Monday, December 10, 2012

DIY Amateurs

Project #15: Part II of the Screened in Porch

Project #8 consisted of us cutting and staining the slab-on-grade concrete floor of the screened in porch. Refer to previous post for more details.  We quickly found that we spent a lot of time on the porch and realized the old screens needed to be replaced because they were just holding dust.  They were tight woven light gage wire mat screens and contained a few holes in them which kind of defeated their purpose for keeping out the bugs.   

We figured this project of replacing the screens would be a quick Saturday afternoon project.  After 14 renovation projects under our belt we felt pretty confident that we were good at planning ahead and foreseeing possible unknowns in order to eliminate any surprises during projects.  Up to this point in the renovations really the only surprise we had encountered was the tile flooring that was set in 2" solid mortar bed.  So we felt as though we had graduated past the amateur DIY status.  WRONG! 
 Prior to beginning the project we did our best to examine all of the 6"x6" wood members by knocking on them to see if they were solid or if they in fact were hollow indicating they were rotted. We did not hear or feel any indications that any of these members were in fact rotted.  We removed the screens and realized the 6"x6" wood posts and beams along the entire East elevation were all rotted from the inside out.  This was the point our Saturday afternoon project became a multiple day project.  We felt like the amateurs we watched on the DIY television shows that we laughed at, so of course we laughed at ourselves at this point. 
Luckily this was the non-load bearing side of the porch.  The roof was supported by the house on the North wall and sloped to the South wall of the screened in porch.  Therefore the East wall of the screened in porch was only supporting the wall itself and no roof load.  This was a relief because then we didn't have to worry about shoring the roof while we replaced the wood beams and posts.   

 We replaced all of the 6"x6" wood beams and posts on the East elevation of the screened in porch and then primed and painted all of the wood members.  Then we decided to go with a different screen system.  The original system was just wire mesh stapled to the wood beams and posts and then wood trim pieces were installed along the perimeter of the screens to conceal the staples.  We felt like this made it very difficult if one of the screens were to get a hole in it to be replaced, not to mention all the extra wood trim pieces seemed unnecessary.  We went with the Screen Tight porch screening system because of the easy installation and ability to easily replace screens in the future if they were to be damaged.  It consisted of perimeter tracks that we screwed into the wood beams and posts then we rolled the vinyl screens into the splines of the tracks and then we snapped on the cover pieces over the tracks.      


Installation Steps for the Screen Tight System:

Attach base to wood
STEP 1: Attach base to wood.
Cut base to fit over wood framing. Base strips are butted together and do not require any mitering or notching. Attach the base strip to wood framing using 1" wood or sheet rock screws. Make sure to put a screw in each slot. Fasteners should be snug, but not so tight that the base strip bends. Put a screw no more that 2 inches from the end of each base strip. Do not leave base strips exposed to direct sunlight.

Roll screen into base
STEP 2: Roll screen into base.
Roll screen into base strip with appropriate spline and screening tool. For fiberglass screen use .175" diameter spline. For aluminum screen use .160" diameter spline. Start by rolling the screen into the top horizontal piece of base. After the top is rolled in, then roll the two sides and then the bottom horizontal piece of base. When screening the bottom, create screen tension by pulling down on the screen slightly. This will insure a "tight screen". A screening tool with a plastic wheel works best. Trim all excess screening with a razor knife or a Screen Tight Roller Knife. This will insure that no screen will interfere with the cap snapping onto the base.
snap cap onto base

STEP 3: Snap cap onto base.
The cap snaps onto the base strip and serves as the trim piece. Force from a mallet, hand or small block of wood will snap the cap into place. When attaching the 3.5" cap, the inside leg of the cap should be fitted under the base leg before applying pressure. Always attach cap from one end to the other. To remove cap, start at one end and using a screwdriver gently pry the cap from the base. After getting the cap started, it is easily removed by hand.
In addition to replacing all of the screens and the rotted wood we also installed a new sliding door on the South elevation and a new hinged door on the East elevation.  These were both made of fiberglass frames so we wouldn't have to worry about them rotting over time like the original wood ones had done.


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