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How to Prevent Water Damage to Your Screened Porch

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Screened porches can add a lot of charm and value to a home. They can be used for social gatherings, as a quiet place to reflect, or allow you to enjoy an outdoor sheltered picnic without the bugs. But like the rest of your home, you want to make sure it's protected from water damage. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before the construction begins so you'll have a porch that will last a lifetime.

Keeping Water Out

Houses are built with the intention of keeping water completely out. But with a screened porch, you really have to design it with the expectation that some water will get in. So it basically boils down to keeping out as much water as you can.

First, make sure your porch has a large overhang. They'll provide more of a shelter to the space beneath it, allowing for a buffer between the weather and you. Additionally, building a hipped roof will give you even more protection. Hipped roofs slope diagonally on all sides, providing an overhang all the way around and allowing you to install gutters on all sides as well. And as you know, gutters will catch the rain and drain it away from your property.

The second way to keep water from entering your porch is by protecting it from the wind. Therefore, you really need to know where your winds primarily come from. For instance, if you live in Seattle, WA, winds usually come from the south. So if you plan to build a screened gable porch—one with two sides as opposed to the hipped roof style—you should avoid building one that faces the south as the winds will drive the rain inside your porch.

Providing Adequate Drainage

Now that you know how to keep as much water out as possible, it's time to learn how to get that water draining.

If the floor is cement or tile, make sure it's sloped, and put in a drain that channels water away from your home. You'll also want to be sure that the ground beneath your porch slopes (if the floor is elevated) to allow water to drain away from your property. And lastly, don't slope it so that water drains against the wind. Obviously, you'll have to use common sense with this, especially if you have a lot of hills on your property.

If you go with a deck floor, you can put spaces between the boards for super easy draining. And if you use tongue-and-groove wood floors, the boards should run in the same direction as the slope. If not, you might find that water gets stuck in the tiny cracks in between.

Lastly, leaving a small gap underneath the porch walls will allow water to freely flow out, and it will provide for additional air flow to dry the porch. 

Preventing Floor Rot

Since you don't have to worry about cement or tile floors rotting, you need to know what kind of wood to use if you go with this as your flooring. 

In general, pressure-treated wood avoids rot from both water and insects, making it a popular choice for a number of home additions. But keep in mind that you will still need to apply a sealant to keep it from succumbing to normal "weathering."

As far as wood types, southern yellow pine is by far the most popular choice for decks, and a lot of people like it for porches, too. There is a bit of variation among different species of pine, and as a result, they may take stain differently. To avoid a drastic change from one beam to the next, be sure to get all your pieces from the same lumber yard.

Mahogany is one of the more superior choices since it's naturally rot resistant. It was commonly used in boats before fiberglass came along and stole the show. It also contains fewer knots than any other wood type, making it aesthetically pleasing.

Redwood is another popular choice as it resists warping and shrinking, tends to stay flat, and is pretty much maintenance free.

When it comes to choosing the right materials and designing a porch that will last for years to come, be sure to speak with a contractor who can help you make the right decision for your home. Learn more by contacting services like Hufnagel Landscaping Inc.