By: Danny Lipford
Enclosing an existing covered porch with screen simply requires you to build a stud wall or walls along the open sides to create surfaces for attaching the screen. The walls are constructed from pressure-treated 2x4s, which we primed and painted ahead of time.
Since most patios slope for drainage, the height of the studs may not be consistent, so measure each one separately. Stack the two horizontal 2x4s that will form for the top and bottom plates of the wall on the patio. Measure from the top of them to the beam and determine the height of each stud, at each location.
Because of its length, we build the long wall in two pieces with the seams in the top and bottom plates offset from each other. We build the walls on the ground so we can nail the studs to the plates from the top and bottom, so fewer nails are visible. Once we lift each wall into position it must adjusted so that the offset from the outside of the beam is consistent and the studs are all perfectly plumb, or vertical.
Now the wall can be secured to the beam and adjoining walls with nails. To secure the base plate to the concrete slab we use a powder-actuated nail gun. The weight of the beams above will be spread out over the length of this long wall so with it in place, we can lower the jack and remove the temporary post.
The shorter wall will include a screen door and the size of that opening will depend on the size of the screen door being used. Make the opening 3/8 of inch wider and taller than the door itself.
The horizontal board above the door is called the header and we’re leaving one side of ours loose until the wall is installed. This allows us to level it in place, rather than position it with measurements.
When both walls are complete, we add more horizontal pieces between each stud at about 36 inches off the floor. This stiffens the frame and will give extra support to the screen material over a long span. We use 36 inch wide screen, so we’ve spaced our studs to allow for about an inch of overlap on each side.
Installing the screen is as simple as rolling it out over each open space and stapling it every few inches along all sides. The important thing is to avoid wrinkles without pulling the screen so tightly that it stretches out of shape. To cover the staples we nail up treated wooden lattice strips along the edge of each stud. These are also pre-primed and painted like the studs, to minimize painting with the screens in place.
Once the screen door is installed in the door opening the room is complete. Watch the video for detailed instructions.