How to Enclose a Porch for Winter: What You Need to Know
As fall turns into winter, you might be wondering if you can get more use out of your outdoor living space. A porch seems like a great feature until the temperature dips and you’re stuck in the house. If you’re interested in how to enclose a porch for winter, we can assist! The Structurally Speaking team has a few ideas to help you enjoy your porch all year round, including both permanent and seasonal solutions.
Enclosing Your Porch: Easy Screened Porch Solutions for Homeowners
First, let us start by mentioning that some homeowners get a lot of value by simply enclosing their porch with screens. Screens won’t create a warm environment, but they will help keep wet leaves and snow from blowing into your porch area.
Enclosing your porch with screens also has a number of other year-round benefits:
- You’ll be able to enjoy your porch with fewer insects in the spring, summer, and fall.
- Screens are relatively inexpensive and work with most porches.
- Your porch will be more secure with added screens. If you have problems with theft of outdoor furniture or decor, this might be the right solution for you.
- A screened porch is a more secure option for pets and young children.
With a screened porch, you can still heat it during the winter with the use of outdoor heaters. Electric wall-mounted heaters, outdoor table heaters, and lamp-style patio heaters all work well with a screen porch. You’ll want to stay away from a traditional propane patio heater or fire pits, as these are not meant for use in a covered area like a porch.
Weatherproofing Your Enclosed Porch
A step up from screens, you can also install a storm door and windows instead of screens to create a barrier between you and the elements. This will create an enclosed porch that stays dry and protects you from the cold wind we get here in North Carolina from late fall to early spring.
Some people call this kind of enclosed porch a “three season room” or “three season porch.” Typically, this is because the temperature remains comfortable for three seasons – spring, summer, and fall. If you want the room to be functional in the winter as well, you can use a space heater as needed. This is a great option if you use the room from time to time during the winter, but not every day.
A three season room can also be comfortable in the winter if it is positioned on the side of your house that gets the most sun during the time of day you use the porch. For example, if you love to use your enclosed porch as a breakfast spot, you’ll want it to face the east so it gets a lot of passive solar energy in the morning as the sun rises. Still, you will likely need a space heater to comfortably use your three season porch during the coldest weeks of winter.
Keep in mind, space heaters use a lot of electricity and can be dangerously hot if you have small children. Thus, this is not an option we recommend if you want a fully functional living space you can use every day of the year. This article has some great information about the pros and cons of space heaters, as well as the different types.
Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Three Season Porch Warm
While we can also turn your existing porch into a sunroom with built-in heating (keep reading to find out more), we also have a few tips and tricks for keeping your existing porch warm. Even if you don’t have an HVAC system for your porch, you can keep this outdoor living space warm enough to use during most of the year.
First, when the temperature starts to drop, you can install plastic sheeting over all the storm windows to provide a layer of insulation. Sheeting is extremely inexpensive and easy to install. This is especially helpful if you have older windows that are drafty.
Next, we recommend some curtains. Guided PVC curtains can be helpful if you want an unobstructed view at all times. Like plastic sheeting, they give you an extra insulating layer without blocking the windows.
However, curtains made from a heavy cloth might serve you better. Open them as the sun hits your porch to warm the room as much as possible. Then, close them when the sun is no longer hitting your porch to add a layer of insulation.
If you have outdoor furniture on your porch, you can also bring the cushions inside when you aren’t using them. Then, simply take them outside only when you’re using them. Subsequently, they’re more room temperature when you need them. This will give you a warmer place to sit when you do want to enjoy your porch. Choose wicker or wood furniture instead of metal when possible to avoid a super cold seat during the winter.
Last but not least, if you currently have an old enclosed porch that is extremely drafty, we can help! We can renovate your porch so it is in better condition to use all year long.
How to Enclose a Porch for Winter (with Climate Control!)
If you want a truly functional enclosed porch, we recommend turning your porch into a sunroom. A sunroom is like a three season room, but it has heat and air conditioning, just like the rest of your house. Essentially, this is an indoor/outdoor living space for people who love outdoor living and want to feel like they are outside even if the temperature is below freezing.
We can even add a deck addition if you worry about losing too much of that “outdoor” element. We’ll design a custom deck/sunroom option that makes sense for your family.
You have a few different options for heating your sunroom. There is no right or wrong method. It depends on your specific heating needs, your current HVAC system, and your budget.
If your current HVAC system is large enough to accommodate the extra square footage, you might be able to heat your sunroom simply by keeping the door open. If there is a nearby vent, this could be the right solution for you. You may also be able to easily add a vent to this new room in your home. Sometimes, the process of adding a piece of ductwork and new vent is very simple. Other times, it is a more labor-intensive and expensive project. If you have baseboards or radiators, rather than a forced air system, this may also be easy to add to your sunroom, or it may be more difficult. It depends on your current set-up.
For more difficult cases, a mini split (ductless) system specifically for your sunroom might be the best choice. A mini split HVAC system provides both heat and cooling, but does not use ducts. It is more cost-effective than using a space heater. To install, you’ll need to mount the unit on an exterior wall. So, if your sunroom is floor-to-ceiling glass, this type of unit might not be an option for you.
No matter your sunroom heating challenges, we can help. Our team of professionals takes everything into consideration when designing your indoor/outdoor living space, including your heating and cooling needs. Even if you think it might be very difficult to heat this space how you want, we’ll come up with solutions for you.
Why an Enclosed Porch or Sunroom Makes Financial Sense
Enclosing your porch or turning your porch into a sunroom can be a great investment. Whether you are planning to move soon, want to upgrade within the next 10-20 years, or plan to spend the rest of you life in your home, a porch enclosure just makes sense.
If you plan to move or upgrade to a new home in then next 5 or so years, a screen enclosure, storm windows, or a complete sunroom with heat can help you sell your home for more money. In general, you can expect to recoup 70-80% of the cost in the sale price. This puts it on par with creating a master bedroom, in terms of an investment. So, you’ll get a beautiful new space to enjoy, and then you’ll recoup some of the costs when you sell.
Additionally, an indoor/outdoor living space can help you sell your home faster. In a seller’s market, homes sell very quickly. However, in a buyer’s market, your home could take several months or even years to sell. Many buyers are specifically looking for a space such as an enclosed porch, sunroom, or deck. It can help your home stand out from the others on the market.
If you don’t plan to move anytime soon, a porch enclosure or sunroom can still help you financially. These features increase the value of your home. In the future, if you ever want to take out a home equity loan or line of credit, you’ll qualify for more money if your home is worth more. Home equity loans or lines of credit can be very beneficial if you ever want to take on a large home renovation project or need money for an unexpected large expense.
The Structurally Speaking Experience
If you’re looking for how to enclose a porch for winter, you’ll see multiple contractor options. So why should you choose Structurally Speaking for your indoor/outdoor space?
To start, our team treats every customer as an individual. Many porch, sunroom, and deck builders have pre-set designs with very little room for deviation. The result? You will probably never be 100% happy with your new porch or sunroom.
Instead, we sit down for an initial consultation with you, in order to figure out exactly what you want in your new outdoor space. Our owner, Jim, has decades of experience designing custom porches, sunrooms, and decks. He specialized in this process for a large company before starting Structurally Speaking as a way to provide even better customer support.
Once Jim gets to know you and your home, he’ll create a few design options based on your budget and preferences. During the design presentation, you can make tweaks so the final project is exactly what you want. We don’t start building until you are completely happy with the design.
Our in-house build team completes your project exactly to the design specifications. We don’t pass the project off to unqualified subcontractors. Jim is fully invested in leading every project. We’ll bring your vision to life.
What People are Saying About Structurally Speaking
We think we’re the best contractors for your enclosed porch project. You don’t have to take our word for it, though! Here are some real reviews from our clients:
“Deck looks great. Thanks for your work and design. I think we will enjoy this set up for years to come, it really preserves the view from the dining room window and opens up to the back yard on the upper end.” – Brian Fork
“Jim and the crew of Structurally Speaking were fantastic. Jim’s ideas for the design worked much better than the ones we had in mind. The work was done quickly and professionally. Our porch looks amazing and our family (especially our kids) spend most of their time there.” – Ofri Leitner
“We could not be more pleased. Jim Brennan has a gift for design, and Structurally Speaking’s crew did an excellent job of turning our vision into a reality. Their attention to detail and their overall workmanship was wonderful.” – Mike Rosenthal
Are you ready to get started with your free consultation? Fill out the form above for a no-obligation quote on enclosing your porch or turning your porch into a sunroom.