The word screen enclosures has became fairly ambiguous, it can mean different things for many people and results in confusion. Confusion in the construction process and the estimating process, and well even confusion when gathering information about screen enclosures online. We can all agree that confusion is not good for anyone. In this blog post we’re going to clarify exactly what types of screening enclosures there are, how they are properly described, what they mean, what types of materials, and go over a little bit of the cost. As you will see some of the screen enclosures cost as little as $1000 while others could run up to… well into the six figures.
Under-truss Screen enclosures
First up are under-truss screen enclosures. Some people refer to them as a screened in lanai. These screen enclosures are built within openings under an already existing truss roof. Notice I said truss roof there, there may be differences when built under something other than a truss roof.
For the screening enclosure is there is no “roof” of the aluminum structure or concrete work that needs to be done as they are all under the roof of a house and built on the existing footprint. The aluminum framing is simply fabricated to spec, to accommodate the opening size with a screen door. Any screen type from fiberglass to polyester can be used, even No See’um screen for increased bug protection. With these under truss screen enclosures, architectural elements such as buttresses columns or archers may be encountered, but for an experienced screen enclosure company these obstacles are no challenge.
When it comes to the permit for these under-truss screen enclosures, in most places no permit is required although there are a few exceptions like the city of North Port in Southwest Florida. In terms of cost, they generally start at $1000 for a small opening that is perfectly square and increase in cost from there. Most of them stay underneath a $3000 price point but for some large openings and ones that are complicated in design or have many architectural features the price can go substantially higher.
>> Related post: Was This Lanai Built Right
Screen Enclosures With Screen Roof
The next type of screen enclosure we are going to talk about are screen enclosures with the screen roof, like a pool cage. Unlike under-truss screen enclosures, these ones have a structural aluminum roof with screen mesh on top of it and project outward from the footprint of the host structure. They keep bugs out and off your skin, leaves out of the pool drain, and still let you get that worshipped sun. For these screen enclosures a permit is always required whether you are building one entirely new or replacing an existing structure. On this website I frequently discuss the problem with many of the builders grade enclosures, that are common throughout Florida, often built through large home builders or pool builders who command “the cheapest”. They use the cheapest fasteners screen metal extrusions and finish which results in a structure that doesn’t retain its integrity and appearance for very long and leads to frequent maintenance after purchase (related blog post: is your pool cage still rated for 150 mph?). To avoid the builders grade crap, I recommend making sure that your screen enclosure has a high-quality screen, Pfeiffer or better, and if fastener with a warranty such as a Nylotech fastener. For the finish on the aluminum extrusions, a powder coat is recommended. The structures can also be engineered for maximum view with spans at least 30 foot wide in most areas of Florida and sometimes wider depending on the local wind code.
Let’s go back to the screen mesh. The builders grade orders and screen only last a couple years, so as I said you will want to make sure that high quality fiberglass screen by Phifer is user, at least, which gets you 7-9 years of life span. If it’s a property you plan on keeping for a while, a polyester screen is best. Also available is a Noseeum version of the five for screen and polyester screen if small bugs or a problem in your area.
The cost on the screen enclosure with screen roof like everything varies according to specifics. For a single story 20 x 40 screen enclosure with high-quality materials including permit in engineering you should expect to spend around $12,000 for the structure only, this does not include concrete / foundation. A larger enclosure, nearly double the size, a 30 x 50 (1500 sqft footprint vs 800), The price of 19,000 to 20,000 would be expected for a reputable contractor using premium materials. No these prices do not include concrete or foundation work, if needed this work would likely double the reference numbers given here.
Screen Enclosures With Solid Roof
Finally a screening closure with solid roof, also known as the screen room. These are my favorite as they are usually built in a scenario where there just is not enough patio space and they bring a solid roof which can be used all the time. For a long lasting well sealed structure you want to make sure the roof is built out of aluminum composite panels, panels with an aluminum shell and high density foam core. These panels provide insulation, maximum longevity and are optimized for minimal leakage wwith seems every 4 foot, as opposed to 16 inches for other aluminum roofing options.
The information on types of materials still applies to these screen enclosures as well so I am not going to touch on that again here. What I am going to do though is mention some options common with these screen room structures. The first is kick plate. Kick plate on the bottom keeps dirt and debris out, and provides protection against rowdy pets that can’t seem to leave the lizards on the other side alone or chairs which may damage the screen when we moved. The common height of kick plate is 16 inches and it comes in colors to match the screen room. The other option is a concealed fan been. Concealed fan beams go within the insulated composite roof and are virtually hidden. They provide a mounting point for a ceiling fan or light fixture in the future as well as the channel to run the wiring through for hook up. Do note that the hook up does require a licensed electrician, which many screen enclosure contractors are not, so you may need to plan on hiring a 3rd part for this or going the DIY route.
One of the most common sizes of screen room we see is a 12′ x 24′. This size provides enough room for tables chairs and moving around. Smaller than those dimensions are generally found to be rather tight and limiting. A 12 x 24 screen room you could expect to fall in the price of about $10,000 including permit and engineering, but excluding concrete and foundation work which may add several thousand dollars to the price.
Now that you’re familiar with the 3 types of screen enclosures out there, let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. If you would like an estimate for a screen enclosure like these be sure to check out the contractor network, and I will put you in touch with 3 reputable professional and established contractors in your area to provide quotes on your project!
Answers coming soon.
What types of screen are best?
It used to be that 'American made' screens by Phifer and Superscreen were the best. Today those brands outsource some or all of their production overseas.
As of writing this in 2021...
...all of the premium polyester screen meshes are comparable in strength in longevity (SuperScreen, UltraScreen, TuffScreen).
For the standard fiber glass screens I still find Phifer to be superior, as many of the generics or unknown brands are producing low quality.
Can you recommend a good screen enclosure contractor?
I do work with a network of contractors nationally. By submitting your quote request here, contractors will contact you to earn your business. This puts YOU in the drivers seat, as opposed to chasing contractors. I find they're typically more responsive, professional and have better prices. Keep in mind they are independent so you still need to do your own due diligence, but contractors that are eager to earn your business and show professionalism early on typically do a better job then the ones with the "I don't need your business attitude.
Do screen enclosures need a concrete footer?
99% of the time YES. Footers and accompanying permits commonly cause problems in the process of getting a screen enclosure. Often someone will want to build an enclosure on an unpermitted slab and be forced to remove the slab and restart. I cover more on footers here.
Will a screen enclosure withstand a hurricane?
In Florida, screen enclosures are built to withstand hurricane force winds, but there are few things to consider...
#1 as the fasteners degrade the enclosure becomes substantially weaker. In short you should ensure that a high grade fastener is used and that they are replaced as they fall out of manufacturer strength tolerance.
#2 Wind itself may not cause damage, but the airborne trash can could.
Do screen enclosures need a permit?
Yes, screen enclosures are considered a permanent structure in Florida and require a permit. If you get an enclosure without a permit... you may go years without a problem but typically problems come up resulting in the structure needing to be demolished. In a 'worst case' scenario I was privvy to, an enclosure was built without a permit, and the property was sold. After the transaction the buyer realized the enclosure had no permit and filed a lawsuit against the seller for a substantial sum based on the value the enclosure contributed to the property. It was a messy situation. I cover more permit issues in this post.
What can you do for privacy on a screen enclosure? (+easy to install products)
Most homeowners look for a 'magical' privacy screen. Here's the deal, none of the 'privacy' screens will give you privacy on a pool cage style screen enclosure. They will however work in an under roof application. If you want privacy on your screen enclosure, curtains, shrubs, or fencing is the ticket.
Should you get a screen enclosure?
In suburban areas of Florida, mosquitos thrive and most people get substantially more use of their pool/patio area with a screen enclosure. In heavily urbanized areas like South East Florida they are a little less necessary as there is not much standing water on the ground.
Screen enclosure maintenance.
Screen enclosures need to be rescreened and the fasteners replaced. This could be as short as 5 years if low grade materials were used or as long as 20 years if premium materials such as Polyester screen (SuperScreen or similar) and Nylotek fasteners. It's generally worth paying for these materials.