When the weather’s nice, enjoying the comfort of a porch is one of life’s pleasures. But when deciding how to approach a new porch project for your home, you have a big decision to make: do you want a screened porch or an open porch?
Both options bring unique benefits. To choose which is the best choice for you, weigh the main pros and cons of each option.
The Pros of a Screened Porch
Pro: It keeps out the bugs.
For many people who decide to go with a screened porch, this is the main reason. The pleasant image of sitting outside to enjoy a beautiful day is quickly ruined by pesky mosquitos leaving you covered in itchy bites or flies gathering around your breakfast plate. A screened porch does the important job of keeping bugs out, while still letting you take advantage of being outside.
Pro: It stays cleaner.
Anyone with an open porch quickly learns how often they have to clean off the debris that gathers. In the fall you have to sweep up leaves, acorns, dirt — you name it. In the spring, pollen can coat all your furniture. A screened porch will still need cleaning, just as any room in your home does, but the screens will block much of the debris and save you a lot of cleaning trouble.
Pro: You don’t have to worry about critters.
An open porch is available to any neighborhood rodent that can get into your yard. Raccoons, opossums, and rats could very well help themselves to the food or other items you leave on your porch unattended. With a screened porch, you can leave food and other items around without worrying an animal will go after them (unless you have a sneaky pet).
Pro: You can enjoy it throughout the year.
Our fantasies of enjoying a porch are usually reserved for when the weather’s nearly perfect out. But with a screened porch, you have the power to make it comfortable at any time of year. Many screened porches include fireplaces or heaters to keep it cozy in the winter, and you can install fans to keep things cool in the summer. Because the screens keep the space enclosed, any heating or cooling options you include will be more effective than they would with an open porch.
Pro: You can install more features and electronics.
Since the screens shield a screened porch from many of the elements, you can safely install electronics in your screened porch, such as a TV or a stereo system. And you can choose the furniture and decorations you add to the porch without worry about what the next big storm will do to them.
The Cons of a Screened Porch
Con: The screens can block your view of nature.
If you have a beautiful yard, then one of the biggest benefits of sitting out on your porch is to enjoy the view. A screen won’t block the view entirely, but it definitely obscures it. If you love the way your trees and plants look and you want them to remain a visual part of your porch experience, then installing screens could get in the way.
Con: It costs more to build.
A screened porch requires more materials and time to build than an open porch. As such, you can expect it to cost more. But when weighing costs, you should always consider the benefits you could get from that extra expense. If you build an open porch and never use it because of bugs, then it won’t be worth the money you spend. Working with an experienced contractor can help you create a realistic budget for a screened porch project, so it’s worth talking to a professional before you rule it out based on cost.
The Pros of an Open Porch
Pro: More affordable to build.
If a screened porch costs more, then it follows that an open porch costs less. Adding an open porch to your home is a little simpler than a screened porch, and an easier project with fewer components means a bit less spending.
Pro: You get more of a view.
If getting rid of bugs is the main reason most people choose screened, this is probably the biggest reason people go with an open porch. It puts you closer to nature. It allows you more of a view of your yard’s greenery and any birds or butterflies that flit through. And open porches are great for watching sunrises or sunsets (assuming the porch is facing in the right direction).
Pro: You don’t have to do as much maintenance.
While open porches require more cleaning, they require less ongoing maintenance. Screened porch maintenance is important to keep your screened porch looking good and working well for years to come. Most screened porch maintenance tasks don’t take a ton of time or need to be done that often (and you can save yourself work by choosing low-maintenance materials before you build). But if you’re the kind of person that hates doing occasional maintenance, then it’s a factor worth considering.
The Cons of an Open Porch
Con: It’s affected more by the elements.
An open screened porch is going to get the full effects of the weather. You have to plan for your furniture to get wet during rainstorms, for any light items you leave on the porch to blow away on windy days, and for exposure to pollen during the spring. That puts some limitations on what you can do and keep on your porch, and how often you can use it.
Con: You get more of any unpleasant sights and sounds.
While you get more of the view of nature, you also get more of any sights or sounds in your neighborhood that are a nuisance. If there’s construction happening nearby, you’re faced with a view of the machinery. If you’re right next to a busy road, that can mean car noises and the sound of sirens. A screened porch won’t keep out all potential noises, but it can dull them more than no screens at all.
Con: There’s no protection from allergens.
Anyone with seasonal allergies knows how much they can take over your life for months out of the year. Much of the joy of going outside is ruined if it leads to itchiness, sinus issues, or exhaustion. A screened porch lets you be outside while providing a barrier between you and the allergens that make you miserable.
There’s not one right answer to the question of screened porch vs open porch. Every person that considers adding a porch to their home will have unique priorities. Weigh what matters most to you.
If you could use more information to make a decision or want to start putting the details of a new porch project into place, set up a free consultation with a Charlotte construction professional. We can help you make the best choices to ensure you enjoy your porch for years to come.