Planning to Enclose Your Patio, Porch, or Deck

enclosed backyard patio
  • 3-10 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-1000
What You'll Need
Building permits
Sketch paper and drawing materials
Architect's drawings
What You'll Need
Building permits
Sketch paper and drawing materials
Architect's drawings

An open porch, patio, or deck is a great place to spend time relaxing with your family and friends or having a quiet moment to yourself. Unfortunately, it can only be used when the weather is cooperating.

There are several benefits that come from enclosing your porch, patio, or deck. While protection from inclement weather would probably rank at the top of many homeowners' list of reasons, there are others. Have mosquitoes ever chased you inside on an otherwise beautiful summer night? A screened porch eliminates the bug issue, and a porch that is framed-in and has windows installed can, with a little extra work and expense, become an all-season room.

Enclosing your outside space is a quick way for you to add usable square footage to the living area of your home.

Step 1 – Research Building Permits in Your Area

Before you begin planning your new outdoor space, you should research what building permits are required in your area. Although this is a step that you might easily look over, it’s important that you take this step seriously. If you do not get the proper permits and follow local regulations, you could have trouble selling the home, or worse, have legal repercussions.

Step 2 – Begin Sketching Your Outdoor Room

The first step is to develop a plan. Sit down with a sheet of paper and make a rough sketch of what you want the enclosure to look like. Then, begin to think through some details as you draw it.

Some questions to keep in mind include the following: Do you want a screened-in porch or a weather-tight room with windows? What do you want to do for a roof? Will it be a simple, angled roof that just goes up along the side of the house, or do you want to make it look a little nicer by fashioning a hipped roof?

If you are going to close it in completely, start thinking about windows and what style you think you want. Do you want a lot of glass? If you just want to screen it in, what kind of supports do you want to use for the roof? You can frame in rough, open walls that will be finished with screen, or you can use decorative columns for support. Draw several different pictures, and use them to decide exactly how you want to use your space.

Step 3 – Choose Your Framing and Structure

The way you frame the walls of your enclosure will be determined by the style of roof you choose. Unless you are comfortable with planning load distribution, it is a good idea to have an architect draw this up for you. This is especially important if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow in the winter. Wet snow is heavy and can send an improperly supported roof crashing down quickly.

Step 4 – Settle on a Roofing Material

As far as choosing the actual roofing material, you probably just want to use the same material that is on the rest of your house. It shouldn't be hard to find shingles that match what you already have. If you have steel roofing, which is more common in northern climates, you will want to make sure that it is from the same manufacturer as the rest of the house. The rib patterns in these panels tend to be unique to the manufacturer, and you won't get a uniform appearance if you use a different brand.

Step 5 – Choose Your Walls and Screening

When planning the walls for the enclosure, screening is a much easier and more cost-effective way to go. Screening can be purchased in rolls, which will allow you to cut to size the pieces that you need right on the job site. You will simply cut out the pieces that you need and use a staple gun to tack them into place. You can then come back with some simple pieces of trim and cover the edges. This will provide your new space with a clean, finished look.

As mentioned above, it is possible to frame complete walls. They can be insulated and finished on the inside to create an additional all-season living space. If you think that you might want to pursue this option, know that you will also have to determine how you want to finish the outside of the room as well. Is the rest of your house brick? Does it have vinyl siding? Will the porch need soffit and fascia as well? All of these things are expenses that you need to account for as you make your plan.

Step 6 – Decide on Flooring

Perhaps the most difficult part of making your existing porch into an all-season room is insulating the floor. If your porch is a simple concrete slab that is poured directly onto the ground, then you don't have much to worry about; but, if it is a deck that is built up and off the ground, then you will need to develop a plan for insulating and weatherproofing the ground as well. It is possible to insulate and close off an existing deck floor, but it requires some tedious work. You should go into it knowing that the floor of your new room will not be as efficient as the floors in the rest of the house.

This is a project that will take a little bit of construction know-how, but it is one that can be done with the help of a few handy friends or professionals. The most important thing before you build an enclosed patio is to make a good plan and stick with it. This will ensure that you finish with a structurally sound enclosure that is on budget. Grab a piece of paper and start sketching.