How To Screen In A Patio: DIY Guide


Screening in your patio is a great way to enjoy your summer outside without dealing with bugs flying all around you or giving you bug bites. Though it may seem like an overwhelming project, you can do it as long as you follow the simple steps we will go over in this article.

Keep reading to find the right tools, materials, and easy steps listed below, so you can complete your do-it-yourself patio screening project and enjoy the great outdoors within the comfort of your screened walls.

Prepare the Correct Tools

First things first, you’ll need to prepare the right tools for the job. When screening in a patio, there are a few set-in-stone tools you won’t be able to do without, but there are also some that are optional.

Recommended Tools

These are the specific tools you should have to help your project run smoothly:  

  • Power drill and a set of drill bits
  • Measuring tape
  • Mallet
  • Pencil or marker
  • Utility knife

Now that you know which tools are the must-haves for this do-it-yourself project, let’s look into ones that you won’t necessarily need but will still be helpful to use if you have them.

Optional Tools

Some tools are optional, depending on the specific materials you choose to use for screening in your patio and your personal preference for how you work on do-it-yourself projects:

  • Framing square
  • Level
  • Roller knife if you are using base vinyl strips
  • Stepladder
  • Staple gun and staples if you aren’t using base vinyl strips
  • Sander for prepping the framing for painting

Once you decide on which tools you will use, you’ll be ready to start measuring your patio’s dimensions to collect the right amount of materials.

Measure Your Patio’s Dimensions

You will need to use your measuring tape to measure your patio’s width and height for this step. These measurements will help you to calculate just how much screening material you will need to screen in the area. It is always a good rule of thumb to purchase at least 10% more screening material than you measure to prevent being short when you start the project.

If it helps you see a vision of the project before starting, you can always sketch a patio diagram based on your measurements. This way, you will also be more motivated to see the end product.

Here’s a quick video showing screening in a patio. You can see how they measured, pre-cut, and painted the framing boards. Notice how it makes the job go by so much easier:

Gather Your Materials

Every patio is unique and will need personalized measurements to fit your needs. Once you have your measurements, you will need some specific materials to carry out the project.

Wooden Boards and Studs

To get started, you will need wooden boards for the foundation and studs to support the frame. The best type of wood to use for screening in a patio is 2x4s because they make the installation process easy. However, if your foundation boards will be on soil, it is advised that you get thicker boards so everything will be structurally sound when inserted into the ground.

Nails or Screws

You’ll need nails or screws to bind the frame and secure the foundation boards to your patio flooring. The type of nails or screws you will need depends on what your patio flooring is made out of. For harder surfaces like concrete, look for stronger screw anchors like these Tapcons.

The length of your nail or screw will depend on the size of wood you use. For example, if you use 2x4s, you should use nails or screws that are 2 ½ inches long to make sure they penetrate through the board and flooring properly since 2x4s are 1 ½ inches thick.

Screen

Since you’re going to be screening in a patio, of course, you will need screening. There are several different types of screening materials you can choose from:

  • Fiberglass Screen: This type of screen is usually the least expensive, but it is flexible and easy to install because it won’t crease
  • Metal Screen Mesh: More durable than fiberglass, this type of screen is usually made with aluminum
  • Pet Resistant Screen: This type of screen is made out of a plastic mesh that is puncture and tear-resistant to protect against potential pet damages

Screen comes in rolls of varying sizes and lengths. Be sure to buy a screen larger than the areas you want to cover.

Check out this quick clip from This Old House to see what types of screen they use and the process they followed:

Optional Materials

Since this is a personalized project, there are certain materials you can get if you desire:

  • Primer and paint: If desired, you can buy paint for the framing, but be sure to sand, prime, and paint the boards before building with them.
  • Vinyl base strips: Look for vinyl base strips designed to install screening on Amazon or at your local hardware store.
  • Spline:  If you decide to install base strips, you will need spline. Spline is used to fix the screen to the channels in the base strips.
  • Trimming boards: If you aren’t using vinyl base strips, you will need plain, thin trimming boards to go over the edges of the installed screen.
  • Gravel: If you need to bury your foundation boards, use gravel to level out the ground.

Once you have gathered all your necessary tools and materials, you can begin building the foundation for your patio frame.

Install the Foundation Boards

Before building the main part of the frame, it is important to set a firm foundation on or around your patio by first laying out the foundation boards in the way they will be installed, and then securing them into place.

Lay Out the Foundation Boards

After you have all of the tools and materials you need and you’ve measured your patio, you can cut out the proper sizes for the foundation boards and lay them out how they will be installed. If you do this on a solid surface, you can use a mallet to set the boards in place securely.

  • However, if you are on soil, you will need to dig a trench and use thicker foundation boards for stability.
  • Dig an 8-inch by 8-inch trench, and fill it slightly with gravel to create a straight, solid surface.
  • Then, insert the board until it’s half an inch above the ground.
  • Once done, you can add more gravel around the boards and tamp or flatten it.

Once you have set the foundation boards in, use a pencil or marker to measure and mark where you need nails or screws to secure them. You can use a power drill to pre-drill your holes on your markings.

Secure the Foundation Boards into Place

Now that the foundation boards are all set into place, you can use the power drill to fasten them together. How you secure them depends on what kind of surface they are set on; for concrete flooring, you need to use a stronger type of screw that is made for masonry, but for wood flooring, just use typical nails or screws to secure them in place.

Once all your foundation boards are secure, you can begin work on the main framing.

Build the Framing

Since your foundation is now firmly established, building your framing will be easier to do. Before you can construct the framing, you must build its parts: the top framing plate, the rear posts, the studs, and the horizontal boards if you choose to use them in your project.

Top Framing Plate

Build your top framing plate according to the dimensions of your patio, then secure it to your patio’s overhang or ceiling by hammering it in place with the mallet. Then, you can attach it using nails or screws.

Rear Posts

Now that you have the foundation and the top framing done, you have something to attach the rear posts to. Fit the rear posts in between the top framing and bottom foundation boards, then hammer them into place against the house. After that, you can attach them using nails or screws.

Studs

Use measuring tape and a marker or pencil to indicate where you would like studs for the frame. Once marked, insert the studs for the frame vertically and secure them in place with the mallet.

You can use the power drill to drill screws at an angle towards the foundation boards and top framing plate, or you can do it with a hammer and nails. Use slightly longer nails or screws when securing the studs to the top framing plate and foundation boards. To make sure everything is perfectly straight, you can use a leveler.

Horizontal Boards (Optional)

Measuring and marking accordingly, you can insert horizontal boards into the frame as you desire between the vertical studs. Once they are securely in place and straight, use a power drill to screw them to the framing, or a hammer and nails. Like the studs, be sure to do this at an angle.

Put in the Screening

Once your framing is secure, you can begin putting in the screen. There are two main methods you can use: the vinyl base strip method, or the stapling method. Be sure to have the necessary materials for whichever method you choose.

The Vinyl Base Strip Method

Put the vinyl strips up to the studs to measure the sizes you will need cut out for attaching them to the framing and mark your cut line. Cut them along the marks and fit them to the bottom of the studs like you would when framing a window. Then, attach the vinyl strips around the opening.

Take the screen and place it over the attached vinyl strips. For this method, you will need to use a roller knife to insert the spline into the vinyl strips’ channels over the screening. While doing this, pull the screen tight for a smoother installation. Once the screening is in place, cut off the excess material.

The Stapling Method

Starting at the top corner and working your way across, pull the screen tight and staple it onto the framing. Once the top is done, work your way down while still pulling the screen tight to avoid bunching. Once all the staples and screen are in place, cut off the excess material.

Apply the Finishing Touches

Your porch is fully built, but there are still some final touches that need to be done. If you used the vinyl strip base method, you can put the vinyl strip cover over the vinyl strip base and gently hammer it into place with a mallet. However, if you used the stapling method, all you need to do is nail in a separate thin wooden framing to go over the screen’s edges.

Final Thoughts

Screening in a patio by yourself can be a daunting task, but when you know what you’re doing, everything will turn out great. There may be building codes or town regulations in your regions, so make sure to call your local building authorities and ensure your do-it-yourself project meets the local standards.

Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

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