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Photos: Check Out 3 Gorgeous Screened Porches

Because in Washington, few spots are dreamier than a shady, mosquito-free hangout.

A brick wall had to be opened to connect the porch to the interior of the house.
Before

Expanded Colonial

“The thing that everyone wants since Covid,” says Anthony Wilder, “is a screened porch, a puppy, and maybe a pool.” The architect checked at least one of those boxes for clients in Bethesda who sought more space to entertain in their traditional Colonial. Attaching the porch to the side of the house­—where there was enough yard to accommodate it—meant the addition would become part of the front facade. So Wilder conceived its chimney, which echoes the two on the main structure, to help the porch look cohesive with the rest of the home. He designed the whole space to be easily upgradable into a three-season room—a request he says is common once homeowners see how much time they end up spending in their screened porches.

To convert the porch into a true three-season room, Wilder would add glass panels to the window frames and heaters. Photograph by John Cole Photos.
Wilder says owners should budget at least $100,000 for a screened-porch addition and plan on at least another $25,000 if they want a fireplace. The painted hardwood flooring was heat-treated to prevent chipping. Photograph by John Cole Photos.

 

Before

Modern Renovation

This serene space in Chevy Chase was part of a comprehensive remodel and addition completed last fall. It sits outside a new kitchen, above an expanded basement, and below a new owner’s suite. But even much simpler screened porches, says its architect, Catherine Fowlkes of Fowlkes Studio, are more complicated than they appear. “The big difference,” she explains, “is all of the components are visible, whereas in a structure that has walls, things can be hidden.” In other words, meticulous attention must be paid to the details.

The porch connects to the kitchen and dining area with steel-and-glass doors. The flooring is raw concrete­—a choice intended to make the porch feel more substantial than just a typical deck. Photograph by Jennifer Hughes.
An older, more traditional screened porch used to sit in almost the exact location of the new one. Though part of the porch is elevated a floor above ground level, this particular screen system is so strong that no lower railing was required. Photograph by Jennifer Hughes.

 

Before

Carport Conversion

The carport of this midcentury-modern home in Alexandria was begging to be repurposed. At some point, a section of the concrete floor had been raised three steps up, presumably to create an elevated patio. But it wasn’t exactly an inviting place to hang out, and the uneven levels meant you could no longer park a car inside.

The owners enlisted Marks-Woods Construction Services to reimagine the awkward spot as a sleek indoor/outdoor room. They gave the house a new front stoop, driveway, and walkway, too. In all, says principal Byron Woods, the project­—which wrapped in the fall of 2020—took three months and cost about $50,000.

A door leading into the house already existed—a big cost savings. Photograph by Regis Vogt.
The carport’s original ceiling got skylights and was dressed up with stained wood. A simple wall-mounted fan is the only cooling element. For screened porches, Marks-Woods recommends fans from MinkaAire. Though they were mostly able to reuse the existing carport, the crew had to tear up the concrete floor to install new footings; the new floor is composite decking. Photograph by Regis Vogt.

Porch Talk

More intel to consider if a screened porch is on your wish list

1. You can build a basic 15-by-15-foot porch made of pressure-treated lumber for as little as $25,000, according to Byron Woods, principal of Marks-Woods Construction Services.

But from there, costs easily mount. Popular finishes such as composite decking, skylights, and beadboard ceilings, plus railings and other necessities, will add thousands to the bill.

2. If you want heat in your porch, options range from low-cost plug-in units and propane-powered patio heaters (like what you see at restaurants) to heated floors, ceiling-mounted heat lamps, and baseboard heat.

3. Architect Anthony Wilder warns against adding a screened porch onto a wall with windows. Homeowners, he says, don’t realize how dark this can make a house’s interior until it’s too late.

4. While they’re great at keeping out bugs, screens don’t filter pollen. If your yard produces tons of it, you might consider adding windows.

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia.

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