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Screened Porches, Open Porches and Outdoor Decks: An Honest Comparison

Spring is here; and for those of us who’ve just come through another cold winter, a long stretch of comfortable weather awaits. It will be six months (or more) until temperatures drop low and the snow flies again. For many homeowners, this is a great feeling. It inspires many people to think about outdoor projects and even home additions that could enhance the enjoyment of the Spring, Summer and Fall months.

But when you really start to look at the home additions available for outdoor enjoyment, things can get a little foggy. You have screened porches, open porches, outdoor decks, pergolas and gazebos. All of these are fairly common — but what are the practical differences, and which one is right for you?

We’re going to focus here on screened porches, open porches, and outdoor decks.

Garden with patio at night

Screened porches

Screened porches are also known as “three-season” porches, for exactly the reasons described in the beginning of this article. People tend to use them during Spring, Summer and Fall — during the winter, it may be too cold to get much use of them. They provide a breezy, comfortable living space that’s protected from insects and elements — although dust can be an issue. Hard rains can also cause water to enter through the screens. Many three-season porches have proper windows that can be opened or closed, or screens that can be “swapped” for glass as needed. This can provide an extra element of security and comfort, depending on the season.

Open porches

An open porch is usually (but not always) covered; the design concepts are endless. But since they’re “open,” they aren’t screened in. Homeowners will be less likely to use open porches when there are a lot of insects around, or when temperatures are too extreme. Open porches can, however, create a nice connection between your home and the natural surroundings. They’re also generally more affordable to build, since they don’t have walls. Open porches can work well for entertaining and even outdoor cooking.

Outdoor decks

Outdoor decks are similar to outdoor porches, except decks are necessarily raised from the ground, and built either from wood/plastic composites or natural wood. Outdoor decks are generally not covered. As a result, they’re more exposed to the elements. People are getting more bold with outdoor decks, using them as multi-functional living spaces for exercise, entertaining and even cooking. Some outdoor decks have full kitchens and built-in seating.

What’s the best option for you?

Knowing what kind of indoor/outdoor addition you want to go for can be confusing. It really depends on your individual goals, possible effects on property value, what works best with your unique property and landscape, and how much money you want to invest. Screened porches, open porches, and outdoor decks all have pros and cons. Talking to a professional who is experienced (and reputable) in home additions is a good first step. The more knowledge you’re able to acquire, the better your chances of making a choice you’ll be happy with over the long term.