Friday, May 29, 2015

Designing and Planning your Screened in Porch Project

A Screen Porch: The Best Of Both Worlds

As a kid, my favorite place to sit was on the stairs, halfway up, like Kermit. Neither up nor down. I loved being able to see into both the upstairs world and survey the ground floor comings and goings. There’s something to be said for these ‘best of both worlds’ living spaces in a home – and screen porches are one of the most charming. Sometimes you just want to be in and out. You want shelter and sunlight. You want to watch the world go by without being in the wind. You want to watch nature without being eaten alive by it. And sometimes you just want to be away from your family members!
Designed well and built with quality in mind, screen porches can add valuable embellishment to your property and boost its curbside appeal. Plus they’re much easier than open porches to keep clean and ready for use, since you don’t have to sweep away leaves and other debris. Bear in mind though: pollen and snow can still get through.

Planning your screen porch

So what are the practical things to consider when building a screen porch? Like adding any new room to your home, think about creating a seamless transition to and from the new zone. Planning where to put it and what materials to use should be top of your list of considerations:

1. Location

Screen porches make great transitional spaces betweenyour yard and your house. You can connect them to a deck or patio to create fantastic social spaces for parties, barbecues and playrooms. To extend the season for a screen porch and make the most of the sun in the cooler months, choose a south-facing spot for your screen porch.

2. Light and air

Getting light into a screen porch itself is not usually a concern, but adjacent rooms can be in danger of being dimmed. If you’re building a screen porch near or next to another room, consider the impact: will your newly added roof diminish block light or airflow or both? If possible,add skylights or position the new porch next to a room that has another window. You could retain existing windows as part of the new screen porch, so the internal room can still benefit from borrowed light and air.

3. Accessibility

Even if you and your family don’t have currently mobility issues, you need to consider safety, longevity and salability when building your screen porch. Make sure the floor is at the same level as the floor in the rest of your home. This simple step will service to prevent falls and allow wheelchair access. Install a door with sufficient width for a wheelchair too.

4. Materials

Jutting out on the side, rear or front of a house, screen porches come in for more than their fair share of weathering. This little room needs to withstand the worst of the elements: storm, rain, wind, extreme cold, extreme heat, the weight of snow and ice. But that doesn’t mean it has to look like a nuclear bunker!
For the ceiling and floor, natural woods like fir and cedar look stunning and can blend in beautifully with the surrounding nature. For a lower maintenance product, you can ask your contractor about composite materials like Azek and Kleer. Many of our clients choose to use  composite on the outside and a more natural substance on the inside.The most durable screened porches are this perfect combination of function and form.

5. Features

Avoid that flat-pack, ‘porch out-of-a-box’ look by adding a few architectural features to your new room such as a high ceiling, a fireplace, decorative latticework or a stunning tile floor. Touches like these make any room appear lived-in, much larger and more loved.

6. Extending the season

Apart from those in extreme winter climates, most of our clients choose a 3-season screen porch. This means they’re happy to feel the autumn chill and perhaps use the space less during the winter – or just wrap up more warmly. With a little planning though it is possible to extend the season for your porch and use it even when the temperature drops. You can either have removable glass panels made to fit your screened openings, or ask your contractor to build the porch with storm-screen combo units.
So if like me, you find yourself drawn to those little halfway spaces, extend your comfort zone with a new screen porch. These little rooms add a lot of value and allow you to enjoy the fun of the outdoors with all the coziness of being indoors.
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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Check your Deck!

Check Your Deck!

By Staff Editor
Apr 29, 2015 - 2:26:29 PM

( - QUAKERTOWN, PA - Your deck is the perfect place to enjoy warm weather with friends and loved ones. However, a poorly maintained or unsafe deck could possibly collapse, causing serious injuries to you and your guests. During Deck Safety Month® in May, experts at the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) recommend homeowners Check Your Deck® before starting to plan family activities.

"Our number one priority and message to the public is to ensure that the decks they use are safe," says Michael Beaudry, executive vice president of NADRA. "Outdoor structures like decks are exposed to sun, rain, snow and extreme temperature changes over the years. The need to maintain and inspect them is critical for keeping decks strong and safe."

NADRA has created campaigns and educational programs, along with certifications for home inspectors, deck builders, remodelers, builders, code officials, engineers, architects, distributors, lumberyards and manufacturers to improve proper installation practices. The organization has also developed checklists and safety awareness information for consumers to assure they have details available to them to evaluate their decks. The information can be found at
With an estimated 40 million residential and 10 million commercial decks in the United States that are more than 20-30 years old, it's important for homeowners to check their deck on a yearly basis.

Consumer Checklist

A key element to enjoying your deck for years to come is making sure it is safe and code compliant. NADRA's "10-Point Consumer Safety Checklist" is an efficient way to take a good look at the different parts of your deck, with an eye to what might need maintenance, repair or replacement. The checklist can be found at

Homeowners should consider a professional deck inspection. "A professional inspector will thoroughly examine your deck, provide information on your deck's capacity limits, identify any dangerous problem areas and give you some insight of what to keep your eye on in the future," says Beaudry. "NADRA provides industry professionals with a Deck Evaluation Form that is available at"

Older decks require closer scrutiny and regular inspections. Many decks were built before code requirements were established to protect consumers. Some of these older decks may have deck-to-house attachments using only nails instead of the current recommended construction using deck tension hardware that greatly helps in the prevention of ledger failures.
"We recommend ASHI-certified home inspectors or a knowledgeable deck builder for inspections of older decks," says Beaudry. "Our NADRA member deck builders are required to adhere to a code of ethics and comply with state licensing and insurance requirements. This brings peace of mind to homeowners using our NADRA members."
Deck inspection requires special knowledge, expertise and experience. NADRA offers training and certification for its members along with ASHI home inspectors and others interested in professional deck inspection. For additional information on NADRA certification classes, visit
The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the necessity for regular inspection and maintenance of existing decks and proper installation of new decks. For more information visit
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