Our neighbors have the best porch ever. We’ve enjoyed many evening meals over there in the spring and summer. However, it’s not so great when the weather turns. So how do you winterize a screened-in porch effectively?
You can winterize your screened-in porch using plastic window insulation sheets, vinyl sheets, or vinyl panels. All these options are relatively easy to fit and will make your porch warmer and more weatherproof over the winter months, while still letting in the light.
Let’s dive down into the subject of winterizing your screen-in porch in greater detail, and discover more about the three best ways to tackle this…
What Should I Use to Winterize My Screened-In Porch?
Although they’re a lovely and fresh space on a warm day, a screened-in porch can be a pretty uncomfortable place during the winter. However, there are some easy ways to insulate your porch for the colder weather using plastic sheeting or panels.
There are three common ways to winterize your screened-in porch: plastic window insulation sheets, vinyl sheets, and vinyl panels. These will help to make your porch more weatherproof over the winter months, while still letting in the light.
How Do I Fit Plastic Insulation Sheets on a Screened-In Porch?
It’s a straightforward job to attach plastic insulation sheets to your porch. Here’s what you do:
- Every task starts with measuring, right? There are two ways to do this when it comes to a porch: either measure the size of the screen openings, or opt to go across the whole wall (less of a hassle, but not as cost-effective). You’ll now know how much to buy
- Dust, clean, and dry the area you’re going to insulate because you won’t be able to soon! Remove any bugs and spider webs
- Cut the sheet to size, remembering to leave an overlap for fastenings
- Starting at the top edge, nail the sheet into position. If you don’t have a suitable surface for nails, you can screw a strip of wood into the wall first. It doesn’t have to take much weight, so it needn’t be large or heavy duty. Make sure the plastic is pulled taut
- Use a hair dryer on the sheet to help shrink the plastic, which gives it a better fit. Switch the dryer onto a low heat setting
- It’s worth checking around the whole porch for any potential sources of draughts, such as gaps between panels. If you find any, use insulating caulk to seal them
Our tip: don’t hammer the nails in like your house depends on them. All the nails have to do is hold up some light sheeting, and you’ll have to remove them in the spring. You want this to be an easy job!
You could also use Velcro strips as an alternative to nails. This is a good idea if you don’t have a handy timber frame, or if you really don’t want to make any holes. However, it does make the job a bit more fiddly.
Many sheets come in handy little kits. If your porch openings are a standard size, this makes the job easier and quicker. Here’s how to install window insulation film using a kit.
How Much Does It Cost to Put Plastic Insulation Sheets on My Screened-In Porch?
You can pick up packs of plastic insulation film from home stores or online retailers like Amazon. This is a pretty inexpensive way to insulate your porch, with a kit for a single window (42” by 62”) costing around seven dollars. You can save money by buying a multipack.
You can also buy plastic sheeting on a roll, which is another cheap option for large porches. A 25’ long roll of heavy-duty sheeting (“heavy duty” means it’s thicker: definitely a good idea when you’re looking for a draught-resistant barrier) can cost as little as under $30.
How Do I Fit Vinyl Sheets to My Screened-In Porch?
Vinyl sheets are a bit tougher and are designed to fill gaps, while plastic sheets tend to be used as an extra layer for existing windows. If you live on top of a hill that gets battered by gales, you’re going to need a pretty robust option.
There are various ways to install your sheets: Velcro, grommets, nails, staples… Just make sure that any metal you use is suitable for outdoor use, as you don’t want messy rust marks on your porch walls.
- Measure the size of the openings or area you want to cover
- As with plastic sheeting, give the area a good dust, clean, and dry while you can!
- Cut the vinyl sheet to size, leaving a bit extra. You often buy it in rolls
- Stretch the sheet across the opening, top first, using your chosen method
- Pull it taut then secure it at the bottom
An alternative approach is to make a pop-out wooden frame, which you stretch the sheet over.
- Make the frame using slim molding strips and wood glue or screws (and here’s how to make a simple wooden frame)
- Stretch the vinyl over the frame and secure with staples (a staple gun makes short work of this)
- You can then lift the whole thing on and off the opening, and you’ll need only a few screws or hooks to attach it
Just be aware that you’ll have a large frame to store over the spring and summer… If storage is an issue, this isn’t the best idea. However, if you have somewhere to keep the frames, this is a neat way to winterize your porch, and it makes the job quicker in future years.
How Much Does It Cost to Put Vinyl Sheets on My Screened-In Porch?
Marine vinyl is a great option for porches, as it’s designed to be durable. You can buy it online, and it’s generally sold off a roll, by the yard. Look out for clear varieties for maximum daylight and so you don’t spoil your view.
Marine vinyl costs around four to five dollars a yard for 40 gauge sheets. This is the thickness to go for, as it’s tough but still easy to work with. 30 gauge is also an option.
How Do I Fit Vinyl Panels to My Screened-In Porch?
Vinyl panels are purpose-made transparent covers. They come with reinforced seams and fastenings (typically brass or stainless steel grommets) in place. Vinyl panels are often fire retardant and tear-proof, making them the go-to covering for places like hotels and restaurants. They are good quality, and generally are much clearer than using sheeting.
- Before ordering, measure the area that needs covering
- Clean and dry the space that’s about to be covered
- Measure the space between the grommets. You’ll need to attach hooks to your wall or frame at these intervals. Make sure that the vinyl panel will be able to be pulled taut
- Hang the panels
- Remove and store in the spring. If you can leave the hooks up, this becomes a really easy job in late fall (use the hooks for string lights in the summer?)
Our wooden frame and vinyl sheet suggestion is a DIY version of this. However, if you’re after quality panels that will last winter after winter, this could be a good investment for you.
How Much Does It Cost to Put Vinyl Panels on My Screened-In Porch?
You do pay for quality when it comes to winterizing your porch. A 5’ by 7’ sheet costs around $100, but this should last you a few winters. It also saves you a lot of time, as they already have their grommets attached.
Features such as reinforced seams and the tear-proof fabric help to increase their lifespan. If you’re looking at sealing in a porch for commercial premises, proper vinyl panels are a must, as they are made from fire-retardant vinyl.
Of course, you could probably order actual windows from Lowe’s or Home Depot for a similar price… It’s a case of weighing up winter vs summer comfort.
Conclusion: Are There Any Other Ways I Can Winterize My Screened-In Porch?
If you have a big budget, the obvious way to winterize your screen-in porch is to install windows, giving you more of a sunroom feel. Of course, you don’t want to melt in there on a hot summer day, so look for windows that fold back.
Have you thought about vinyl curtains? These won’t keep your porch warm, but they will keep the worst of the wind and rain away, and when the sun comes out, you can simply open them up.
Not everyone likes the aesthetic (and it’s true: they can have a touch of the shower curtain feel to them), but you could choose a color or funky design to bring a touch of fun to your winter porch. They’re also good for shade in the summer.
Expecting extreme weather and not too fussed about natural light? You can always board up your porch for the winter. Batten down those hatches with storm boards for a few months every year.
I’m off round next door to tell all this to my neighbors. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry Jones founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >