No matter the size, from a small front porch addition, to a privacy porch design during a bedroom renovation, or a large screen porch construction for entertaining, knowing how and when it will be used will help determine many other factors.
Some important questions to think about when designing your custom porch are, the purpose of your custom screened porch addition and the functionality.
What is your screened porch’s primary function?
A quiet place to sit back and relax in comfort
Neighborhood get-togethers on weekends
Quiet intimate outdoor dinners
Entertaining (business or pleasure)
An exercise room
Outdoor game room
Spa retreat complete with hot tub or jacuzzi
Weekend “tailgating” room to watch all the games!
Entertainment room with surround sound
Place for morning coffee and the paper
A privacy area for reading a good book or watching wildlife
Combination of two or more of the above
Why is purpose so important?
Why is knowing how it will be used such an important aspect of a screened in porch? Ideas for screened in porches create specific construction criteria:
Designing a custom screened porch for intimate dinners may require electrical modifications to accommodate a chandelier whereas an exercise room will possibly require in-floor receptacles to power treadmills or stair climbers.
An office area may require additional direct lighting, computer surge protection, and smooth flooring to easily maneuver an office chair.
An entertainment room or sports room may require a fireplace and wide-screen TV, stereo surround sound, and popcorn making machine!
Here are a few other important considerations for your screened in porch design.
How many people will use your screen porch on a regular basis?
You will probably furnish your screened porch based on this number. If it will be used primarily by family members on a regular basis you will want to plan for that number plus 2 more (occasional friends). You’ll want your screened porch large enough to easily accommodate at least that many people.
What is the highest number of people that will use your screen porch periodically?
If you host a Thanksgiving dinner every year in your porch consider adding space or reconfigure your seating to accommodate a larger number. You may want to have additional outlets on a wall for food warmers or a storage space to stack additional chairs or a table.
How young are those that will use the screen porch regularly?
Toddlers and younger children are both inquisitive and play hard. Your screened porch may need additional considerations like a combination of vinyl slider and screen or a knee wall instead of screens near the floor, etc., to either protect the screening or prevent someone from falling through the screening.
Screen Porch Design Location Considerations
The first location factors to consider for screen porch designs deal with the property itself: easements, setbacks, Home Owner Associations (HOAs), and topography (terrain, slope, and landscaping).
Easements: are pathways that must be accessible and unencumbered by law. Here’s a few easements that could potentially affect the location of new screened porch:
Flowage easement: You cannot alter or block water runoff depressions, gullies, or streams.
Utility easement: You must allow access for utility lines and poles.
Accessibility easement: When properties are split, you must allow access, usually a driveway width, to the other property.
Setback Restrictions: are based on the distance from the edge of the property line to the new construction, most municipalities have such restrictions.
Property Setbacks could impact where you can locate a screen porch. Most municipal planning departments require a site plan; they should check to see if any violation exists before a permit is issued. For most of us our screen porch designs will not be affected by them but as professional porch builders, we know of cases where it has occurred.
Home Owner Associations (HOAs): This is not a group you want to dismiss during porch building if you happen to live in an area controlled by one. HOAs have immense legal power in the courts and it is very difficult to get a favorable ruling in most cases if you violate a rule.
Topographical features such as slope, terrain, and landscaping can affect the location of your screen porch addition.
A steep slope or even moderate sloping may be excellent locations for a screened porch. Most would require additional support column reinforcement which will increase costs but you would be using property that otherwise is unusable.
Terrain can affect your location as well. If you live in a flat area that is prone to flooding locating a screen porch at ground level in a low area may not be the best spot.
Landscaping should be considered as well when locating a screen porch. Although you have a roof, shade trees can help keep the hot sun off your porch to keep it cooler. Likewise, if you desire a lot of light for reading or playing games, you might consider not placing it in a shaded area.
Screen Porch Sitting
You’ll also want to take advantage of the prevailing breezes of summer. This will help to keep it cooler and more enjoyable. If you live in a windy area, you may want to place the screened porch in a location to avoid the wind. It’s no fun eating outdoors when the wind is blowing everything off the table.
Along with the wind comes the sun. Placing the screened porch addition on the west side of your home will invite plenty of it. Blocking the sun is easy with porch blinds and shades!
You’ll also want to capture views of wildlife, the setting sun, or even your children playing in the yard.
Views are important to most of us so it should play a major role in determining where you build your porch or position your screen porch to avoid unsightly objects, e.g., your neighbors dilapidated shed, an untended swimming pool, etc.
In addition, consider noise levels. If you have noisy neighbours perhaps placing the screened porch on the opposite side will help alleviate the intrusion.
And lastly, consider traffic patterns in your screen porch designs. Does your porch give you easy access to areas of your yard or home that you frequent often? Do you have a garden that needs to be watered on the right but the faucet is to the left of your screened porch? Will your guests have to go through the kitchen to access the porch?
A small screened porch off the kitchen designed for morning coffee and the paper needs to appear from both inside and out as an extension of the original kitchen. Likewise, a large second-story screen porch needs to appear as an integral part of the second floor.
When applying All-Craft’s porch design process your screen porch will be sure to define how you will use it most of the time!
Consider the following when designing your screened porch:
Roof lines are the trickiest part of the screen porch in most cases and are the most important screen porch design factor. Try to keep the roof lines consistent with your home.
If you have a gable roof, try to incorporate a gable into your screen porch roof design. Although a shed roof would be less expensive, a gable roof will not only have more appeal but also allow for a cathedral ceiling.
In some cases, it may be very difficult to join one roof to another due to the rise and run (slope). The longer the roof the more rise (slope) it needs to shed water, ice, and snow. Adjustments may have to be made to meet code requirements.
Match the roofing materials on both your home and screen porch roof.
Style is important. If you have a country-style home, building a contemporary screen porch will look out-of-place. Try to keep window framing, trim, etc., basically the same throughout. It doesn’t have to match exactly but it should be close. Just as different window coverings can change the appearance of a room, trim and framing can change the appearance of your custom screened porch.
Attention to details can help blend your porch’s style with that of your home. Carry your home’s trim onto your screen porch addition if possible.