Perfect for lounging in the summer and cuddling up in the winter, screened-in porches allow homeowners to utilize the outdoors year round. Whether the screen is fixed or motorized, screened-in porches protect their inhabitants from pesky bugs, stormy weather and harsh sunlight. Once solely relegated to the American South, screened-in porches have made their way North and West over the last few decades. Today, they can be found nestled in the Pacific Northwest, on a hill in Martha’s Vineyard or surrounded by desert in Joshua Tree. No matter where one finds a screened-in porch, unparalleled views to nature and a feeling of true, tranquil escape is practically guaranteed. Follow below for twelve of our favorite screened-in porch ideas, more about the growing trend and how to decorate your own!

What is the Difference between A Sunroom and a Screened Porch?

Though screened porches and sunrooms serve similar purposes, they do differ somewhat -- both in use and in architecture. Revision Design / Remodeling explain the primary differences between sunrooms and screened porches in their post “Screened In Porch vs. Three-or-Four Season Rooms: How to Choose.” The post outlines “the strict definition of a screened in porch [as] a roofed structure with a screened enclosure that makes it open to the elements.” Screened porches are often added to an already built home later on -- as a renovation or remodeling project. Because they are created off of an existing base -- either a deck, foundation, patio or balcony -- screened porches are typically less expensive to build than are sunrooms. Sunrooms are true additions to a home -- just like a kitchen, living room or playroom. They are often compared to or equated with the indoor cabanas found in mid century bungalows.

Revision Design / Remodeling identifies the primary difference between sunrooms and screened-in porches as the permanence and build of the space. The post explains that “unlike screened porches, three- and four-season rooms use glass, insulation, siding or brick, and HVAC.” These elements allow the sunroom to function as a true addition to the home -- an extra living space with incredible light exposure but zero weather exposure. Because sunrooms are so well-integrated within the home, they “come at a higher level of investment” than do screened-in porches. Both are designed to enhance indoor-outdoor living for homeowners and guests. Given that screened porches can be equipped with a motorized screen and sunrooms often feature sliding glass doors, both are incredibly versatile from season to season. However, one might prefer to spend winters in a sunroom rather than a screened-in porch unless that porch boasts a wood-burning stove, fireplace or other heating system.

Cost Comparison Between Sunrooms and Screened-In Porches

Sunrooms Cost Homeowners More to Build and Maintain

As for price of purchase, cost of installation and maintenance expenditure, the two do differ substantially. Because cost will vary depending on chosen building materials, weather conditions and customizations, estimates fluctuate somewhat from source to source. In their article “Sunrooms vs. Full-Room Additions” for The Spruce, Lee Wallender and Kelly Bacon suggest homeowners budget between $15,000 for wooden kits and $22,000 for glass and aluminum kits. Paying a professional designer and build team to create a sunroom for the homeowner costs quite a bit more, but ensures that the job is completed properly and the sunroom blends in with the rest of the house flawlessly.

The HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide “Sunroom Addition Prices” cautions against a DIY approach, noting that “mistakes can threaten structural integrity, posing danger to anyone in the room.” Homeowners considering constructing their own sunrooms should also budget for delays, as “the build might take longer [due to] lack of experience.” Furthermore, “lower quality construction might require investing in the cost of sunroom repairs in the future” and a warranty might not be applicable to the structure if one forgoes the use of a trained builder or licensed contractor.

A Porch Screen Costs Less -- Even When Built from Foundation to Finishes

Even when custom-designed, screened-in porches cost quite a bit less than sunrooms while performing very similar functions. The only time during which costs might compound is if a wrap-around porch must be built from the ground up. Even in the case of custom, foundation-to-finishes design, screened-in porches often cost less than sunrooms, which would require similar -- if not more complex -- planning, permitting, design and construction. In her article “4 Ways to Save When Adding on a Screened-In Porch” for House Beautiful, Hadley Mendelsohn writes that “a wrap-around porch that contains windows and screens can run up to a maximum of $30,000” if the homeowner is starting from scratch.

Generally -- however -- screened-in porches cost quite a bit less than this $30k maximum. The HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide “How Much Does a Screened-In Porch Cost?” estimates the average cost to build a screened-in porch ringing in between “$2,000 to $2,800” for a 200 square foot porch, or between $25 to $120 per square foot” once the screens, flooring and other elements have been installed. This amount does not include design services or professional construction.

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Screened-In Porch

#1 Upholster with Performance Fabrics to Protect Against Spills and Mildew on Your Screen Porch

In her article “8 Tips for Choosing the Best Patio Furniture for Your Outdoor Space” for Better Homes & Gardens, Jessica Bennett emphasizes the importance of choosing durable, washable performance fabrics for screened porch furniture. Because screened porches are partially protected from the elements, furniture chosen for these semi-outdoor spaces will require less maintenance than patio or deck furniture. However, children bouncing in from the pool or sweaty guests barbecuing during the summer can still degrade delicate upholstery and materials. As such, Bennett recommends “metal, teak, cedar, and all-weather wicker” furniture because such pieces “are unfazed by whatever nature throws their way.”

She suggests accessorizing armchairs and lounges with “outdoor cushions and pillows with removable covers that can be easily tossed in the washing machine.” For performance fabrics, consider the advice of Marisa Spyker in her article “10 Gorgeous Fabrics You Wouldn’t Know Are Outdoor-Friendly” for Southern Living. Spyker recommends all-weather textiles like those by Holly Hunt, Perennials Fabrics and Sunbrella. Commonly used materials in products from such companies include acrylic -- with water and stain repellent coatings -- and polypropylene fabrics. According to Perennials, acrylic fabrics are some of the best for humidity and extreme weather as they are “mildew- and mold-resistant, bleach cleanable and easily maintained.”

#2 Invest in Quality Screens to Ensure Longevity and Protection from Bugs

In his article “Screening Rooms: Screened porches don't have to be ordinary” for This Old House, Pete Goode emphasizes the importance of choosing a long-wearing, perfectly transparent and bug-resistant screen for your screened porch. He outlines the various construction and materials options in the article as well, discussing everything from aluminum and bronze to stainless steel and copper. Goode notes that “a fiberglass screen is by far the cheapest (15 cents per square foot).” Despite its low cost, fiberglass is long-wearing, “won't rust and it looks good as long as it's handled with care.” However, “strength is not one of its assets,” so fiberglass screens are not recommended for high-wind or extreme weather regions.

Aluminum is much stronger than fiberglass -- as much as thirty or forty percent stronger --, making it very popular for screened porches. However, shiny aluminum screens “tend to show glare in bright sun.” As such, matte-coated varieties have become more popular in recent years because they are “almost invisible when you look from the inside out.” Stainless steel is the most expensive option but will not degrade due to salt spray from the ocean, though it will get hot in the summer. Overall, Goode recommends either a specialty screen like those made from vinyl-coated polyester or those made from bronze because both are long-wearing, attractive and “good for hot climates.” No matter which type of screen is chosen, homeowners should keep an eye on the framing to ensure visibility is not hampered.

#3 Work with a Design-Build Firm to Avoid Costly Mistakes

The HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide “How Much Does a Screened-In Porch Cost?” notes that opting for a custom-designed screened porch rather than a kit construction will cost more. However, the screened in porch will last longer and match the existing home much more effectively than if it had been built by an untrained amateur with little experience.  The Investopedia article “Hiring a Contractor vs. DIY: Cost – Benefits” notes that inexperienced homeowners might end up spending much more in the future fixing their mistakes. Furthermore, local and state laws might require the help of a professional in order to secure permitting or pass inspection upon completion of the porch.

As explained in the post, “home experts advise hiring a professional for any project requiring a special permit and/or building code compliance.” Some work on screened porches -- particularly the addition of a fireplace or HVAC system -- “may also require special licenses, depending on the region in which you live,” making hiring a professional builder a necessity. Even if hiring a professional is not required by law, overconfidence in one’s abilities could end up creating an unsafe environment for family and guests -- as well as taking quite a bit longer to build.

#4 Opt for a Fireplace or Wood-Burning Stove to Stay Warm

Though it can be difficult to safely add an outdoor fireplace, wood-burning stove or fire pit dining table to a screened-in porch that has already been built, it is fairly easy to equip a screened porch with such a feature early on in the design. With the aid of a design-build firm, a fireplace and mantle can easily be incorporated into the porch’s design without any safety risks. According to the post “Fireplaces for Screened Porches and Sunrooms” from Owings Brothers Contracting, “you can install a fireplace for your screened in porch at any time, but it is most advantageous to do so when designing and adding the space to your home.” Adding a fireplace or wood burning stove to the initial plans of the design process will “afford you unlimited options on the size and design and it is usually less expensive.” Regardless of price, equipping a screened in porch with heating is usually well worth it. The post notes that “fireplaces for screened porches or sunrooms can bring wonderful ambiance and be a stunning focal point.” They also extend the use of the screened porch and the “outdoor living season into the cooler days of spring and fall,” allowing homeowners and guests to enjoy the view offered by their property well into the winter.

#5 Prioritize the View When Designing the Floor Plan and Placing Furniture

The functionality of a screened-in porch is -- of course -- its most important feature. As such, experts recommend prioritizing the view from your porch when choosing a construction spot, designing the floor plan and placing furniture. In her article “Four Factors to Consider When Adding a Screened-In Porch to Your Home” for MarthaStewart.com, Blythe Copeland suggests first considering how creating a screened-in porch might “change your entrances, exits, and windows.” Quoting Jeff Rossen of Rossen Landscape, Copeland writes that "’you want to have a place where it won't negatively impact your view...or else come to terms with the fact that you're going to be looking out the living room window into a screened-in porch.’" To ensure maximum visibility from both the screened-in porch and from rooms above or below, Jeff Rossen and Blythe Copeland recommend “placing it behind your home and to the side.” This orientation ensures “optimized flow” between interior spaces and the porch -- as well as from the porch to the outdoors.

15 Irresistible Views to Nature

#1 A-Frame Screen Porch

A-Frames are all the rage right now amongst the tiny house crowd and those hoping to escape the humdrum of city life. We love this screened porch from Twin Construction -- a building firm in Homewood, Alabama. The warm, unfinished wood of the ceiling set against the matte black metal of the porch’s frame makes for a stunning juxtaposition. Indoor-outdoor transitional furniture like a woven wicker sectional and stone coffee table create a gorgeous yet understated array when set against the home’s woodland views.

#2 Rustic Screen Porch

This rustic vogue screened porch is absolutely stunning. Described by the home’s listing agent -- Megan Manly -- as “one of the dreamiest screened in porches [she’s] seen,” the porch boasts a gas fireplace, ceiling heaters, and fans. As such, the porch can easily be used all year round. An adorable swing, series of mounted lanterns and other “rustic accents make you feel like you’re vacationing in the mountains” while situated in the Lockeland Springs suburbs. Click through all the pictures to get a real feel of this stunning space.

#3 Travel-Inspired Screen Porch

This travel-inspired porch is certainly reviving our wanderlust! With its arched windows, black roof, dozens of potted plants, well-stocked bar and cane furniture, this porch designed by Elena Phillips Interiors screams holiday abroad.

#4 Nautical New-England Screen Porch

With a gorgeous pendant light reminiscent of a lobster trap or crab cage, a beautiful living edge coffee table and neutral color scheme, this porch echoes the easy-breezy vibe of nautical New England. Designed by Terri Ricci Interiors, this transitional space offers a cozy -- yet contemporary -- spot to gather with friends and family no matter what the season.

#5 Minimalist Screen Porch

This minimalist screened porch in Austin, Texas lets the incredible lake and wooded views have all the attention. Designed by Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architect  and installed by Risinger Build in the Gulf, this minimalist screened porch is light on distractions but heavy on style.

#6 Southern Charm Screen Porch

This light and bright screened porch built by Express Sunrooms offers a charming swing settee, opulent gold and glass table and lovely cutouts along the ceiling and bannister below. We particularly love the delicate shadows cast on the floor from outside the porch.

#7 Grandmillennial Screen Porch

We love this boho meets granny chic screen porch by Calendar Construction in Charleston, West Virginia. The porch’s woven egg-shaped swing, black and white multi-patterned rug and cane armchairs correspond perfectly to the Grandmillennial trend.

#8 Farmhouse Screen Porch

Lovers of shiplap, dried reeds and all-white interiors will adore this porch rendered in a classic farmhouse style. Featured in Southern Living, this porch truly represents outdoor-indoor living with three bunk beds for visiting friends or grandchildren. High backed skirted armchairs with navy piping and a delicate coffee table that looks torn from a Queen Anne home, this porch is perfect for farmhouses and period homes around the country.

#9 Coastal Screen Porch

When executed poorly with a jumble of beach-themed decor objects, coastal interiors can come off as tacky rather than elegant or sophisticated. This porch -- however -- manages to incorporate thematic elements like a sky blue ceiling, striped rug, sea glass jugs and natural furniture without feeling overdone.

#10 Mountain Cabin Screen Porch

If the mountains and forests of cabin life are calling you away for a few days in the woods, look no further than this gorgeous mountain cabin porch. Romantic ambient lighting from string lights reveals the character of roughly hewn furniture and vintage textiles. Of course -- the surrounding greenery is the best part!

#11 Tropical Paradise Screen Porch

Even if your home is far from the Florida Keys or the jungles of the Amazon, find a touch of paradise in this stunning tropical-themed porch. We love how the owner carpeted the entire porch -- establishing the space as a second living room. Every piece of furniture and decor object worships nature -- from the rattan chairs to the slatted wood bench. The many prints and textures intermix perfectly throughout the space.

#12 Moody Screen Porch

Perhaps the most unusual porch on our list, this moody space by Jean Stoffer Design offers visitors a luxe, high-gloss black ceiling complimented by an antique rug below. Living plants infuse the space with vitality while velvet chairs, gold accents and Art Deco-inspired furnishings add texture and dimension.

Designing Your Screened-In Porch with Element Homes

As mentioned above, creating your home’s screened-in porch with licensed professionals speeds up the process, ensures everything is built to code and eliminates safety concerns common in DIY projects. Enlisting the services of a design-build firm like Element Homes reduces stress on the homeowner, eliminates the need to shop around for materials and guarantees the homeowner’s vision is achieved for the build. Working with a custom design company like Element Homes allows homeowners to sit back while their dream screened-in porch is designed to perfectly mesh with their home’s existing design scheme. With interior design professionals on staff, homeowners can rest assured that their screened-in porch will offer the ideal degree of indoor-outdoor living -- complementing the rest of their home while standing on its own as an incredible entertainment and lounge space.

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