Adding a screened porch to your home is exciting. You get the benefit of more space to hang out in and more of a connection to nature (without exposure to the elements and bugs). But a badly built screened porch can quickly go from an exciting new addition to a tragic catastrophe.
7 Safety Risks of a Badly Built Screened Porch
A screened porch isn’t the kind of project you should skimp on or DIY. The stakes are too high. As with deck failure, seemingly simple errors in building a screened porch can lead to serious safety concerns.
1. The porch could fall and bring the roof down with it
If you try to add a screened porch to your home on the cheap, you might think “what’s the worst that could happen?” Here’s your answer. If a screened porch isn’t bolted correctly to the house, not only can the screened porch itself fall off the house, but it could take the roof down with you. The last thing you want is for the first party you host after adding the screened porch to turn into a disaster, with the roof coming down on your guests.
But when building a screened porch, there are a lot of little things someone inexperienced can get wrong. Figuring out the amount of concrete to put down. Determining the right size for support posts, beams, and the space between different posts. And knowing how to properly bolt the new structure to the house. A small error can have big consequences.
2. Broken railings could cause a fall
While not as dramatic as bringing the whole roof down, a broken railing can still lead to serious injuries. When people see a railing, they assume it’s safe to lean on. But if your handrails aren’t secured properly, a simple lean can turn into a dramatic fall. This is especially a concern for any screened porches built on a second story, where the dangers of a fall are compounded by the extra height.
3. Improper wiring could cause a fire
Most people adding a screened porch to their home also want to include features that require electricity. Electric lights, a ceiling fan, an entertainment center—all of these things involve electricity. If the wiring in your screened porch is installed incorrectly, you face an increased risk of a fire. And it’s not like a fire will politely stick to the porch only. Once one starts, if you don’t catch it right away and put it out, it could move onto your home and put your whole family at risk.
Unless you bring in an experienced, licensed electrician, those fun electrical features come with big risks.
4. Heating features could create a fire hazard
Winter in the Charlotte area gets cold. To keep your screened porch comfortable year round, you’ll probably want to add heating features like a fireplace, ceiling heaters, or a fire pit. But adding those features also introduces more risk, if they’re not built and used correctly.
Make sure the ceiling of your screened porch is high enough for the heating feature you choose—many portable heaters are hazardous to use in spaces without high ceilings. A wood-burning fireplace needs to have a well-maintained chimney that gets inspected and cleaned periodically. And you want to make sure you build in enough space to keep your furniture a safe distance from the fireplace.
5. Improperly installed flooring can cause injuries
You count on the ground below your feet to hold your weight and support your steps. But if the flooring of your screened porch wasn’t installed correctly, that’s not something you can take for granted. If the boards weren’t secured right, or the flooring material was low enough quality to start breaking apart, one step on the screened porch could be enough to cause a fall and injury.
6. Badly built stairs or steps can cause falls
Many screened porches include stairs or steps. That could be a full set of stairs to reach an upper story, or a couple of steps to go from your home to the screened porch. Any stairs or steps must be built well in order to reduce the risk of falls. They need to have the right dimensions, so stairs aren’t too high for comfortable stepping. Make sure they also have guardrails, and that they’re built to be sturdy and reliable. And choose your lighting carefully, to ensure any steps are easy for people to see.
7. Bad lighting increases the chances of accidents
People are more likely to trip, fall, and run into things in the dark. That makes lighting an important part of building a screened porch safely. Make sure you’re installing enough lighting to keep the space safe and usable at night. And consider adding lights that specifically highlight trip hazards, like step lighting.
🔨 How to Add a Screened Porch to Your Home Safely 🩹
All of these risks are not meant to scare anyone from pursuing a screened porch project. Most things in life worth doing come with some level of risk. And you don’t have to accept all these risks as a necessary part of adding a screened porch to your home. In fact, most of them are only an issue if the project isn’t handled well.
To reduce your risks considerably—and ensure you end up with precisely the screened porch you envision – hire a licensed contractor. Ideally, select someone with over ten years of experience working on this kind of project. A contractor with years in the field will know how to pick the right materials, determine the correct dimensions for everything, and will know all the local codes and regulations relevant to the project. They’ll also have a go-to licensed electrician they work with, to ensure all the wiring is done right.
All of that leads to a screened porch your family can use safely and comfortably. You can enjoy all the benefits, without having to worry about the risks.