have a good-size patio in the backyard and I would like to convert a portion of it into a screened porch. Other than buying an expensive sunspace kit, how can I build a simple one myself? - Pam A.

Dear Pam: You and your family should receive a lot of enjoyment from even a small, screened porch. What's more, it should increase the resale value of your home by more than the cost of the material used to build it. With a patio in good condition, building a screened porch should be within the skill level of most do-it-yourselfers.

The most difficult part of the job will be attaching the main support framing to the patio. It is best to use vertical post supports, which are short metal sockets that the corner wood beams fit in. You will have to drill into the concrete patio and screw or pop-rivet the sockets in place.


Most patios are not set on footers, so the patio can move up and down with changes in the seasons. This is particularly true in colder climates where the ground may freeze. For this reason, don't plan to rigidly attach the house side of the porch beam to the house. The house in on footers and will not move.

You mentioned a small porch, but don't undersize it. A size of 8 by 10 feet would be a minimum for four people to sit comfortably in chairs, and 8 by 12 feet would be even better. Remember, you will probably want a couple of small tables to hold drinks and newspapers.

Make the corner posts on side nearest the house longer so the porch roof slopes away from the house. Unless you plan to get fancy and add a gutter on the end, extend a shingled plywood roof 2 feet beyond the end of the porch. This will allow water to run off without splashing back through the screens.

The least expensive method to cover the sides is to build your own frames and staple on screening. The frames can be screwed to the porch framing over thin adhesive-backed foam weather stripping to seal out insects. Place the stapled side against the porch framing for a cleaner appearance.

Another slightly more expensive option is purchasing screen-framing kits. These consist of special channels and splines that snap together to hold the screen material taut. Screen-framing kits can be purchased from your local home center store. Other sources: Rite Screen, 717-365-3400,; or Screen Tight, 800-768-7325,

Install a hinged screen door and frame in the side of the porch nearest to your back door. Because the size is not critical, again try to find a scrap one at a contractor. Build heavy framing around it because children often try to swing on doors.

At a later time, you might want to add windows over the screens to convert it into a three-season room. There are a number of options to accomplish this, from using clear acrylic plastic to real window glass. Large sheets of acrylic are available from any home center store.

You might be able to find inexpensive scrap windows from a local window contractor. Sometimes, a customer is unable to pay for the custom windows, or the wrong size was made. The contractor will often sell these windows inexpensively just to get rid of them.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit

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