DIY porch enclosures

Updated July 20, 2017

Enclosed porches never seem to go out of style. Whether you want to enjoy warm summer nights or want to expand your existing living space, there is an enclosed porch design for every homeowner. From screened porches to sunrooms, there are choices that can fit every taste and budget. In fact, using an existing porch is a great way to build an entirely new room.

Easy and breezy

The easiest way to enclose an existing porch is by using a screen system. Screened-in porches do not offer a lot of privacy, but they are perfect for homeowners who want a comfortable space to relax while they take in the sounds of nature. Even better, screened-in porches do not need to be a permanent fixture. They can be taken down when temperatures begin to drop or if the homeowners simply change their mind.

Most home stores carry screen systems. There are two common systems. One is a mesh system, which works best for porches that have an existing roof, posts and railings. The mesh is spread across the areas of the porch that need to be enclosed and are then stapled into place. This is a very inexpensive solution, but there can be problems later. Sometimes the mesh begins to sag over time, which requires the homeowner to replace the screening or do routine maintenance.

Porches also can be screened in with a vinyl-spline system. These systems also can be purchased at a home store. They are just like the mesh system, but they come with tracks that hold the screening in place. These work better for porches that are free of posts and railings. The tracks can be installed on the porch floor and on the roof. The screen is then set in place in the tracks. Most often, vinyl-spline systems eliminate the sagging that can happen with a regular mesh system.


Another option is to choose glass over mesh. You won't be able to feel the summer breeze unless you open a window, but a sunroom can add an extra bit of sophistication. Many DIY centres carry kits that will help you enclose your porch in glass. These kits provide all of the accessories you'll need, including glass panels, doors and tools.

Most sunroom kits are meant to be built on existing porches without railings or posts. If you want to build a sunroom, you may need to eliminate the posts and railings. The glass panels will be anchored to the existing porch floor and the walls of the home. All you need to do is measure out the space and construct the glass framing.

Sunrooms do have a downside. You can't use them year round unless you have well-insulated glass. This isn't usually viable with a sunroom kit. Also, most do-it-yourself sunrooms come in only a few different designs. If you want something more unique that stays warm during winter months, it is best to consult with a contractor.

A whole new room

Many homeowners have taken their front or back porches and turned them into entirely new living spaces. The options for doing this are endless. All you need to do is frame in the existing porch so that it acts as an addition to the home. If you don't have the carpentry and building skills, a builder can help you with the construction basics. A contractor also can tell you what kinds of designs are viable for the existing space.

Just because you are going to frame in the existing porch doesn't mean that you need to enclose it fully with three walls. You may want to consider a bank of windows on one or two walls. Also, decide if the enclosed porch can be entered from outside or if you need to go through the house. Determine where walls and doors will go when you put your plans together.

Another factor to consider is how functional you want the framed-in porch to be. If you think you'll spend a lot of time in the space, consult with an electrician about whether or not it is possible to run electricity for lamps and other electric devices. You also may want to ensure that the space is well-insulated and can stay warm during winter. Insulation can be placed behind plasterbpoard or wood panels.

The interior look is also important. You can either have a natural wood look or you can plaster over the walls and add a coat of paint. The options for a framed-in porch are really only limited by the homeowner's imagination and budget.

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About the Author

James J. Siegel is a journalist with over ten years of experience. He graduated from Bowling Green State University and works as an editor for a trade magazine. His freelance work has appeared in San Francisco Apartment Magazine and