If you have ever built a stud wall and repaired a window screen, you already have most of the skills needed for a screen-in project. 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 is the front porch. The quick and simple front porch screen-in demonstrated here is a good example of how to make outdoor living spaces, such as your porch, more livable.
There are many strategies you can take to accomplish a front porch screen-in. Porches and entryways covered by the main roof of the house often can be screened-in simply by attaching the screen materials directly to the existing structure of the porch using retaining strips to fasten the screens. Or, check with your local building center to learn more about manufactured screen-in systems. Generally, these systems use rubber spline cords and tracks to secure the screens, allowing the installer to create greater screen tension and reduce the need for screen frames.
Another easy way, demonstrated here, is to build a self-contained frame inside the railings, posts, and beams to support the screening. The self-contained frame is a versatile option that can be used in almost any outdoor structure.
If your floor is constructed of deck boards, cover the gaps between the boards from below using retaining strips and brads to tack fiberglass insect mesh to the bottom edges of the floor joists. If you cannot reach from below, the best solution is to remove the deck boards, attach a layer of insect mesh to the tops of the joists, and then reinstall the boards.
If you plan to paint the frames a different color than the surrounding porch surfaces, paint all of the wood parts for the screen-in before you install them.
Tools & Materials:
Tape measure; Chalk line; Framing square; Circular saw or handsaw; Carpenter’s level; Hammer; 3″ deck screws; Wood chisel; 16 d casing nails; Screwdrivers; Screen door; Staple gun; 2 W door hinges (3); Utility knife; Wood screws (1/4″, 1″); Framing lumber; Fiberglass insect mesh screening; Screen retaining strips; 1 1/4″ brass brads; Straightedge; Spacers.
1. Outline the project area on the porch floor using a chalk line. Create the largest possible space not obstructed by beams, posts, railings, trim, or the ceiling.
2. Check the corners of the outline with a framing square to make sure the chalk lines are square.
3. Mark the door rough opening-the door width plus 3″ for the doorframe and 1/2″ for clearance.
Step II: Install the Sole Plates
1. Measure and cut 2 x 4s to length for sole plates using a circular saw. Attach to the porch floor outside the chalk line using 3″ deck screws driven at 12″ intervals. Do not install sole plates in the door rough opening.
2. Mark 2 x 4 doorframes at the sides of the door rough opening using a straightedge. The doorframes should rest on the floor, butted against the sole plates.
3. Mark doubled 2 x 4 posts at the front corners of the project outline, and mark 2 x 4 end posts on the sole plate next to the wall of the house.
4. Mark 2 x 4 studs for screen supports, spaced at even intervals of 24 to 36″, depending on the total distance spanned.
Step III: Install the Top Plates
1. Cut 2 x 4 top plates to match the sole plates using a circular saw. Lay the top plates next to the sole plates, and copy the post and stud marks onto the top plates. The top plate over the door opening is not cut out.
2. Using a straight 2 x 4 and a level, mark the locations for the top plates on the ceilings directly above the sole plates.
3. Attach the top plates to the ceiling with 3″ deck screws driven into joists or beams, if possible. Make sure the top plates are aligned directly above the sole plates, with the framing member marks also in alignment.
Step IV: Install the Studs
2. Position and install the studs and posts at the marks on the top plates and the sole plates. Toenail them in place with 16d casing nails.
3. Install the 2 x 4 doorframes by nailing through the frames and into the ends of the sole plates.
Note: If the ledger board sticks out past the siding, work around it when installing the 2 x 4 end posts. Butt two 2 x 4s together so one fits between the floor and the ledger, with the edge against the wall. Toenail the other 2 x 4 into the top plate and sole plate, and nail it to the edge of the first 2 x 4.
Step V: Install the Spreaders
Cut 2 x 4 spreaders to fit between the studs and posts using a circular saw. Position the spreaders at the same height as the porch railing, then toenail them with 16d casing nails. The spreaders prevent framing members from warping and provide a nailing surface for screen retaining strips.
Step VI: Install the Door Header & Stop Molding
2. Nail door-stop molding to the inside faces of the doorframes and header. Recess the molding back from the outside edges of the doorframe to match the thickness of the door, so when the door closes, it is flush with the outside edges of the doorframe.
Step VII: Install the Door
1. Measure and mark the locations for the door hinges on the edge of the door. Mark at 12″ from the top of the door and 12″ from the bottom, then space the third hinge evenly between the two.
3. 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 doorframe.
4. Remove the door and cut mortises into the doorframe 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.
5. Set the door in the opening, and screw the hinges to the frame with 1″ wood screws.
6. Install desired door hardware, including a door pull, a closer or spring, a wind chain, a latch or lock, and a rubber door sweep for the bottom of the door, if desired. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for each piece of hardware.
Step VIII: Attach the Screen
1. Measure and mark centerlines along the inside faces of all studs and posts for reference lines when installing the screens.
3. Cut wooden retaining strips-for fastening the screens-to the width of the framework openings.
4. Begin attaching screens at the tops of the framework openings by securing them with the retaining strips. Attach the retaining strips with 1 1/4″ brass brads at 6 to 12″ intervals.
Step IX: Finish Securing the Screen
1. With a helper, pull the screen down until taut. Use a retaining strip (cut to the width of the opening) to press the screen against the reference line, then attach near the ends of the strip with 1 1/4″ brass brads.
3. Install screens in all remaining openings, then use a utility knife to trim the excess screening at the edges of the retaining strips.