I recently met with a potential Archadeck customer who was having a tough time determining if they should build a deck or a screened porch on their house in a western Twin Cities suburb. Although budget was somewhat of a consideration, she was more concerned about making the right call for the needs of herself and her family today and for the future. After we discussed the pros and cons, it seemed clear that there were 5 key things (excluding price) that were central to her in this decision (roughly in order of priority).
1. Fair weather vs. All weather
The most obvious implication of choosing a screened porch over a deck is the presence of a roof. Although a screened porch doesn’t give much additional insulation against cold weather, it provides plenty of protection from rain and inclement weather in the warmer months of the year. If you are someone who likes to read a book outside with the summer rain pattering on the porch roof, an uncovered deck may not be for you.
2. Pesky pests
This may not be as big a deal in other parts of the U.S., but many a pleasant summer evening in Minnesota has been entirely ruined by the arrival of a seemingly endless arsenal of our unofficial state bird, the pesky mosquito. The addition of three screened walls, a roof and screening underneath the deck floor can be the difference between summer evening splendor and an uninvited and unwanted blood-letting .
3. House design /roof tie-in considerations
This is something that many prospective porch-building customers don’t factor in until they have a professional consult with them on the project. While it is true that a roofed porch CAN be added to most styles of homes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it SHOULD be, at least from a design and aesthetic standpoint. The roof line of your existing house, the location where the new roof would connect and the height/location of current door and window openings will greatly influence your options for a screened porch, both from integration of design and for watershed direction/flow from the various roof levels.
4. Space limitations / Ancillary usage
The specific functional needs that you and your family require for the new structure must not be overlooked. If you love to grill and entertain large groups or if you have teenagers that need a great suntanning spot for themselves and their friends, then adequate uncovered deck space must be in your project plan. This doesn’t necessarily preclude the addition of a roofed structure, but the design and budget should be developed to accommodate a “dual-use” deck + porch project.
5. Longer-term needs /Potential resale
The final factor involves the future considerations for what you build on your house right now. Whether it’s due to budget or uncertainty about what your future needs will be, you will be well-served to project your most likely scenario 10 years from now for the house you currently own. This may lead you to a different decision about constructing a deck vs. a porch than if the only criteria you use are immediate in nature. (For additional information on investment payback, See Remodeling Magazine’s 2010 Cost vs.Value Report for North Central U.S.) An example of how you can “hedge your bets” to account for this future need are to build a deck with footings and framing that are designed/engineered to support the later addition of a screened porch structure if you choose to do so.