For many, an enclosed porch can mean different things. For some it is a place to hang out in the summer to enjoy the warm weather but be protected from the sun. The question is, what is going to happen to it in the winter when it is too cold to sit outdoors. Will it be a useless space until spring rolls around or can you make it livable all four seasons?
Benefits of an Enclosed Porch
Having an enclosed porch is a great recreational space where you can unwind or just go to have a moment’s peace to read or enjoy a cup of coffee. It is also a place for children to play or extra space for guests and family when having a large family gathering.
The walls are usually screened so they protect you from uncooperative weather and pests. With an insulated enclosed porch, you have a place to go and watch it snow without being out in it. You can also use it as a place to put your Christmas tree.
With it enclosed, you can enjoy it in comfort without having to worry about bundling up to sit there. The area will be nice and warm and inviting.
What to Consider When Building an Enclosed Porch
If you already have an enclosed porch then you do not have to worry about these things but if you don’t have an enclosed porch and want to add one, this information is for you.
Zoning laws and building codes: Before you start to build your enclosed porch, you will need to apply for a building permit. If you are hiring a professional, they should know to get these permits but it is best to check to make sure they do.
The zoning laws and building codes vary from area to area so make sure you check with your local building authority to find out what you need.
Space requirement: Before you get your permit or material, be sure that you have measured where you are going to build the porch. You want to make sure you have space and that you will have enough leftover yard space to entertain, and the children to play in.
Resale value and curb appeal: When building an enclosed porch yourself or hiring a professional, it is going to be a significant investment. You want to make sure that it adds to the beauty and resale value of your home if you resell it, whether it is a front or back enclosed porch.
How to Insulate an Enclosed Porch
There is not much sense or energy savings to enclosing an unheated porch. If your porch is not heated you might have to find alternative ways to heat it if you decide to go ahead and insulate it. The big plus for insulating an enclosed front porch is that it will prevent the cold air from seeping into your porch. This could give you a few more weeks to enjoy the porch before the really cold air sets in.
When insulating the enclosed porch, you want to think about insulating not just the walls but also the roof and floor.
Step 1: To keep the cold out, you are going to essentially need thermally efficient glazed windows and doors. If your porch is encased in screens, you can replace the screens with standard panels of glass or add glass all around on top of the screens.
Make sure that the seals between the frames and the glass are all tight. If you feel any air coming in, you should get some rolled insulation foam or fabric to put in the openings. You can also use polyurethane calking. Consider hanging thick curtains over the glass panels.
These heavy curtains keep a room warmer plus help to keep drafts from getting into the room. You should also consider a heavy rug on the floor.
Step 2: The next step in the insulation project is the floor. If the floor is made of wood, check for spacing in between the slabs. If you see some, you are going to have to follow the same procedure above. With the floor though, it will have to be sealed with insulation foam.
If you want to go the extra expense, you can rip up the wooden floor and install strips of insulation and put a new floor on top of it. If you can afford to do this, it would look better and insulate the floor more than just sealing the openings with insulated foam between the cracks.
You can also crawl under the porch and insulate the floors from below. All you have to do is nail sheets of plywood against the floor above. You would hold it in place with nails or using chicken wire. This way the insulation will fit snuggly and prevent any air from getting through.
Step 3: If you have the money to invest and the time, consider insulating the roof of the porch. This is a little more difficult to deal with because you will need a venting space. It needs to be between the underside of the sheathing of the roof and the layer of insulation.
Space will already be there if you have a slanted roof so all you will need to do is get the foam in place. If not you will probably have to hire a contractor to build the underside where you would put the insulation.
How to Heat Your Enclosed Porch
If you do not have the money to insulate your enclosed porch but still want to take advantage of the space year-round, there are ways you can keep this area warm. The best way to heat an insulated enclosed porch is to install electric radiant heating under the floor. This is the most efficient way.
Even if you live in a cold climate, the heated floor will make your porch enjoyable and usable. Radiant heat is a safe, clean, and economical alternative to other heating systems. You can also use baseboard heaters, electric space heater, or electric fireplaces.
Other ways you can heat your enclosed porch includes:
- Insulate curtains
- Under rug radiant heater
- Seasonal wall panels that are insulated
- Ceiling fan with a reversible direction
- Weather stripping
- Remodel it into a 3 season room
- Door sweep insulation
- Drop down panels
It is not recommended that you use propane patio heaters because, with these, you need good ventilation. You should also not use oil filled radiant heaters because, with these, it would take too long to heat up the enclosed porch.
If you have an enclosed you want to be able to take advantage of using it in all four seasons. The best way to do that is to insulate the space. This does not mean just the walls but you should try to insulate the floor and ceiling also. It can be time-consuming but worth it, whether you do it or hire a professional.
Weigh the pros and cons of having an insulated enclosed porch and then make your decision based on your budget and how much you will use the enclosed porch. You also can increase the resale value of your home if you sell because an insulated enclosed porch gives you an extra room.