Houseplans Blog

A Primer On Screens

A Primer On Screens
Screen porch news! Today's products offer more screening options
[With concerns about the mosquito-borne Zika virus rising, and weather improving, we asked contractor David Jacknin to round up current options in screening for windows and doors, and here's his report. The screen porch above is from Plan 928-10-- Ed]

Traditional porch screening is often attached with staples and covered with strips of lath material or flat molding. Today’s screening products are an upgrade on this method and include such systems as those offered by companies like that offer a much neater method of attaching and stretching screens into place. The Screentight system includes an aluminum base that secures the screen to all framing members, a special tool that tucks the screen into the base and a neat vinyl cap to cover it all up. Tension can be adjusted and you end up with a neat installation that hides all hardware. Other companies that offer similar products include and

Fixed Screens for Windows
Andersen, Marvin and Pella all offer fixed screens. When selecting, look for high visibility screens such as Andersen’s TruScene. Marvin makes a high visibility screen called the Hi Transparency Screen, available on their Marvin Line of Windows. Pella offers three levels of fixed screens: a conventional fiberglass screen, a middle level In View screen, and a High Transparency Screen that features 29% more light as well as greater air flow.

Retractable Screens for Windows
Retractable screens are all made of fiberglass mesh. They are convenient but add around $150 to a window unit, depending on size. Marvin offers a retractable screen on their Ultimate Double Hung and on their Ultimate Casement windows. The casement unit tucks away neatly and you can hardly tell it is there.  The Double Hung Unit requires a 2 X 6 wall and provides an Interior screen for the upper sash. Andersen does not offer a retractable screen for their windows. Pella’s retractable screen for windows rolls up like a shade and works very well. Phantom Screens fit most window types. 

Patio Door Screens
Marvin offers two levels of sliding door screens. The Marvin Ultimate is a top-hung system and is durable. Andersen offers both a retractable and a hinged screen for their in-swing door patio door. Andersen’s out-swing door is only available as a retractable unit.

Phantom's retractable screens include professional installation. They can be installed on any of the patio doors and cost around $1,000 installed. Pella also makes a retractable screen door called the Scenic Door Ultimate Sliding Screen – it is concealed within the screen surround when not in use. It spans up to 12’ wide as a single screen and 24’ wide as a Bi-Parting system with screen heights up to 10’ tall.
Retractable Screens for Wide Openings
For very wide openings such as Marvin’s Bifold Door system (up to 24 feet), a vertical system such as Phantom Screens’ Executive model does a good job, as shown here in a partially closed screen for a great

room opening to a pool terrace (image courtesy Phantom Screens). This system offers a way to use the screen wall when you need it and a way to roll it up vertically when you desire an unobstructed view. The Executive model can handle openings up to 25 feet wide and 16 feet high. The system is motorized and comes with a remote.

For a retractable wall that tucks away horizontally, check out the VistaView by Wizard

shown above (image courtesy Wizard Industries), as well as NanaWalls’ NanaScreen Classic, shown below. Both of these units are designed for the wide openings of bifold and folding wall systems. They are
cartridge-mounted inside the door where the screen neatly tucks away (image courtesy Nanawall). One helpful feature of these systems is that the screen can be retracted to any point along the track if you want a partial opening.     

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