From Spotlight: Summer Solutions

3 Can’t-Lose Ideas to Get the Screened-In Deck of Your Dreams

Itch-free living outdoors. It can happen.

Screened deck with a blue ceiling
Image: The Cleary Company/Marshall Evan Photography

When you bought your home, you dreamed of languid evenings on your back deck. But then: The bugs. Ugh. Now you’re dreaming of a screened-in deck.

Buyers love them, says Elaine VonCannon, a REALTOR® from Williamsburg, Va. “It works for everybody who likes to sit outside.” 

If you’re one of them, you can’t lose. Here’s what else will help you get started:

#1 Start With the Roof

Your deck will need to be able to support a roof. Check with your local building codes, but you may have to do one or more of these things:

  • Add more posts and foundation piers ($500 to $5,000).
  • Beef up joists and beams.
  • Pour a concrete foundation (which could cost $10,000).

You’ll also need to choose the style of roof:

  • A shed roof is the most economical and very common on porches.
  • A hip roof is the strongest (and priciest).
  • A gable roof lets in the most light.

The key is to choose a roof that will look like it has always been part of your house. Using the same roofing materials will help.

#2 Don't Scrimp on the Screen

Do you have rambunctious pets that make strength a top priority? Or is there a beautiful view you don’t want to block with an obtrusive screen? There’s a different type of screen for just about any need.

Porch screen types and how much they cost:

Fiberglass. Easy to install and the most affordable. Tears easily and has a tendency to stretch and look floppy. (17 cents/square foot)

Aluminum. Stronger and more durable than fiberglass, and the least visible. Can oxidize easily. (26 cents/square foot)

Vinyl-Coated Polyester. Strong enough for pets, and it can dissipate heat in hot climates. (60 cents-$1.53/square foot)

Bronze. Strong, doesn’t easily oxidize in salt air along coasts, and develops a patina with age. ($1.10/square foot)

Monel (alloy of copper and nickel) or stainless steel ($2.25-$5/square feet). Strong, and tear-, rust-, and corrosion-resistant.

Pre-made screen panels are easier to install and repair than rolls of screening, but you pay the price of $50 to $75/running foot. 

#3 Screened-In Deck Ideas to Make Yours Extra Special

  1. Add electrical outlets for lamps, ceiling fans, and phone chargers.
  2. Add a skylight to the adjacent room to avoid the loss of light that will happen when you enclose your deck.
  3. Remove railings if you want a floor-to-ceiling screened porch, which gives you an unobstructed view.
  4. Bug-proof the floors, too! To keep tiny critters from climbing into your new porch from below, attach a fine mesh screen or landscape paper to the underside of the floor. Or, replace the current floor with tongue-and-groove boards that fit so tightly bugs can’t climb through.

One final tip: check local building codes for setback regulations and building specifications before you're fined (or worse, told to re-do!).

Housing And Real Estate Expert Lisa Kaplan-Gordon

Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Lisa Kaplan Gordon is an award-winning, Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer who contributes to real estate and home improvement sites. In her spare time (yeah, right!), she gardens, manages three dogs, and plots to get her 21-year-old out of her basement.