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. Then, reality struck: The bugs. Ugh. Now you’re dreaming of a screened-in deck.

Buyers love screened in decks, says Elaine VonCannon, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Traditions in 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 ($100 to $300).
  • Beef up joists and beams.
  • Pour a concrete foundation (which could cost $2,000 to $6,000).

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

  • A shed roof is the most economical and 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 durability a top priority? Or do you want to avoid blocking a beautiful view with an obtrusive screen? There’s a type of screen for just about any need.

Porch screen types and how much they cost:

FiberglassEasy to install and the most affordable Tears easily and tends to stretch and look floppy25 cents to 35 cents per square foot
AluminumStronger and more durable than fiberglass and the least visibleCan oxidize easily45 cents to 75 cents per square foot
Vinyl-coated polyesterStrong enough for pets and can dissipate heat in hot climatesLess visibility60 cents to $1 per square foot
BronzeStrong, doesn’t easily oxidize in salt air along coasts, and develops a patina with age.Can't be combined with aluminum framing 85 cents per square foot
Monel (alloy of copper and nickel)Strong and resists tears, rust, and corrosionExpensive$6 per square foot
Stainless SteelStrong and resists tears, rust, and corrosion.Heavy and stiff90 cents to $1 per square foot
Premade screen panelsEasier to install and repair than rolls of screeningExpensive$50 to $75 per 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 will result from enclosing 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 for your screened-in deck: check local building codes for setback regulations and building specifications before you're fined (or worse, told to redo!).

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.