Thursday, January 15, 2015

(Plastic) Enclosed Porch - Update

Back in November 2012 I posted about enclosing the porch with plastic for the winter. This has turned out to be one of the most posts on the blog, so I've decided to write a follow-up. The original post can be found here.

In 2013 I followed the same process for enclosing the porch as I had in 2012. It worked well, but was a bit more difficult without my Dad's help. When the time came to install the plastic this winter I decided to make a couple of key changes.

I'm still using the firring strips from 2012. As long as I continue to take them down and store in the dry I expect them to last for several more years. However, I left those on one end up this past year and I expect that at least the one that was on the bottom will need replaced fairly soon. The only materials I had to buy this year was a roll of 4 mil clear plastic sheeting (25' x 10'). I had staples on hand, and re-used some screws from previous years for installing the firring strips.

The first change I made to the plan this year was to attach the plastic to the inside of the porch posts instead of the outside. This simplified the process since it allowed most of the work to be done without the need for ladders, and when a ladder was needed a small step stool was sufficient. By working under the cover of the porch roof I was also able to do the project even though it was lightly raining. So far I've seen no evidence to suggest that this will create any problems.

The next change I made was in the order in which I attached the strips. Previously we started with those on top. This year, though, I decided it made more sense to start with those on the sides. I left  6" of plastic above the top of the strips so there would be room for rolling the plastic around the top strips. After installing the first strip I stretched the plastic tightly and cut it to length. Once I had attached it to the strip for the other side it was stretched as tightly as possible while I attached the strips to the post. The result is that the plastic is stretched much more tightly than before.

The last change that I made was to install the top and bottom strips one at a time. The length of the porch requires two strips be placed end to end to span the distance. Previously we had attached the plastic to both before attaching to the posts. It was difficult, however, for two people to hold both strips in place and attach them. By attaching one at a time this year I was able to avoid that problem. I simply cut the plastic in the center where the strips would meet so that each side could be rolled independently of the other.

I have only identified two minor issues with the approach I used this year. First is that installing the plastic on the insides of the post required moving anything that was sitting near the posts, which for me included a gas grill and patio furniture. This took little time, though, and was a minor inconvenience. The other issue is that I needed to cut the vertical strips to length, since they could no longer extend down past the floor of the porch as they did when mounted to the outside. This did require an extra step, but now that it is done I won't have to do it again. If one were planning to re-use the strips for another purpose it could be beneficial to be able to avoid cutting them, but for me that isn't a concern.

In my original post I indicated that the cost of the project was less than $30. Since I only had to buy plastic this year the cost was just over $12. Over three years that averages out to $18 a year. As long as I continue using the same strips that average will continue to decrease, making the project a better deal each year.

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