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How Much Does a Screened Porch Cost Compared to a Deck?

James Moylan

Thursday, April 09, 2015

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How to budget for a screened porch addition and keep your costs down

Fact: Screened rooms cost roughly twice the amount of money to build than decks. If you're given a $20,000 estimate to construct a backyard deck in Maryland, you can safely double that to $40,000 for a realistic glimpse at what adding a screened-in porch would look like in the same area.

Screened porches, despite the premium, do provide a proportionally greater value for the higher price. While there are situational variations - you could be screening in an existing open-air deck or open patio, for example - you should generally budget anywhere from $100 to $150 per square foot depending on the materials and amenities you want to include in your design, with $125 being the median price. Prices can go even higher depending on how extravagant you'd like to get.

Why do screened additions cost more? This is a question we love to hear and is one that any discerning homeowner would make before committing to such a large, permanent investment. However, If sticker shock alone compels you to reevaluate your plans, then a screen room is not ideal for you to begin with.

Where the extra money goes in a screened porch design

  1. A screened-in porch has to have a roof that is built to code and matches the roof of your house both aesthetically and in quality. Why? Because you don’t want a section of roof that looks out of place hanging off the back of your house, and because if you experience any problems with the roof of your screened-in porch, you’ll end up having similar issues with the roof over your house. In other words, this is something that costs money to get right.

  2. Walls and door. While they may not be as much as they would if you were adding a typical extra room onto your house, the walls and door of a screened-in porch definitely add to the cost. How much depends largely on you because, for example, you can go with a simple door or a more extravagant sliding door.

  3. When a porch is screened-in, it essentially becomes another room. You can add a ceiling fan. Recessed lighting. Outlets and cable jacks for a television or other forms of entertainment. Depending on the extent of the electrical work you want done, your price tag can really go up.

How to Keep Costs Down and Get a Better ROI

In DC metro area, people aren’t as interested in regular open-air decks; they want screened-in porches. Why? Because our weather and particularly the area’s bug population demand it. If you want to use your space nine month of the year, you need a screened-in porch.

So what can you do to keep your costs down and make sure you get a better return on your investment? In general, the best advice is to go easy on the bells and whistles. Not only will this keep the price tag reasonable, it will make your deck more attractive if you’re interested in selling your home. Buyers will be able to customize the deck however they wish rather than living with your “personal touches.”

With that in mind, here are some things you can do to keep your screened-in porch simple, attractive, and within your budget.

Dial down on the wattage. If you want riser lights, recessed lighting, and a home theater in your screened-in porch, it’s going to cost you – and others may not want a deck with all those extras. Unless you simply must have that extra electrical work done, go low key with a basic ceiling fan and light switch.

Stay away from high-end, low maintenance decking. Expensive synthetic decking is a fantastic option for people who don’t want to do much to keep their deck looking good and plan to be in their home for years to come. But if you plan to sell in the near future, going high-end just isn’t a smart investment.

Remember that size matters. Obviously you want your deck to be large enough so that you, family members, and friends can enjoy it, but is there really that big of a difference between a 20’x20’ deck and one that is 16’x16’? Yes – at least in terms of price. Smaller is always cheaper, and there are a lot of design choices available that can make the available space you have feel bigger.

So is the investment in a screened-in porch worth it? For most of us in the D.C./Maryland area, the answer is yes – both in terms of return on your investment and enjoying its use.

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