Benefits of Adding a Screened Deck to Your Home

screened deckIs a screened deck right for your home? If you’re looking for a new indoor/outdoor living space, a screened porch or deck is just one of your options. Here at Structurally Speaking, we can create a custom design just for you. Our goal is to construct the perfect additional living space, based on your family’s specific needs and your home’s design.

Screened Deck Advantages

Adding a screened in porch or deck gives you an additional living space for entertaining and relaxing. You get some additional benefits as well:

  • A screened living space allows you to bring the outdoors in, so you can enjoy your backyard with some protection from the elements.
  • Unlike open decks, a screened in deck is a safer option for young children and pets, since you can keep the door locked.
  • You don’t need to build a new room onto your home. We can add screens to your current deck or porch.
  • With the screens, you are protected from bugs, which is especially helpful on summer evenings when mosquitos can make enjoying your yard unbearable.

Additionally, adding an outdoor space can be a great home improvement investment. According to Remodeling Magazine, you can recoup over 70% of your costs if you add a deck, for example. In other words, the value of your home will increase, so that someday when you sell, you’ll be able to ask a higher price. You will also typically be able to sell your home faster, since buyers often look for an indoor/outdoor space when searching for a home.

Beyond Decks: Other Indoor/Outdoor Space Options

Instead of a screened deck, you may wish to consider a different type of living space that brings the outdoors inside. Each has its own advantages.

First, many homeowners love the versatility of adding a sunroom. A sunroom typically has large windows, but also has heating, cooling, and electricity. You can use this space all year long, even during the coldest parts of winter and hottest parts of summer.

You can also consider a three-season room. Unlike screened porches and decks, these rooms are completely enclosed with glass windows for added protection from the elements. However, these typically don’t have heating and cooling like a true sunroom.

Some homeowners may also want to consider a traditional porch, patio, or deck instead of a screened-in option. You can add on to an existing porch or deck, or we can build one from scratch. These spaces are less versatile than a room with windows or screens, but they are a budget-friendly option.

The Budget for Your New Deck

Speaking of your budget, you might be wondering how much to set aside for your new indoor/outdoor living space. The short answer is: it depends.

At Structurally Speaking, we create a custom design for every homeowner. You’ll start the process with a no-obligation meeting where we discuss your design preferences, along with budget. We think it’s extremely important to start on the same page. We’ll never design a space you can’t afford.

To keep the price in your budget, we can look at the size and complexity of design for your new deck, as well as the materials. We don’t sacrifice quality, but some materials are just naturally less expensive than others. For example, composite decking typically costs more than wood. We’ll also ensure the screen material, roof material, and other materials fit into your budget.

How We Create the Perfect Deck Design

The budget isn’t the only thing we discuss during your initial consultation. This is a meeting you’ll have with Jim, the owner of Structurally Speaking. Jim oversees every deck, porch, and sunroom project from start to finish.

If you have clear deck or porch ideas, Jim can bring life to the picture in your head. However, if you aren’t sure what you want, he can help. He’ll look at your existing deck or porch if you have one, as well as the overall space and design of your home. He will also go over features you can add, such as a hot tub deck, pergola, fire pit, built-in planters, and more. By the end of this meeting, Jim will have a good idea of what will work best for your home and family.

Next, we’ll schedule a design presentation. During this second meeting, Jim will show you drawings of his designs for your space. You can make changes to the deck or porch design at this point, so the final result is exactly what you want.

Once you are completely happy with the design, we’ll start the building process. Jim oversees the team to ensure that his drawings are translated from paper to real life. You don’t have to worry about the deck or porch cost inflating at this point; the price we quoted at the design presentation is the price you get. We don’t give you a surprise bill at the end of the project.

FAQs about Screened Decks

Every screened-in porch or deck is different, but here are a few frequently asked questions about this kind of outdoor living space:

  • Is a screened-in deck heated or cooled?

Typically, no, though it is common to have a ceiling fan. If you want a climate-controlled space, we recommend a sunroom.

  • Can screened decks have a fire pit?

We don’t recommend most fire pits under a roof. However, you can still have a fire feature! There are fire features that are safe under a roof, such as outdoor fireplaces.

  • Does a screened porch or deck add to the square footage of your home?

This area is usually not calculated as square footage if you sell the home, but it is a bonus space that buyers love to see.

Do you have more questions about screened decks or other outdoor living areas? Contact us today! Give us a call at 919-786-4825. We’re happy to answer any of your questions and set up an initial meeting so you can speak to Jim about your deck project.

Top Covered Back Porch Ideas for Homeowners in the Triad

covered back porch ideasAt Structurally Speaking, we love helping homeowners turn their outdoor living space dreams into reality. We can help you refine your sunroom, enclosed porch, deck, or covered back porch ideas to create the perfect design for your family. When you work with our team, you can rest assured that you will absolutely love the new addition to your home.

The Benefits of an Outdoor Living Space

Here in North Carolina, you can enjoy an outdoor living space during most months of the year. Even in the dead of winter, we tend to have some mild days. So, if you live here in the Triad, you’re going to get a lot of use out of your porch, deck, or sunroom. Here are a few other benefits you may not have considered:

This is a Great Investment

Studies show that building an outdoor space is one of the best ways to invest your money if you’re looking to make home improvements. Someday, when you sell your home, you’ll be able to sell it faster and get a higher sale price. Here is a list of some of the top outdoor improvements to make if you want to see a return on investment.

Your Party Will Have More Space

An outdoor space is perfect for entertaining, even if you need to be cautious. Social distancing is easier and a small gathering is safer when you are outside. Even after we no longer need to social distance for health reasons, no one likes a crowded party. If you love to host, having an outdoor space like a covered porch or enclosed porch gives you room to invite more people.

Adding a Porch or Sunroom Gives You Flexibility

This space can act as a second living room, office, breakfast nook, etc. The possibilities are endless. Your family will love having space to spread out and use the porch in the way that makes the most sense for them. Our porch design options offer flexibility.

Porches Offer Protection

A back porch can help you enjoy your yard in ways a deck does not. Even when it is raining or even snowing, you can enjoy time on your porch. It also provides shade when the sun gets too hot. If you enclose your porch or opt for a sunroom instead, you also have a protection from mosquitos.

A Porch Offers Options for Plants

If you have a green thumb (or an aspiring green thumb), a porch or sunroom is the perfect place for potted plants. You can more easily control the sun/shade and water your plants receive with a covered porch.

Your Kids and Pets Have a Safe Place to Play

Porches offer a playroom option for kids and pets that is a bit safer than most backyards. Even if your yard is fenced, you may not feel comfortable with your kids playing outside alone. A porch is a great stepping stone so they can enjoy time outside without fully leaving the house.

These are just a few of the benefits of adding a porch or sunroom to your home. Different families find various benefits depending on individual needs. For example, maybe you have a teen who really wants to enjoy a sleeping porch in the summer. Or, maybe you and your spouse love to sit on the porch to watch the sunset after a long day at work. The sky is really the limit.

The Structurally Speaking Process

If you feel confused about your outdoor living space options, don’t worry. You are not alone! Most homeowners feel overwhelmed trying to choose the best option for their budget. That’s why we guide you through the process from start to finish.

We’ll create a custom design for your covered back porch or other outdoor space. This process starts with an initial consultation. During the consultation, you’ll sit down with Structurally Speaking’s owner, Jim Brennan, to discuss your specific covered back porch ideas and needs. Yes, Jim oversees every design consultation and the entire process. You get individualized attention and a custom design, not a cookie cutter outdoor space.

We meet some clients who know exactly what they want and others who have no idea. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. Regardless, Jim will show you multiple examples and ask all the right questions to understand what you want and need in your new porch.

From there, Jim will design options and schedule a design presentation. At the design presentation, you’ll get to review what Jim believes will be the best options for your home and lifestyle. At this point, you can still change your mind. There is no obligation, and we can make tweaks to your porch design. If you aren’t happy, we aren’t happy.

Once we nail down the design together, we’ll start the building process. Once again, Jim oversees the construction part of the project. We don’t subcontract the work to a team that doesn’t understand the design or cuts corners to get done more quickly. Jim ensures that the design pops from the paper to real life so you can enjoy your beautiful backyard complete with new porch.

Are Sunrooms and Three-Season Rooms Better than Porches?

As we walk you through the design options, you might be wondering if a porch is really the best choice. Along with porches, we also build sunrooms and three-season rooms (also sometimes called three-season sunrooms or three-season porches). The truth is that it just depends on your goal for this new outdoor living space.

Adding a sunroom is like adding a room to your home. They might have a wall of windows, but they also have heating and cooling. It’s the most functional option, even during the coldest days of winter and hottest days of summer. That said, a sunroom feels least like an outdoor space and is also typically the most expensive option.

A three-season room is like a sunroom, but typically does not have built-in heating and cooling, beyond a ceiling fan in some cases. They do provide a lot of protection from the elements, but you may not be able to enjoy these rooms year-round. Unlike an enclosed porch, these spaces are typically larger and have floor-to-ceiling windows or screens. However, many people use these terms interchangeably, which can be confusing. That’s why we’re so heavily involved with the design and construction process. We want to make sure you get exactly what you want, regardless of the terms you use to describe your vision.

Both traditional sunrooms and three-season rooms offer more benefits than a simply covered porch. However, these options are a bigger undertaking as well, requiring a bigger budget, more planning, and more space. Jim can talk to you more about all your outdoor room options during your consultation.

Enclosing Your Back Porch

If you already have a back porch, we can help you enclose it using windows or screens. In both cases, enclosing your porch can make it more functional. We can also add other features such as blinds, a ceiling fan, or even an outdoor fireplace.

But is enclosing your back porch the best option for your family?

First, consider how you currently use your porch. Enclosing your porch, especially if you choose screens instead of glass, can obstruct your view slightly. Some people also like the more open feel for a normal back porch.

However, it’s also important to think about how you could use the porch in different ways once it is enclosed. An enclosed space has more options. You can use a space heater or fans to control the temperature slightly. The windows/screens also prevent bugs from crashing the party. Most homeowners find that an enclosed porch is more functional.

If you’re not sure which option is right for you, Jim can walk you through the pros and cons during your consultation. Additionally, we can show you porch design examples so you can envision how a screened porch might look on your home.

Keep in mind that you don’t need an existing porch or to add an enclosed porch to your home. We can upgrade your back porch or wraparound porch, but we also have experience with porch construction. Our team can build your porch from scratch. We can also build a traditional non-enlcosed porch that could be upgraded to an enclosed porch later.

Covering a Deck

Instead of a traditional porch, you may instead wish to build a covered deck or cover you existing deck. A covered deck may or may not have railing like a porch. You can cover just part of your deck or cover the entire deck.

The first option is an awning, which attaches to your house. Awnings are typically made from fabric. They are low-cost while still looking great. Some awnings can be raised and lowered to meet the needs of the day while others are permanently raised.

Another option is to install a pergola. With a pergola, you get protection from the sun without blocking out the sun completely. Pergolas are a great choice if you like to garden, since you can easy train climbing plants to grow on the pergola. This provides even more shade over time.

We can also build a full pavilion over your existing deck. Pavilions provide a roof with full protection from the sun and rain. We don’t recommend this option if you enjoy using a fire pit on your deck. However, we can incorporate an outdoor fireplace instead if you want a fire feature that is safe to use under a roof.

Indoor/Outdoor Combination Spaces

If your head is spinning with the options and you don’t know which to choose, don’t worry. You also have the option to incorporate multiple ideas into a design for a true indoor/outdoor space. For example, maybe you want to enclose part of your porch, but have it lead to a traditional open porch. Or maybe you want a sunroom that leads out to a deck.

Because we design each porch to perfectly suit your needs, you don’t have to choose from a handful of pre-fabricated solutions. Your indoor/outdoor space will be fully customized to meet your needs.

We’ll also help you determine what porch size works best for your home. We look at how you intend to use the space, the size of your house, and the size of your backyard. Even a small porch can add a lot of pizazz to your home.

Top Decorating Tips – Covered Back Porch Ideas to Maximize Your New Space

Before you decorate your new back porch, we have to build it. However, to get a head start, here are a few ideas to keep in mind:

  • Remember to use outdoor fabrics for pillows, seat cushions, curtains, etc. This type of fabric won’t fade as quickly in the sun and may be resistant to mold and mildew.
  • An outdoor rug can make the space look cozy . It also helps to prevent your family from tracking mud and dirt into the house.
  • Think about storage for some basic outdoor items, such as outdoor toys and smaller gardening supplies.
  • Provide lighting in areas that will need it most. An enclosed porch will get a lot of sunlight. However, you’ll still need task lighting during the day.
  • Add plants to help bring the outdoors into your home. Many plants do well in pots, especially if they’ll be getting a lot of sun, as is the case with a porch. You can even successfully grow some species of trees in pots.

If you have decor ideas that you want us to incorporate into your design, just let us know. We are happy to include an outdoor kitchen, built-in outdoor furniture, water features, fire features, special pavers, built-in planters, and more. Our goal is to create a beautiful backyard oasis that you use every day.

Book your free consultation now by filling out the form above.

How to Enclose a Porch for Winter: What You Need to Know

how to enclose a porch for winterAs 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.

Click here to learn more about our screened porch options.

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.

HVAC Options

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.

Our Team Can Bring Your Screened In Porch Ideas to Life

screened in porch ideasA screened porch is a great way to add an indoor/outdoor combination space to your home. However, as you are planning this new addition, the options can seem overwhelmingly endless. Here at Structurally Speaking, we have experience with helping homeowners navigate the building process. We’ll help you figure out the best screened in porch ideas for your home. Then, we’ll turn your design into a reality!

Porch Options for your Home – Which is Right for You?

First, keep in mind that a screen porch is just one of the options if you want an outdoor living space. We also have experience building:

  • Sunrooms (aka four-season rooms)
  • Multi-level and single-level decks
  • Combination porch/decks

Typically, a sunroom is the best option if you like spending most of your time inside. On the other hand, a deck is the best option if you like spending most of your time outside. An enclosed porch is the best of both worlds. You can keep it warm with some heaters or a fireplace and cool with some fans. However, unlike a sunroom, you get more fresh air and natural light through the screens.

Our process starts with an in-depth consultation. We’ll talk about your budget, your family’s habits, and your ultimate wish list. Our goal is to figure out what is most important for your new screened porch.

You’re in good hands! Our owner, Jim Brennan, oversees every project, so you get the exact porch design that is right for you. Jim has been working in the deck and porch design field for over 20 years. After working for the largest deck and porch builder in the United States, he founded Structurally Speaking in 2008. Jim gives every family a customized, competitively-priced screened porch design. Rather than an overpriced, cookie-cutter solution, you’ll get a porch, deck, or sunroom that you really love.

How Can You Use a Screened Porch?

When we create your screened porch, sometimes called a three season porch, we can build it from scratch or we can enclose your existing porch. If you have a porch already, you don’t lose any function by enclosing it with screens. You can still sit on your porch to enjoy a nice breeze as you relax. However, adding the screens gives you several other ways to enjoy your porch!

First, our clients love being able to use their porches at night without worrying about mosquitoes. Let’s face it – the evenings here in North Carolina can be pretty buggy. Screens prevent the bugs from eating you alive…and that’s always a good thing!

Because the screens keep out the bugs, this is also the perfect solution for picnics. You’ll have a place to spread out the food without worrying about a fly diving into the dip or a bee buzzing around the barbecue.

Another awesome function of a screened in porch is to provide a protected place for anyone who wants to get out of the sun. When you have a party or picnic in your outdoor area, older family members may need to take a break. Instead of going inside, where they can feel disconnected from the rest of the family, they can enjoy the enclosed porch.

With a screened porch, you’ll also have a safe outdoor living room where your children can play. If you have small children, you might not feel comfortable sending them outside by themselves, even if your yard has fencing. As an added bonus, they can play outside even in the rain!

This just scratches the surface when it comes to screened in porch ideas. You can read about more benefits here! Jim will speak to you about how you plan to use your porch. Then, he’ll design the porch or porch/deck combo that will work best for your family.

Creating a True Outdoor Room

Yes, your screened in porch can function as an outdoor living space, especially in the summer. Some people even turn their screened porch into a “sleeping porch” during the summer because it is the perfect place to sleep when the weather is warm. You can add a small day bed or other comfortable furniture to enjoy the feeling of camping out without having to pitch a tent.

To make your screened in porch feel like a true outdoor room, here are a few ideas you can consider:

  • Install a ceiling fan to help you stay cool, even when there is no breeze.
  • Consider adding some curtains, shades, awnings, or even shutters to give you some additional privacy when needed.
  • Add features to make your porch feel cozy, such as an outdoor fireplace. This is especially helpful in keeping your screened in porch functional well into autumn.
  • Choose flooring that is both easy to clean and comfortable for walking barefoot. We have some great composite decking and wood options, and you can also consider other materials.
  • Keep the porch swing if you love it, but also add other furniture pieces with weather-resistant fabrics and finishes. Use wicker furniture, bamboo and other materials that provide an outdoor ambiance.

As part of the porch design process, Jim will talk to you about how to create a space that is most functional for your family’s needs.

Screened In Porch Ideas for Decorating

We recommend thinking about your decorating preferences when you start the design process. This allows you to choose features like flooring and finishes that make sense for your overall aesthetic. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to decorating! However, here are a few questions to consider:

  • How is the rest of your home decorated? Typically, you’ll want rooms to flow nicely, including your porch. (That’s not to say your porch can’t be a departure if that’s what you want! After all, it is your space!)
  • Do you want to have a theme? Some people like to give their enclosed porch the feel of a beach retreat, mountain cabin, tropical paradise, etc.
  • What colors will complement your home and the outdoors? Think about the yard, street, or other landscape you can see from your porch.
  • Where is your porch in relation to the sun? As you are placing seating, plants, and other items, you’ll want to keep the sun in mind. No one can enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning if the sun is directly in their eyes.
  • Who will be using the porch the most? Is it a space for the whole family, an area more for adults, a playroom for the kids, or a hangout spot for teens?
  • Consult various websites for decorating ideas. You will find many resources with specific porch decorating ideas.

As you consider how you want to decorate, we can make recommendations for the types of screens, as well as other things we will be installing, such as flooring and railings. Throughout the process, we are mindful of your budget. We won’t start construction until you are completely happy with both the design and the price tag.

Turning Your Porch into Something More

Many clients find that an enclosed porch is just the first step in creating the perfect indoor/outdoor living space. This is especially true if you are converting or building a back porch, where more people have more space. Instead of a porch alone, we can also create a full screen porch plan that connects to a beautiful deck. This gives you ample additional living space under a roof, while also adding true outdoor space perfect for relaxing and parties.

Our porch/deck combos can be as complex or simple as you want. We have clients who have a small porch that leads to an effortless, uncomplicated deck. However, some clients prefer large porches that have a screen door leading to a large multi-level deck. Some of the features that add function and beauty to a deck are pergolas, built-in seating, planters, and more. We have even built custom hot tub decks for our clients!

If you’re not sure what you want, we can show you a wide range of options that fit your budget and space. Our goal is to narrow down what will work best for you. You don’t have to worry about an overbearing sales pitch when you work with Structurally Speaking. We never talk you into features you don’t need just to raise the price of the project. At the end of the day, it’s most important to us that your final porch area is exactly what you want.

Adding Value to Your Home

One of the other main advantages to a screened porch that we haven’t yet discussed is the increase in home equity. HGTV lists creating an outdoor space as one of the 10 ways you can add value to your home. Even a small screened porch will make your home more attractive to buyers if you ever sell.

If you aren’t thinking about selling anytime soon, adding a screened porch, either as a front porch or back porch can have other financial benefits. Down the road, if you ever need a home equity loan or line of credit, an outdoor living space can lead to a higher appraisal.

Additionally, if your family grows, an enclosed porch gives you extra living space without having to build onto your home. Sometimes, it is nice to have multiple places for people to relax, especially if, for example, one person is trying to study, another is trying to watch television, and another is trying to work. Even a big living room with a vaulted ceiling can feel small when people are trying to do multiple activities in one space.

It is also easy, relatively speaking, to convert a screened porch to a full sun room (aka four- season room). So, if you want to upgrade, we can help you complete that project in the future. The project will be easier with your existing porch than it would be to build a new sun room from scratch.

Structurally Speaking – Builders You Can Trust

We’ve mentioned how our owner Jim is heavily involved with the design process for every client. But what about the building process? Can you trust our crew to create your dream?

The short answer is yes!

Jim doesn’t just oversee the design step of the process. He also keeps careful watch over our construction crew. Here are our promises to you:

  • We don’t hire unknown, unreliable subcontractors to finish the job. Jim oversees our trusted team of specialists who have experience building custom decks and porches.
  • Our crew will respect your property. We don’t leave a messy worksite at the end of each day. Additionally, we take care to disrupt your landscape as little as possible. We’ll do our best to impact your life minimally as we complete your project.
  • Also, we will respect your time. Our team will show up bright and early, ready to work, based on the schedule we set. Sometimes, unavoidable weather delays happen, but in these cases, we always stay in touch about an updated timeline for your porch project.
  • Quality is important to us. We use the best materials on the market and take pride in impeccable work. If you are not satisfied with any aspect of your enclosed porch, we’ll make it right. We’re not happy until you’re happy.

Are you ready to learn more about how we can help you create a beautiful screened in porch? Click here to contact us via phone or fill out the form to schedule a free design consultation. We look forward to working with you!

Can a Custom Deck Builder Design the Deck of Your Dreams?

Custom Deck Builder

A custom deck builder can give you that awesome outdoor living space your family loves. However, if you don’t know exactly what you want, you are not alone. Many homeowners feel the frustration of not knowing how to improve their back yard.

We can help! At Structurally Speaking, we specialize in building custom decks. Our team can help you develop the plan for your space based on your needs, budget, and current landscaping. You don’t have to have a perfect deck in mind to begin your project. We’ll walk you through the process to bring your vision to life, even if your vision isn’t crystal clear at the start.

The Structurally Speaking Process

We have three phases to the custom deck building process. This helps us ensure we build an outdoor living space you love, rather than a deck that is “just okay.”

First, we’ll sit down with you to discuss your needs and budget during an initial consultation. Sometimes, a simple deck is best. Other times, a more elaborate design will work better. We’ll ask you a lot of questions about how you plan to use the space. Additionally, we’ll talk about your current outdoor space and the biggest frustrations you have about it. We’ll also get a sense of your style by showing you many different options. We also consider the shape of your property and the style of your home…a deck must complement the space to add value.

Next, we’ll create a custom deck design based on our initial meeting. Actually, we’ll create a few designs with variations so you have options. Most people don’t know exactly what they want when we start this process. Our design phase will help us bring the project to life so you can envision the final product. Don’t worry if we don’t hit the nail on the head the first time. We can make tweaks until you are completely happy with the design.

Finally, we’ll start the building project. Up until this point, you can walk away. There are no strings attached during our initial consultation and design. However, once we enter the building phase, we’ll sign a contract so you know exactly what you’ll be paying and the construction timeline. Our team will turn the final design into a reality.

Deck Cost and Timeline

The cost and timeline for your deck project will depend on several factors, including the materials you choose, the complexity of the design, and the time of year. That said, one thing is certain; hiring a professional custom deck builder is always going to save you money and time versus doing it yourself!

At first, it might seem like a deck DIY project is the way to go. Here are a few things to consider:

  • If you build the deck yourself, will the money you save go toward fixing mistakes later? Most homeowners make several mistakes while building their deck. Not only does this take time, but the mistakes you make could cost a lot of money later on.
  • Are you getting the best prices on materials? Sure, you’ll save on labor if you do the work yourself, but we get contractor deals on composite decking, wood, and other materials. We pass those savings on to you.
  • Do you know what permits and permissions you need from your local city/county and homeowner’s association? It depends on your location and the scope of your project. When you work with us, we can handle this for you so you don’t have to worry about fines.
  • Are you building on a solid base? Most deck projects work best with a layer of stone or cinder blocks to prevent moisture. If you build directly on the ground, you’ll have to repair or replace your deck sooner.
  • How valuable is your time? You’ll be amazed how fast we get your new deck built. We’re professionals, and our team does this every day. Plus, we have several people working at once. If you do it yourself, it can take several days or even weeks to finish your deck.

Here’s the good news: we talk about budget on day one. We don’t want to start the design, let alone the building part of the project unless you are comfortable with the numbers. You won’t get a surprise bill at the end of the project when you work with Structurally Speaking. Our goal is to create the deck that you want, while staying within your budget.

Custom Deck Design Materials

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make for your new deck is the building material. The deck installation process is roughly the same for all types of materials, but the material you choose can affect pricing and will definitely impact the overall look for your outdoor space.

A classic wood deck is a choice that’s hard to beat. We have both pressure-treated wood and composite options. Looking for an even more unique deck material option? During the consultation, let us know what you’re thinking, and we’ll let you know if it is possible!

If you do choose the more traditional option of wood or composite decking, we have a variety of options. Pine is a very affordable option that you can stain or paint in almost any color. We also have options such as cedar and exotic woods such as Ipe.

Features Your Custom Deck Builder Can Design

Maybe you want a simple deck that just provides a flat surface for your outdoor furniture and grill. If that’s the case, we can create the deck of your dreams. However, we also can add special features to your custom deck. These features make your deck more functional and beautiful. Here are a few of the most popular options for homeowners looking for something special for their deck:

Imagine relaxing in your very own hot tub at the end of a long day at work. We can create a beautiful hot tub deck that allows you easy access to your new spa.

Add some shade to your new deck with the addition of a pergola. As an added bonus, pergolas offer a great structure for climbing plants such as ivy and various vines. So, if you love the idea of using your deck for plants, a pergola is a great option.

  • Other Plant-Friendly Features

In addition to pergolas, we can include other plant-friendly features. For example, we could include built-in planters. We can also build your deck around trees or other plants that are already part of your landscaping. Additionally, if you love to garden, we can create raised beds as part of your new deck.

  • Built-In Seating

Built-in benches, chairs, tables, and other seating can be a beautiful and functional feature to add to your deck. During the deck design process, we’ll talk to you about how you’ll use your new deck. Maybe you envision small family gatherings and intimate dinner parties. Or, maybe you like to host large reunions and gatherings. It might make sense to have one large seating area, or it might make sense to have several smaller seating areas. We’ll create a design that makes sense for your specific needs.

Multi-Level Deck Installation

Most people think about their decks as a one-level outdoor space. We can build these decks, but we can also expand the vision to include multiple levels.

A multi-level deck allows you several access points from your home. For example, you can exit from your kitchen to the lower level of your deck while also enjoying a balcony-level exit from your upstairs master bedroom.

We can create your multi-level deck using ramps, stairs, or a combination. Don’t forget the built-in lighting. As part of your custom-built deck, we can include solar lights or we can run electrical wiring for lights you can control via a switch or remote instead. These lights keep your family safe while using ramps and stairs to enjoy the multiple levels of your deck.

Building a Deck and Sunroom or Porch Combination

A deck gives you a beautiful outdoor living space to enjoy with your family. However, the weather doesn’t always allow you to spend time outside. We can create an indoor-outdoor combination space by adding on or attaching to a sunroom or screened porch.

Here are some top benefits of including a sunroom or screened porch as part of your deck project:

  • You can enjoy time “outside” even if it is raining. During the spring and fall, a porch or sunroom can also provide shelter from some chilly wind.
  • An indoor-outdoor space provides maximum shade from the sun on hot days. We can even install overhead fans to help keep the space cool.
  • You dream deck could also be a mosquito buffet if your home is near water. A porch or sunroom is a place to get some relief on especially buggy nights. For the same reason, it’s also a great place for the food during a party.
  • If your yard doesn’t have a fence, a screened porch or sunroom is a more secure play area for young children.

Keep in mind that a screened porch or sunroom will also add value to your home, as will a beautiful deck. Even if you currently have no plans to move, you will probably want to sell your home someday to either upgrade or downsize. When you’re ready, you’ll be happy for a backyard that increases the sale price.

Until then, the added equity means that you have the ability to get a home equity loan or line of credit when you need it. This money is nice to have for very large renovation projects, such as installing a new room. The FTC has some great information about home equity loans and credit lines if you’re interested in learning more.

Common Deck Mistakes Homeowners Make (and How to Avoid Them!)

As you are considering the type of deck you want, we urge you to avoid these common mistakes when hiring a custom deck builder.

First, the most common mistake we see is hiring a deck building company that isn’t licensed, insured, and experienced. We get it; a custom deck can be expensive. However, if you hire an inexperienced deck builder, your dream deck could turn into a nightmare. These companies often cut corners, which means you’ll spend twice as much to fix mistakes. They also don’t have insurance, so if anyone has an accident during construction, you could be liable. Don’t hire the first cheap company you see on Craigslist. Do your research and hire a company like Structurally Speaking. A local company strives to please its customers and relies on their recommendations to friends and family. We want your project to appeal to all of your guests and add value to your home. Read some reviews from satisfied customers to see how we value our customer service.

Another mistake we see homeowners make is not solidifying a total budget with a contract. Often, less scrupulous deck contractor companies won’t give you a contract. Then, at the end of the project they present you with a bill that is much higher than you thought it would be. Always get the total cost in writing. Here at Structurally Speaking, we don’t start a project until we are all in agreement about the price.

We also see homeowners make the mistake of hiring a deck contractor that doesn’t have experience with design. Building the deck is just one part of the project. If you know exactly what you want and have a very simple design in mind, these contractors can probably handle it. Although, you could have problems if they don’t get the appropriate permits or have insurance and a license. Some of these national companies will be leaving the area after they complete your project and will not be available if problems occur later on. Therefore, for a more complicated design or just for your peace of mind, always hire a professional with design experience. When you work with Structurally Speaking, you get the full attention of our owner Jim Brennan who has decades of decking experience. He has designed hundreds of decks and looks forward to designing yours as well. Click here to contact us today.