Porches can add a lot of charm and coziness to a home, whether they're in the front or the back of the house. A porch is inviting to guests and a great place for everyone to hang out. Often considered an extension of the home's living space, the porch is where we spend our lazy summer afternoons, enjoy dinner alfresco or curl up in a cozy chair to sit and watch nature. Whether formal or more rustic in decor, the porch is meant for leisure and relaxation.
But when considering screened porches vs. open porches, which one is best? Both open porches and screened porches have their benefits and downsides, and it's important to consider all of these pros and cons before you decide. The trends for porch styles have changed over the years, with open porches more popular some years and screened porches more desirable other years. Ultimately, it's up to you to choose which one will be better for your situation. Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of screened porches and open porches so you can choose the right porch for your home.
Pros of a Screened Porch
Screened porches offer the perfect compromise between indoor and outdoor living spaces. The screens offer some protection from some of the elements, but you can still enjoy the fresh air and gentle breezes, as well as the outdoor views. The main pros of screened porches include:
- Protection from bugs: If mosquitos, flies or other pests are a common problem where you live, a screened porch can provide protection while allowing you to use your porch any time of the day or night. You and your family or guests can avoid mosquitos, gnats and other biting or stinging insects, as well as annoying bugs that like to fly around and land in your food.
- Protection from animals: The screens are also enough of a barrier to keep out raccoons, squirrels, opossums, rats or any other small critters common in your neighborhood. There's no need to worry about animals making a mess or getting into your food left on the table when your porch is all screened.
- A cleaner porch: While the screens won't keep out all of the dirt and dust, they help keep out debris like leaves and twigs that can easily blow into an open porch. The screens may also block some of the pollen and other airborne matter that can coat an open porch and all of the furniture on it.
- Shelter from the elements: While you are not as protected as you would be indoors from more extreme conditions, the roof over a screened porch provides shade from the hot sun and helps shelter the porch from rain, although some may get in with higher winds. If you choose to fully enclose your porch with glass windows as well as screens, you have even more protection from rain, snow and extreme temperatures.
- Greater flexibility: Because of the extra protection that a screened porch provides, you have more flexibility in how you decorate and use the space. Your furniture and other belongings are more protected, and you can make the space more comfortable and decorate however you like. A fully enclosed porch gives you even more options with decor and electronics to finish your outdoor living space and make it an enjoyable room for many seasons. You can place TVs, stereo equipment and fun lighting on your enclosed screened porch without worrying about your electronics being ruined by the weather.
- Enjoy your porch more throughout the year: With all of the protections a screened porch provides, you can enjoy it even in the rain or during a hot, sunny day. Many people add fireplaces or space heaters to a screened porch to extend their season during cooler temperatures.
Types of Porch Screens
When it comes to the actual screens protecting your porch, you have several options to choose from for screen material. Here are the most common types of screens readily available:
- Fiberglass: One of the most common types of screens, fiberglass is also one of the most affordable on the list. It's easy to work with and won't show creases like some other types. However, it is more prone to stretching, ripping and tearing. Fiberglass screens are generally available in black, grey and charcoal colors, with black offering the most protection from glare.
- Aluminum: Another common material for screening is aluminum. While it is a little more expensive than fiberglass, aluminum screens are more durable. Due to their rigidity, aluminum screens are slightly harder to install and are at risk of creases and dents. Aluminum screens also come in black, grey and charcoal, and black screens have the best visibility.
- Premium metal: Other metals, such as copper, stainless steel, bronze and other alloys, can also be used to make screens. These screens are more expensive but add a lovely touch to an upscale screened porch with their more unusual, softer colors. Premium metal screens are very durable and long-lasting and stand up well in coastal climates.
- Sun-control: While all screens block some sunlight, there are also specialized screens that block up to 90% of the sun's heat. Sun-control screens are a great choice for homes in hot and sunny climates, as the screens can keep out much more of the heat. These screens still allow for plenty of natural light to pass through and offer good visibility as well.
- Pet-resistant: Anyone with dogs, cats or even small children knows how all of these lovable beings can spell trouble for the delicate screens on porches. Special pet-resistant screens are much stronger than standard mesh screens. This type of screen tends to be more expensive and has a slightly lower level of visibility but offers superior protection from active pets and young children. A good compromise is to use pet-resistant screens on lower levels and a different type of screen above.
Cons of a Screened Porch
While there are many benefits of a screened porch for homeowners, there are also some negative aspects to consider too. When you're deciding whether to add screens to your porch, keep these cons of screened porches in mind:
- Added costs: Adding screens to any porch is generally more expensive than leaving it open. The prices will vary depending on how large your porch is and what type of screen material you choose, but a screened porch typically costs more than an open porch. The costs come from the materials and the labor to install the screens as well. A large screened porch can be quite labor-intensive and add considerably to the overall cost of the home.
- More limited views: A huge part of why we like to spend time on our porches is the views. Visibility is a significant consideration if your home has sweeping views of mountains, forests or the seaside. Screens can impede the level of visibility a little, depending on the screen material that you use. If watching nature is especially important to you, screens might not be the way to go for your porch. Also, consider how your home will look with screens on the porch. If the porch is in the front of the house, screening it in can affect how the home looks and its overall curb appeal.
- Higher maintenance costs: Screens add another element to your porch that needs to be cleaned and maintained. Over time, screens can become damaged and may need repairs or replacements. You may spend more time and money maintaining screened porches than for open porches.
Pros of an Open Porch
An open porch is an inviting addition to any home and has many benefits. The most commonly cited pros of having an open porch include:
- Unimpeded views: If you mainly use your porch to enjoy all the sights of nature, an open porch is the way to go. Whether you have beautiful views of the coastline, rolling hills or urban wildlife, an open porch is the best way to ensure nothing obstructs the gorgeous vista. If you enjoy using binoculars or cameras from your porch to see and capture the details of birds, landscapes or even ships out at sea, you won't have to worry about screens getting in the way or ruining your photos.
- Lower overall cost: When you're building a new home or thinking about adding a porch, an open porch is generally less expensive than adding a screened porch. The screens require more building materials as well as extra labor for the installation. You can keep your overall costs lower by choosing an open porch.
- Easier maintenance: Without screens to take care of, it's easier to maintain your open porch. You won't have to worry about sagging, dented or torn screens. You'll also save money not having to repair and replace screens regularly.
- Great curb appeal: While both open and screened porches are attractive to home buyers, an open porch shows the home's architecture better and looks more welcoming. It's easier to see the details and decor of the porch, like patio furniture or planters, without screens in the way.
Cons of an Open Porch
Open porches are gorgeous additions to any home, but there are a few downsides to this porch style that you should consider as well. Take into account these cons of an open porch before deciding:
- Less protection from the elements: Many open porches have some covering overhead and offer some protection from weather elements like sunshine and rain. However, without any screens or windows, more sunlight, rain and snow can come in through the sides. The wind can also blow more leaves, dirt and debris onto the porch, meaning you may have to sweep and clean up the porch more often.
- No protection from pests: If bugs are a common problem in your area, an open porch will not protect you from these annoying pests. Without screens, you will be at the mercy of mosquitos, flies and other bugs that can hamper your enjoyment of the porch. It's also easier for small critters like squirrels to come onto the porch and help themselves to any food that's left out.
- Less allergy-friendly: Screens can help keep out some of the dust and pollen in the air that can aggravate allergies. An open porch will let in more of these airborne nuisances. It can also mean that you may need to clean your porch furniture and decor more often due to the extra dust and pollen that can settle on the porch.
- Shorter porch seasons: Because open porches provide less protection from the elements, the season for enjoying your porch may be shorter. Screens and windows can help extend the season as they make a porch a more comfortable place to be, even when the weather isn't so perfect.
How to Choose the Right Porch
There is no right or wrong answer to what type of porch is best. It will depend on your situation, house plan, preferences and priorities. Think about how you will use your porch to determine what style will work for your home and family. If it's difficult to decide which type of porch is better for you, there are also some ways to get the best of both.
Some homeowners choose an open porch in the front of the house and a screened porch in the back. This layout offers the best features of both types of porches and adds extra outdoor living spaces to the home. Or perhaps a wraparound porch would work best with your home's style, and you can choose to enclose just part of the porch with screens and leave the rest open. Another solution is to use sliding doors and windows that can be closed to keep out the elements and opened when you want more fresh air or better views.
Let SK Builders Help You Design Your Home
Whether you choose to build a screened porch, an open porch or both, turn to SK Builders for help with your overall home design. We've been helping homeowners realize their dreams since 1994 and can help you cusutomize the home that's perfect for you. Our expert team will walk you through every step of the design and home building process for your new construction home. Call SK Builders at 864-292-0400 or contact us online today to get started on your new home.