Porch Deck and Patio

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How to Build a Screened-In Porch

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 193 Projects

A screen-in can be accomplished on many areas of a house or yard, including decks, patios, and gazebos. But by far the most popular area for a screen-in is the front porch. The quick and simple front porch screen-in is a good example of how to make outdoor living space more livable.

There are several strategies that can be employed for screening-in a porch. If you already have a basic framework of posts and rails, you can attach screen and trim directly to the framing, then add a screen door to complete the enclosure. If no suitable frame exists, you can build a simple 2 x 4 frame.

To help you select the right material for your project, here is a look at the most common types of screening and the specific properties of each.

How to Build a Screened In Porch

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    The goal is to create the largest possible space not obstructed by beams, posts, railings, trim, or the ceiling. Check the corners of the outline with a framing square to make sure the chalk lines are square. Mark the door's rough opening—the door width plus 3" for the door frame and 1⁄2" for the door.

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    Attach 2 x 4 sole plates to the porch floor inside the outline using 3" deck screws driven at 12" intervals. Do not install sole plates in the door's rough opening.

    Tip: Paint all of the wood parts for the screen-in before you install them.

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    Start by marking 2 x 4 door frames at the sides of the door's rough opening—frames should rest on the floor, butted against sole plates. Mark the doubled 2 x 4 posts at the front corners of the project outline, and mark 2 x 4 end posts on the sole plates next to the wall of the house. Mark the 2 x 4 studs for screen supports, spaced at even intervals of 24" to 36", depending on the total distance spanned. Lay the 2 x 4 top plates (cut to match the sole plates) next to the sole plates, and copy post and stud marks onto the top plates.

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    Using a straight 2 x 4 and a level, mark the locations for the top plates on the ceiling directly above the sole plates.

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    Attach the top plates to the ceiling with 3" deck screws driven into the rafters, if possible. Make sure the top plates are aligned directly above the sole plates, with the framing member marks also in alignment.

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    Cut the studs and posts to length, then position and install them at the marks on the top plates and the sole plates. Install by toenailing with 16d galvanized casing nails. When installing the 2 x 4 door frames, nail through the frames and into the ends of the sole plates.

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    Cut 2 x 4 spreaders to fit between the studs and the posts at the same height as the porch railing. Attach them with 16d casing nails. The spreaders prevent framing members from warping and provide a nailing surface for screen retaining strips.

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    Install a 2 x 4 door header to create a rough opening that is 3⁄4" higher than the height of the screen door. Nail the doorstop molding to the inside faces of the door frames and header. The stop molding provides surfaces for the door to close against.

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    We used three 2 1⁄2" door hinges. Install one hinge 12" from the top of the door, and another 12" from the bottom. Space the third evenly between them. Cut a mortise for each hinge into the edge of the door using a wood chisel, then attach the hinges with wood screws.

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    Set the door in the opening using 1⁄2"-thick spacers to hold it up off the floor. Outline the hinge plates onto the front edge of the door frame.

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    Cut mortises into the door frame at the hinge locations using a wood chisel. The mortises should be deep enough so the hinge plate will be flush with the surface of the wood. Attach the hinge plates to the mortises in the door and then hang the door in the opening.

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    Install a door pull, a closer or spring, a wind chain, and a latch or lock if desired. Read the manufacturer’s directions for each piece of hardware.


    Option: Install a rubber door sweep on the bottom of the door.

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    Mark the centerlines along the inside faces of all studs, spreaders, and posts for reference when installing the screens. Using scissors, cut strips of screening so they are at least 4" wider and 4" longer than the opening in the framework where each screen will be installed.

    Begin attaching screens at the tops of the openings by securing them with wood screen retaining strips. Attach the retaining strips with brass brads spaced at 6 to 12" intervals.

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    Use a retaining strip (cut to the width of the opening) to press the screen against the reference line. Attach the bottom retaining strip near the ends, then staple the screen at the sides, flush against the reference lines. Attach retaining strips at the sides of the opening.

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    Use a utility knife to trim excess screening at the edges of the retaining strips. Install screens in all of the remaining openings.

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