Affordable Screened Porch
“In Maine, when the weather’s nice, everyone wants to be outside,” says Phil Kaplan, a successful Portland-based architect. That’s why, when Kaplan and his wife, Masey, a graphic designer, set out five years ago to build a new home in nearby Falmouth, a screened-in porch was a must.
But given the couple’s other construction costs, so was finding an inexpensive way to build it. The solution: a 12×14-foot space incorporating 13 stock screens from The Home Depot at $26 apiece, instead of custom-built versions that could easily have cost 10 times as much.
The savings commenced with the use of a pair of 10-inch-diameter Sonotube forms ($200) to set the foundation pillars. From there, builder Wes Myer, who handled much of the house construction, laid down a base structure supported by four 2×12-inch pressure-treated beams. “It’s pretty meaty stuff,” Phil quips.
The same can be said of the room’s two 8×8-inch corner posts, which the architect salvaged, along with other design elements, from an 18th-century barn in Wells, Maine. Concerned that the screens’ relatively short height — they’re a standard 80 inches tall — might lop off the surrounding view, Phil designed a 7-inch-wide sill to set them on, pushing the screens closer to the porch’s 8-1/2-foot ceiling. “The last thing we wanted was to cut off the sight of the trees,” he says.
Nor did he want the space, complete with red-cedar floorboards, to be just a summer destination. Around each of the 2×6-inch interior columns running floor to ceiling between screens is a three-sided pine cap, attached via a pair of 2-inch steel screws. Pop the caps off, take the screens out, insert storm windows, and you’ve got yourself a three-season porch.
Approximately $10,000 for materials and labor
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST?
“That’s a no-brainer,” Phil says. “It’s the view. It emphasizes the connection to the outdoors. You feel as if you’re part of the trees.”