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To Screen or Not to Screen – That is the Question for your Des Moines-area Porch

Published on July 6th, 2019.

Custom open porch Open Porches – or Covered Decks and Patios – have been our most popular and in-demand project over the past several years in Central Iowa. Our clients desire more functionality and features in these spaces, often featuring low-maintenance, wood-alternative decking, railing and trim products, fireplaces, lighting, outdoor kitchens and outdoor TV’s / audio systems, both inside and outside of the porch. I’d like to think Archadeck – as a national leader in the development of outdoor living spaces – has had some influence on this growing trend. Even many home builders are integrating these types of spaces into their floor plans of new construction homes. Copy cats.

Custom screened porch and deck Lately, though, we’re seeing increasing interest in Screen Porches. Open Porches are still the most popular but the addition of a screen system is appealing to more and more of our Des Moines area clients. Nearly all the functions and features noted above for open porches can be incorporated into a screened porch, with added benefits of fewer insects, more protection from the elements of nature and the increased coziness and privacy that screen systems provide.

Which leads me to the question: Why the increasing interest in Screen Porches? Here’s what I see and hear in the backyards of Central Iowa:

  • Mosquitos and other Pesky Insects. Lets face it…its raining more. The last 12 months were the wettest 12 months on record in Iowa. And when it rains, it rains harder…water is left standing in pools longer, humidity is higher and more breeding grounds for mosquitos and other insects are created.
  • People. Lets face it…people are unique. Some people are more sensitive to mosquitos and insects than others. Some people are more sensitive to privacy and sun, rain, and wind protection than others. Some people prefer open space, others prefer screening, others completely enclosed.
  • Builders and New Construction. Lets face it…(most*) builders don’t get “outdoor living.” For one, most new home outdoor spaces are (still) too small and don’t accommodate the functionality and features folks want in their outdoor living spaces. For two, not many of these spaces (even the “good” ones) are getting screened in when the home is being built.
  • Cool Cats. Lets face it…there is no happier cat than a cat that has a screen porch. Our clients are cool cats.

Cats and screened porches

Screen Porches can be trimmed and finished in a varying array of styles – from a rustic cabin look and feel to a room finished to the styling of the exterior and/or interior of the home. Our Des Moines area screen porches have been done at both extremes and nearly every level in between. Our screen porch photo gallery provides some inspiration in regards to what you might like for your home; check it out.

Custom outdoor fireplace The addition of a heat source into a porch – either open or screened, can extend usage both earlier and later into Central Iowa’s seasons (whatever they are now) and start to blur the lines between screen porches and 3-season rooms. Fireplaces have become popular features as a result and we’ve also done a few porches with fixed Infrared Heating systems; Infratech, for example. Stand-alone Fire Pit Tables and Heaters can also serve to heat a porch.

As open porches started being integrated into new construction homes over the years, we find that many of those homeowners ultimately wish their porches were screened in. So much of the increased interest in screen porches we are seeing is from folks who have an open porch and would like to convert it into a screened-in porch. Here are some before-and-after views of such a tailor-made (note: not all are so tailor-made) conversion project we recently completed southeast of Des Moines near Yellow Banks Park outside of Pleasant Hill.

Before and after screened porch and deck

Before and after interior of screened porch

While we get many of these screen porch conversion requests of late, to-date, none of them have come from our own clients for whom we’ve previously designed and built an open porch. I think this speaks to the collaborative, custom design approach we take with our clients. We work to understand our clients’ uniqueness, their sensitivities and their functional and aesthetic desires and needs relative to their outdoor living spaces. And, of course, we know our clients are cool cats…whether they have a screen porch or not.

Archadeck process chart Starting with our complimentary design consultation, and thru the remainder of our design process, we’ll answer the question “To Screen or Not to Screen?” (and many more questions). If a porch isn’t what (or the only thing) you want for your Central Iowa home – maybe an open deck or patio, maybe with a pergola or a fire pit, then many other questions and answers will come into play. As we design it. Before we build it.

In other words…Better Building by Design.

Go Outside and Play! Like a cool cat!

Harold Cross

  • - Don’t get me wrong builders, I have respect and empathy. I know the challenges you face and I know our focuses are necessarily (?) different, particularly those of you who build on “speculation” and/or are otherwise only guessing at what a buyer wants in/from their outdoor spaces. I also understand budget and practicality perspectives, the “bones” and indoor spaces of a new home are typically going to take precedence over the outdoor spaces. Archadeck is here to fill that void as it makes sense for the homeowner.