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Ah, the good ol’ summer porch. It’s not just for summer anymore.
Upgrading porches has been gaining popularity over the last couple of stay-at-home pandemic years: In fact, homeowners spent 25 percent more to improve them, according to the 2021 U.S. Houzz & Home Study. And the usual way to upgrade your porch is by enclosing it — that is, covering the traditional open-air sides, offering protection from inclement weather and insects.
Basically, the more often you want to use your porch — the more like a regular room you want it to be — the more the enclosure costs. Just screening in an existing porch could cost as little as $600, or as much as $3,510 with the national average being $1,215 (about $4.50 per square foot). Fancier types of enclosure — ones that make the porch suitable for all seasons — can run much higher though: from $5,000 to $60,000, with the national average being $13,179 (about $70 per square foot). Your choices on materials, styles, and size also will strongly influence the final price tag for the project.
Types of enclosed porches
Enclosed porches come in three basic varieties. Three- and four-season porches are often referred to as sunrooms.
This is the most plain-vanilla, relatively quick and inexpensive approach to enclosing your porch: just adding screens to the sides. Screening in your porch will protect the area from critters and bugs, and keep the rain out. On the downside, there’s no climate control, so it won’t extend the seasonality of the porch that much.
3-season (windowed or walled-in)
With this style, your porch is walled or windowed to protect it from the elements, and it also improves temperature regulation: The closed windows can trap heat in, or on warmer days, they can be opened to allow a breeze into the porch. However, because these porches aren’t insulated, they won’t be usable in the dead of winter, and they could be cold on nippier days.
4-season (insulated, incorporates HVAC)
A fully insulated porch takes the advantages of the others and adds the benefit of climate control: You can connect your porch to your home’s HVAC system and fully regulate the temperature. These porches have insulation in the walls, and preferably insulate the windows as well. In short, the porch becomes like a regular room. The downside of four-season porches is that they cost more, have a more complex build process, and take longer to build than the alternatives.
What influences the cost of enclosing a porch?
The type of enclosed porch you decide on plays a significant role in the final costs, partly because of the materials and labor differences between these styles. Still, there are other factors to consider too.
Type of enclosed porch
- Screened-in: $1,215 to $2,800 is the national average cost range, according to HomeGuide and HomeAdvisor.
- Three-season: $10,000 to $40,000 is the average cost range, according to HomeGuide.
- Four-season: $25,000 to $80,000 is the average cost range, according to HomeGuide.
Materials have a wide cost range depending on the purpose and type.
- Screened-in porch: Materials cost $600 to $3,210, according to HomeGuide. We’re talking mainly about the screen mesh here, which varies significantly by price per square foot — from fiberglass (15 cents) to copper ($6.50). Other popular materials include vinyl-coated polyester mesh (58 cents), bronze (85 cents) and stainless steel ($1).
- Three-season: $5,000 to $30,000, according to HomeAdvisor. Materials for a three-season room enclosure can vary, but generally include framing materials and windows, at a minimum. Windows can run from $150 at the lower tier, up to over $1,000 at the high end. Lumber costs for framing varies, but generally will be only a small portion compared to the windows.
- Four-season: $15,000 to $60,000, according to HomeAdvisor. Four-season rooms include all of the material costs of a three-season, but with extra materials required. These enclosures utilize insulation in the walls, and may tend towards higher priced insulated windows. Wall insulation costs range from 20 cents to $1.50 per square foot depending on the material used and how thick it is. Common options include fiberglass batting (30 cents to $1.50), spray foam (50 cents to $2), and rigid cell foam (25 cents to $2).
Labor represents a significant portion of the cost to enclose a porch, although less than materials in many cases. The style and size of the porch has a strong impact on the amount of labor required, but you can expect labor generally to make up 20 to 40 percent of the total cost. Homeowners should expect to spend $4,000 to $20,000 on labor, depending on the project.
Other types of porch enclosure costs
Obviously, the size of your porch influences the price tag: the bigger the porch, the more materials you’ll need and the more time it’ll take the laborers.
Whether the site needs to be cleared and prepared — for instance, if you need to have trees or other barriers to building removed — also adds to the final cost.
Permits are also generally required to enclose a porch, especially a four-season job; they generally run a few hundred dollars.
Cheap ways to enclose a porch
Some aspects of an enclosed porch can be achieved without much expenditure or labor. Hanging curtains, putting up hedges, or installing some lattice work on the sides can help create privacy and aesthetics without breaking the bank. These upgrades may not keep out weather and bugs, but they can still make a significant difference in how a porch looks and feels.
The bottom line on enclosing a porch
A porch upgrade may serve as an investment in your home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will add to the value of your home. Most home improvement return-on-investment analyses don’t single out porches, per se. Still, any remodel that increases living space generally does boost home value, so if enclosing your porch in effect turns it into an additional room, that can be a good thing. A smart remodel can also increase a house’s curb appeal.
If you decide on a porch enclosure, the first step is to consider cost, vis-a-vis what you want to use the porch for. The more benefits the enclosure style has, the more an enclosed porch costs — but the more enjoyment you may get out of it, too.