A Simple Screened Porch
Inexpensive screen panels combined with cable railings create a clever assembly.
Synopsis: This article describes a simple method for installing screens on a porch that are rot-resistant and easily removable for repairs. Rather than rolling screen down a wooden frame or installing wooden screen doors, carpenters Brian Kelley and Eric Paulson install aluminum-framed screens anchored by existing porch posts. These screens can be attached permanently to the outside of the posts, or attached on the interior with cedar stops for a removable-screen assembly.
Brian Kelley’s company, Fusion Renovations, Inc., was building a new home on a ridge overlooking upstate New York’s rural Harlem Valley when his clients decided to add insect screening to the porch. This isn’t an uncommon request, and over the years I’ve seen carpenters tackle this project in many ways. The most common solutions seem to be either filling the spaces between the posts with wooden screen doors or adding horizontal members, unrolling screening across the assembly and securing it with trim strips. But wood can rot, and there’s no elegant way to repair future damage to screen that does not have an individual frame.
Brian and carpenter Eric Paulson took a simple approach to avoid these issues. They used the existing posts to anchor aluminum-framed screens purchased from Metro Screenworks (metroscreenworks.com) for $30 to $40 each, depending on size. In this case, the homeowners knew they would be leaving the screens in place year-round, so fastening them from the outside made sense.
But for a more convertible approach, the screen panels could be secured to the inside of the cedar stops. Because cable railings had been installed everywhere else on the existing deck to preserve the incredible view to the west, it was an easy decision to continue these railings around the porch as well. Screens are only intended to keep out bugs, but a screened porch built to code will also keep people from falling.
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