Extend summer with a screened-in deck or porch

Have you ever had your relaxing moment on the deck disrupted by a pesky wasp? Or have you been bombarded by mosquitoes when all you’re trying to do is just enjoy a nice dinner with friends? Can you say “Manitoba”?

Decks and porches are fantastic — no doubt about it! They let us relax, work, and entertain while enjoying the fresh air and sunlight, which can help boost your mood and get you a dose of vitamin D. But, bugs driving us back inside are an unfortunate part of being outdoors.

If you want uninterrupted deck or patio time, here are three screen solutions to keep the insects and rodents at bay.

A pop-up tent

If you want a temporary method for screening in your deck and turning it into a bug-free sanctuary, consider purchasing a pop-up tent with screen walls — an affordable option compared to the next two methods below. Depending on the size and style, you’re looking at spending a few hundred dollars. These tents can be found at a lot of outdoor or home and hardware stores.

There are a few things you’ll need to consider with this option:

• Size Make sure the tent is large enough so people can comfortably move around inside of it. Try to find a tent that covers most of your deck or patio.

• Setup and storage Since this is a temporary solution, it’s important to consider how difficult it is to set up, and whether you’ll be willing to do it on a nightly (or weekly, depending on the weather and your tent’s sturdiness) basis. Also, keep in mind your available storage space. When you’re not using the tent, where can you keep it?

• Shape Try and find a tent with a rectangular shape rather than rounded or pointed. The latter takes away from the usable space in your tent with narrowing walls.

While you shouldn’t operate your barbecue beneath a canopy tent, this type of setup can allow you to enjoy a dinner party or afternoon work session with all kinds of shade and fresh air — minus the pesky bugs.

Outdoor curtains and gazebos

While outdoor curtains won’t seal you in quite as tight as a tent or a fully screened-in porch, they will offer a deterrent to small critters and bugs. You’ll get some protection against the elements, while still enjoying airflow and the feeling of being outside.

Make sure you’re not selecting any old curtain. You’ll need a waterproof, made-for-the-outdoors material, which is often a type of polyester. You can get outdoor curtains from various retailers and install them yourself as a pretty straightforward DIY. Panels start at around $25 and go up from there. You’ll also need to budget for the hanging hardware, whether it’s heavy-duty wire or curtain rods. Make sure the curtains are weighted at the bottom to keep them from blowing around in the breeze.

You could also opt for a more structural approach, like a gazebo with mesh walls. You can get versions with walls that roll up or fold back for times you’re just looking for overhead coverage. If you do choose this option, you’ll need to consider what will happen with the gazebo in the winter. Some can withstand heavy snow and others can’t, for example, steel versus canvas.

Fully screened in

This is the most intensive of the three options, and could require a lot more work depending on whether you have a pre-built awning and weight bearing post structure. If you do, then you just need enough screen to wrap around your porch — you can find this at any home hardware store. The amount needed and type (aluminum, fibreglass or polyester) will determine your costs, as well as if you’re doing it yourself or calling in a contractor. 

Use a staple gun to attach the screen to the posts and cover them with wood trim for a cleaner finish. Depending on how far apart your posts are, you may need to add more non-weight bearing posts in between so you can keep the screen taut. If you’re comfortable, this could be a weekend DIY project.

If you need to build a roof and install posts, be sure you do your research on whether or not a permit is required. There’s a good chance one is required, especially if you’re doing a larger area or adding a screen door to your porch. Check your municipal and provincial building permit requirements before you begin building.

If you don’t have a deck or patio at all, there will be even more to consider, starting with the type of deck or patio you want, contacting the correct contractor to get the job done, whether or not you require permits for your build, and the budget you’d like to stay within. Do your research if you’re building from the ground up!

Time to enjoy your screened-in deck

Screening in the porch or deck will allow you to extend your summer days and evenings and create a space you’ll never want to leave! Do your research, set your budget, and either enjoy tackling this DIY yourself or kick back, relax in the sunshine, and leave it to the professionals.

— Realtor.ca