Screened-In Porches: How to Build the ‘Muskoka Room’ of Your Dreams
A screened-in porch is a wonderful way to get all the joy of the outdoors with none of the bugs. Here are the first steps you should take when considering a screened-in porch.
- Choose whether your new Muskoka Room will be an addition to your existing house, or a new, free-standing structure.
Consider where you get the best view, where you get the nicest breezes, or which location will get the most sun. Depending on what you decide, the regulations around construction will be different: you won’t need a permit for a freestanding structure that’s 100 SF or smaller, while both permits and licensed design are required for anything larger than that (whether freestanding or addition.) You should also double-check your town/cities bylaws as they vary from region to region.
- Think about what you’d like to do in this space.
Will it be for quiet, sitting and reading time? For dinner? For relaxing on a porch swing, watching the sunset? Maybe a little bit of everything? What you do in the space will dictate what the space looks like, so it’s a great place to start. You’ll know whether you need to install electrical outlets, lights, fans, or include a water supply before you start building.
- Consider weather-proofing.
Since your new Muskoka Room should be weatherproof, you’ll need to consider the prevailing winds and rain protection before building. Consider opting for Weatherwall windows, which combine the magic of a screened-in porch with the rain protection of windows, they also reduce wind and pollen! If Weatherwall windows aren’t your preference, you’ll need to invest in weatherproofing covers over the screens as protection from the elements. Think of it as the 2018 reboot of Grandma’s shutters!
- Consider how high it will be off the ground.
Any structure that’s more than 2’ off the ground will need a railing to be up to code, so you’ll need to include that in your design/build. The bad news is that these railings typically intersect right at eye level when you are seated, but the good news is that there are plenty of creative ways to deal with this using glass, wood, or aluminum products. So don’t dismay!
- Think about your interior finishes + lighting.
If your Muskoka Room is above the ground, good quality decking will work just fine, with screening installed underneath to keep the bugs out. For a beautiful, unique look, consider opting for cedar or burnt ash decking, or go with painted pine flooring for a retro vibe. If your Muskoka Room is installed on ground level, opt for stamped concrete, or outdoor floor tiles, or granite. Keep in mind, though, that all wall and ceiling coverings will need to be weatherproof; cedar is beautiful and hardy and can be stained, or the painted pine we mentioned is also weathersafe if sealed. If you need to include interior/exterior lighting, now is the time to figure out what you need and what your style is.
- Finally, think about heating.
Traditionally, Muskoka Rooms are unheated, but if this is going to be an all-season space you might want to add a feature wall with a stone fireplace, or include a wood-burning stove so you can enjoy it all year round. Just imagine reading your book next to a cozy fire on a chilly fall evening!