Screened-in porches provide a lovely touch to any home, and they’re an excellent way to maximize your outdoor living space. However, many homeowners end up asking the same question about these additions: How can I comfortably utilize this space year-round? If you’re considering renovations to your screened-in porch or are looking to create one from scratch, here are a few tips and tricks for ensuring the area is usable, even when the temperature drops and the wind blows.
The Two Keys to Comfort
With any screen porch enclosure, two critical elements help maximize the usability of the space: a heating component and a means to block the wind.
Adding a heating element helps combat chilly temperatures and makes the space pleasant and comfortable, even during late autumn and early spring. The heating system you select depends on your physical space, your desired aesthetic, and how you plan to use the porch enclosure, but these three choices are the most common outdoor heating options:
- Infrared heat lamps: These lamps can be placed strategically around your outdoor area to heat the entire space. Rather than simply heating the ambient air, each lamp actually warms anything in its radius. This means you’re heated, not just the air around you.
- Natural wood-burning fireplace: One of the more aesthetically traditional heating options is a wood-burning fireplace. This is great for anyone who loves the authentic crackle of wood and has the means and desire to acquire fuel and then to build each fire from scratch.
- Gas fireplace: Whether standalone or contained in a fire wall, a gas fireplace is more convenient than a wood-burning option. It’s often a more contemporary look, though, so you’ll have to gauge how well this fits into your existing design scheme.
Once you’ve gotten heat within the outdoor space, you’ll want a way to contain it, and that often means a wind block of some variety. A total wind block is most effective, but even a partial block provides benefits.
- Privacy walls: With a privacy wall, you’re essentially closing in one wall of your screened-porch. The position of that wall will be determined by the wind patterns experienced in your outdoor living area. In addition to heat-related benefits, you also get added privacy within your porch.
- Vinyl window system: Effective at keeping the wind at bay, these systems look most seamless and appealing when they’re low and used without rails. Check out the options from Eze-Breeze and similar companies.
- Retractable window system: These motorized systems, available from companies such as Phantom, can completely close in a space when it’s cold and then retract fully in the heat for an open-air experience.
- Glass wall system: With this system, you’re installing large glass panels that slide across a track. If you’re farther north and require more protection from the elements, a glass wall system can be a stunning, as well as functional, design addition. Note, however, that the cost factor here is significant.
If you want to use your screened-in porch year round, it’s best to invest in both a heating option and a wind block. With this combination, there’s no reason a screened-in porch in an area like the Mid-Atlantic shouldn’t be fully enjoyed year round!