The decision on whether to install fixed or retractable screens on a porch comes down to a matter of personal taste. While many homeowners don’t mind or even notice porch screens, others can’t stand them believing that they are no more than distracting barriers standing between them and the beautiful outdoors.
Most people are familiar with fixed screens—screens that are in place year-round, but there is another option available for homeowners called retractable screens. These screens retract by rolling up into a protective housing using the push of a button, making the screen virtually invisible. The best retractable screen systems can be retrofitted into a door or window almost seamlessly so that they are hardly noticeable because the housing fits within the door or around the window.
Retractable screens offer many advantages. Since the screen is retracted when not in use, the fabric is protected from harmful UV rays, dirt, and weather. As a result, retractable screens will significantly outlast traditional flat screens. An added benefit is there is no need to remove the screens and store them away in the winter. Needless to say it also protects against flying or crawling insects while still allowing for fresh ventilation.
If you’re still undecided, here are some pros and cons of both systems to weigh in your debate:
Fixed screens are the most cost-effective solution, making them a good choice if your primary goal is to get a good return on your investment when you sell the home. High-quality screening systems are affordable for most homeowners.
Inexpensive to maintain and to repair.
Fixed screen systems are fairly simple once they are correctly installed by a professional. You can fix just the panel with the issue instead of having to reinstall the entire screen.
Many people are surprised by how great a fixed screen can look nowadays. Newer systems require fewer posts, and the screens are nearly see-through, providing a barrier that’s practically invisible but still bug-proof.
Permanent screens are up year-round, whether you need them or not. For some people, this is a dealbreaker but for others, they don’t mind the permanent year-round use.
Hard to remove.
Some fixed screen systems can be removed for seasonal use, but it can be time-consuming and cumbersome especially if the screens are on windows and porches that aren’t ground level. Storing them is another issue with having to find a place where you can do so safely to protect them from potential rips and damage until you go through the entire process to put them back up.
The screens can span almost twenty feet, which means fewer (or no) columns.
With the push of a button, your screened-in porch becomes an open-air, covered deck. This means you only have to use those screens for the summer months you typically need them. The rest of the year bugs aren’t a real worry so you won’t need the screen.
Connect two porch spaces.
If you have an exterior porch or deck alongside your ground-level screen porch, retractable screens are an ideal way to connect the two. Simply open the screen to take advantage of one larger area. Put the screen down if you want it to act as a wall between the two spaces.
Retractable screens are typically at least five times as expensive as fixed screens. For just one motorized system, you’ll need three systems (for the three “walls”) in most screen porches.
A retractable screen system has many benefits that make it worthwhile, so long as you can afford the investment. Before you decide you absolutely hate your fixed screens, check out new fixed screens systems that have been available in recent years, You might be surprised by how unassuming it really is, even if they’re up all year long.