FAQs Porches and Patios
Can I enclose my concrete patio?
Quite a few factors need to go into consideration here but perhaps the most important is whether the patio is sitting on any type of foundation. The vast majority of patios are simply constructed as slabs placed directly on grade without any provision to limit seasonal movement due to soil expansion/contraction or freeze/ thaw cycling. Without the patio being stabilized from this sort of movement it would be ill-advised and outside many building codes to allow any structure to be built on the patio. That being said, it isn’t all that unusual or difficult to add a foundation or piers(structural columns at specific intervals) around the patio or slab to not only support the slab if desired but to also provide the necessary footing or foundation for any structure to be built above grade. Beyond the foundation considerations, there are many ways to go about constructing the floor systems or simply using the patio as the floor. The design/build remodeler can help you decide what design parameters are important to address since there are so many options available.
Will a portico entry make my house look better?
Not only will it look better but the entry will instantly become more durable since protection at doorways and entrances is important in so many climates. Working with a designer can be invaluable as there might be opportunities to do cost effective enhancements and possibly even a flush entry which is a transparent feature that is highly functional as well. Portico entries, depending on size and amount of finishing details can make these improvements expensive so working with a pro is the best way to maximize the look and function while keeping the project affordable. A final note: since so many of these usually are on the front of the home, there is always a chance that some zoning or architectural review may be necessary. Your experienced builder/remodeler will know exactly what inquiry needs to be completed to insure the project can be built to your specifications.
What options do I have for my porch floor?
Porch floors are difficult buggers to keep and maintain in tip-top form. Let’s assume for this discussion we are talking about floors with a more traditional look. Older porch floors seemed to have fared far better over many years on a porch than the materials we have at our disposal today. It is probably a combination of better, more mature woods being used (especially old growth fir) and the paints of old that probably lasted longer and were far more durable. Honestly, porch flooring selection is harder today than ever before. The different species of woods are still out there but the quality is always a consideration as noted above. Composite floors (a combination of wood products and synthetic binders) are there too but at a higher price point. Full synthetics like cellular PVC is also available but at the highest cost. It should be noted that the composite and synthetics cannot be painted so that is limited to non-historically related replacements or new builds. Wood on the other hand allows for painting, and for that matter, usually lots of it. Floors due to their location take on a lot of weathering and abuse. With less hardy, newer wood and subpar finishes available, it stands to reason these surfaces will need lots of care. The more flooring that is undercover and not directly exposed to the weather, the better long term performance you will have with any type of these floors. One last thing, avoid pressure treated porch flooring, especially the tongue and groove type. The way this wood is graded, sawn and treated will yield you nothing but problems with movement and the cosmetic look over time. Kiln dried after treatment (KDAT) wood is an option but still falls short of what most people would consider average look and performance. If the budget is wide open, consider the full synthetic if you can accept the stock colors available. As of this writing, there are no composites or synthetics that will take any type of paint or stain, at least long-term. Bottom line- link up with a pro and know exactly what the pros and cons are of any and all selections. This is a tough subject to fully comprehend all the options that are out there.
What is a Florida room, the same as a three season?
Yes, really they are one in the same as far as the building code is concerned. These rooms may be named differently but basically they are attached to a heated structure but are either non-conditioned space or conditioned space that is regulated separately from the main living space. The key is that there is a thermal barrier between the two spaces, that is, there is an exterior door and an insulated wall separation. That way, the Florida room acts independently from the conditioned space, allowing it to be open to the outside without putting a heating or cooling load on the home’s furnace or air conditioner. This doesn’t mean a Florida room or three season room can’t have its own furnace or AC, it can as long as it’s separate from the home’s heating or cooling. Some local building codes might allow the space to be conditioned by the main furnace or AC as long as it can be shut off or zoned by dampers to restrict air flow into that area when it is open to the exterior. This gives the best of both worlds, bringing the outside “in” when the weather is nice and allows the space to be used in more extreme temperatures by utilizing supplemental heating and/or cooling. As with all conditioned space it is important to insulate this space well if you intend to use it with the backup heating or cooling. An experienced designer will be able to provide the proper guidance on maximizing the relative efficiency of the space for your particular needs and climate.
Are there different screening types/systems?
Long gone are the days when screen is stretched across an opening and stapled to the screen porch wood framing and capped with screen molding. There are lots of proprietary screen systems out there that look really good and are highly functional. In fact, a nice system simply employs window screen frames that are custom fit to a particular opening and are installed against some type of fixed stop. An advantage to this is that someone could swap these out in the cooler weather with glass or plastic storm panels and instantly have a three season structure that would keep out some or perhaps all of the rain, snow and wind.
Permanently applied screen tracks made of vinyl or aluminum are another possibility and offer ease of installation as well as ease of replacement if the screen panel ends up in need of replacement. Most of these proprietary systems are prefinished, requiring no additional finishing once installation is complete. Price can come into play here with all the different but cool choices. In the know remodelers can help you through the decision making process of balancing look, convenience and budget.
What are maintenance free materials I might use?
No one wants to spend more time on keeping up their home than is absolutely necessary. It’s way more fun to spend time with family or brush up on that golf stroke. That being said, it makes sense to look at all the material available these days that offer durability and low maintenance. It’s easy to assume these would be limited to just the exterior of your home but actually low or no maintenance materials can be found and selected for almost area of your place. Consider items like faucet that rarely require a cartridge or valve seal to be replaced. What about granite countertops that have been guaranteed sealed for 10 years? Factory pre-finished floors that have thicker clear coats than sand in place floors. Consider LED bulbs, especially in hard to reach areas such as high ceilings, stairwells and outside floods. The list is long and growing both inside and outside the home as we seek products and materials that not only look good and are affordable, but also will stand the test of time. On the exterior, so much has come onto the market in high quality, durable sidings and trim materials that will last as long as the home stands. There are new types of roofing materials that will out-perform asphalt and fiberglass shingles. Window and doors have frames, finishes and hardware components that will far outlast typical selections. As more long-lasting, value driven products invade the marketplace it is almost impossible to keep up with the offerings, let alone make an informed decision. This is where the pro becomes a valuable partner. Experienced remodelers work with all sorts of materials, both good and not so good. We get the calls to fix product failures or poor installations. From this we gain an appreciation for what works well and what should be avoided at all costs. This is a key reason to work with seasoned vets who can advise accordingly on what really is a durable, low or no maintenance product versus something that perhaps has a track record as an under-performer.