I love to enjoy my first cup of coffee while sitting outside on my back porch. The summer air is peaceful and a little cool from the previous night and all around me, nature is waking cheerfully to meet the early morning sun. For many, the idea of a screen porch is appealing, especially for outdoor living enthusiasts. Screen rooms are a great way to enjoy the great outdoors while also enjoying the shelter, bug protection, and comfortable living they provide.
One of the things we find when people call in looking for someone to design and build their screen porch is that while they have a pretty good idea of what they want, they don’t know where to start or how much to budget for their project. And it’s no wonder when a quick Google search shows such wide a variety of kits from a hardware store, aluminum kits professionally installed, and custom designs that tie into your home.
In the world of custom design and build, knowing the elements that go into pricing a screen porch is helpful. Everything from the materials you choose to the roof style and foundation can greatly impact how much your screen porch will cost. As you look for a contractor you trust to build your new porch, keep these key components in mind.
Knowing the differences between material options will help you create a reasonable budget for your screen porch. The most common flooring materials we use are wood, composite decking, and pavers. Wood and pavers are usually comparable in price while you can expect to spend 50% or more for low maintenance materials like TimberTech and AZEK.
Window styles vary from the standard rolled screening that is left open year-round, to windows that include acrylic inserts for winter, to lightweight vertical 4-track systems, like Eze-Breeze. Eze-Breeze window systems give you the look, protection, and ease of windows. Their lightweight frames are easy to open at varying degrees, providing you with the warm, breezy feel of a screen porch while allowing you to customize the airflow.
Stain, paint, and trim are also important to consider among material options. Staining and painting must be maintained on a regular schedule, making this an important cost to include when considering what you’re comfortable investing overall. AZEK offers a low maintenance trim that gives screen porches a crisp, clean look. It is easy to clean, is impervious to moisture and insects, and comes with a 25-year warranty.
Amenities & Design
Including amenities allows you to customize your screen porch for your specific lifestyle needs. Most of our screen porches include some sort of electric. Standard electric options usually include a ceiling fan with a light, a couple of outlets, a light switch, and a coach light. Canned lights in the ceiling, cable hookups or wiring for sound systems are also popular options.
Fireplaces are a growing trend with Chicagoland screen porches, especially when 4-track window systems have been included in the design. Incorporating a fireplace allows homeowners to use their screen porch during the colder months, giving them the most use of their investment. A fireplace adds character to your screen porch design, is a great way to encourage people to gather and socialize, and without a doubt is the perfect place to curl up with a good book. Be aware, though, that a fireplace will substantially increase the total cost of your screen porch, often by close to $10,000.
Depending on where you live, the foundation required can be the biggest driver of cost. Most often we build our screen porches on pier footings. Pier footings are concrete cylinders placed in the ground to support your structure. Even the Sears Tower (ahem, I mean Willis Tower) was built on pier footings!
Here in the Midwest, we have a very distinct freeze and thaw cycle, and as such we construct our footings to be 42” deep and 18”-24” in diameter, putting them below the frost line. Comparatively, in the warm southern states, most can get away with building a screen porch on footings that are only 6” deep. We also use belled footings to prevent any uplift that may occur when the ground freezes, further protecting your project. Occasionally we run into a village that requires a trench foundation. A trench foundation is a solid wall of concrete, 42” deep (or where the frost line falls), that runs along the perimeter of the porch. Unfortunately, such a foundation can increase the cost of your project by $5,000-$10,000. Before designing your screen porch, we contact your village’s building department to determine their foundation requirements. This allows us to let you know in advance if their requirements will have a larger than expected impact on your project.
Even you’re the style of your screen porch’s roof can impact the total cost of your project. Usually, we tie into your existing roof, matching your existing roof style and color. The three common roof styles we use are a shed roof, gable roof (which is more than shed), and hip roof (which is more than gable). The gable roof is the most popular roof style among our clients as it opens up the room with cathedral ceilings. With your choice of roof style also comes ceiling choices. Exposed rafters cost less than enclosed rafters and can give a screened porch a beautiful rustic look.
More than Material
Another piece to consider is the work that goes into designing and building screened porches. At Archadeck, your skilled Design Consultant walks you through our design process so they can create a design that will meet your functional needs and aesthetic tastes. Our Production Team manages your project from start to finish. We have a Draftsman to structure your project so that is engineered to be structurally sound and meet code requirements. Our Permit Coordinator works with the surrounding village building departments and handles all of the necessary permitting for you. The team also schedules material deliveries and inspections, manages the crew building your project, and coordinates with you in an effort to disrupt your daily life as little as possible.
The Bottom Line
So when we put all of these components together, what does the cost of a screened porch come to? A price or estimate that falls in or around $20,000 – $50,000 would be reasonable for a professionally designed and built screen porch in the Chicagoland area. A good contractor will work with your budget. Our Design Consultants will let you know if it looks like your design might run higher than you planned and will discuss possible solutions in order to keep your design within your budget.
If you are considering adding a screened porch or other outdoor living space to your backyard, we’d love to hear from you! Give us a call at (847) 250-4100 or sign up today for a Complimentary Design Consultation.