However much you love your patio, there may be just too many days when it’s not fit to live on. Our enclosure turns a patio—or a deck—into a space as comfortable as another room of your house.
Of course, it won’t keep out the cold, but the roll-down shades will block out most of
the rain. And, thanks to the screens and the awning soffit (Photo 16), you can forget
about mosquito attacks.
Our 14 x 16-ft. enclosure is a big project. Although it’s fairly simple structurally, it
requires careful work with a lot of large-dimension lumber. The trickiest part is getting all these components square
and plumb, which probably
calls for more than a beginner’s
skills. And you’ll spend a
lot of time building—two or
three weeks going at it full
time, or much of a summer in
your spare time.
We built our roof high enough to
preserve a pleasant view through the
sliding doors. In summer, the awning
top shades the bright sun, yet allows
plenty of light to pass into the house.
And here’s the biggest selling point
for this project: You can easily
remove the awning in winter and let
the sunshine in. The structure is
designed to look good even without
the awning top. Of course, you could
leave the awning on all year in many
parts of the country, but it won’t support
a heavy snow load.
The awning is attached as shown in
Fig. E and Photos 15 and 16. A slide-in channel at the peak
and turnbuckle clips along the edges
make for a quick, no-hassle on-and-off
in spring and fall. The approximately
16 x 16-ft., one-piece, vinylized
canvas weighs only about 10 lbs.,
so it’s easy to handle.
We had our awning top made by a
professional awning maker, who also
handled the initial installation. As an alternative, you can also consider metal or plastic roof panels, which are sold at most home centers.
Before beginning any work, be
sure to have your local building
inspector look at your plans. Your
town may have special requirements
for a structure such as this, and will
probably require a building permit
and inspection. Your inspector may
also require the enclosure to be
checked by a structural engineer. Even if it’s not required, the
cost of an inspection is a worthwhile
investment in peace of mind. NOTE: Building codes in some regions
require additional seismic and highwind
anchors. Ask your building
inspector about local requirements.
For a furniture-quality interior, use D-grade (nearly blemish-free)
cedar for the entire structural framework,
with the exception of the laminated
1-3/4 x 12-in. beam (Photos 5
and 6) at the peak. You can substitute treated lumber for the framework, which will cut costs substantially, though the wood will show some imperfections. The foundation timbers are pressure-treated 6x6s. Bolts, screws, door hardware,
paint and other miscellaneous hardware will add several hundred dollars to the cost.
We first painted our enclosure
with a stain-blocking primer coat—make sure the label says that the product
blocks cedar stains—to seal the
cedar so it doesn’t discolor. We followed
that with a topcoat of white
latex paint. Do your painting before
mounting the screens and doors.
NOTE: If you choose not to paint,
you’ll probably want to have your
screens made of bronze-colored aluminum
frames rather than white.
Measure for the screens after the
structure is completed. Buy custom-made
screens for the enclosure and the
doors, or make your own.
If you live in the
Sun Belt, you might want to consider
using a sun-blocking screening material (available at some home centers or online).
As an alternative to custom-made
screens, you might want to consider
securing the screening directly to the
framing. However, this
system does not allow the screens to
be taken down and put back up easily.
The total cost for our patio enclosure will range from several thousand if you use less expensive materials to two or three times that amount (or more) for premium lumber and professionally made screens.
Figure A: Foundation and Post Layout
Adapt this 14-ft. by 16-ft. plan to your backyard. For a large, printable version, see Additional Information, below.
Figure B: Screened Patio Overview
This cutaway diagram explains the framing details. For a large, printable version, see Additional Information, below.
Laying the foundation
The paver patio on which we built our
enclosure was already in place, and
we designed the enclosure to accommodate
its shape. We extended one
corner into the circular planting bed,
as shown in Photo 1. (For paver
installation how-to, see “Build a Stone Patio or Brick Patio.”)
Lay out the perimeter lines with mason’s string. Make sure the
perimeter is square by measuring
diagonally from corner to corner in
both directions. The diagonals should
We then removed the pavers along
the entire patio enclosure perimeter
(Photo 2), and dug a trench 8 in. wide
and 8 in. deep. Fill the trench with
crushed gravel of 3/8-in. or smaller
rock. To accommodate any slope in
the patio, level the gravel so that the
foundation timbers will sit about
1/2 in. above the patio surface at its
highest point, then tamp the gravel
thoroughly. Since our 6x6 foundation
timbers (Photo 3) rest directly on the
ground, we bought pressure-treated
timbers with a higher .60 preservative
level rather than the standard .40.
The structure of our enclosure is
not attached to the house anywhere; it
is supported entirely by the foundation
timbers. This exempts the entire
structure from the more stringent
building code requirements that
it’s important to
firmly embed the
and on top of
soil that won’t
sink, compact or
and securely in
them with a
masonry wet saw
(available at most tool
rental outlets) to fit tightly against the foundation timbers. Fitting the pavers
tightly anchors the timbers against
Assembling the framework
Begin your framework assembly by
notching all the 6x6 and 4x6 vertical
posts to receive the horizontal framing
members (Photo 4 and Fig. C).
Mark the position for all the vertical
posts on the foundation timbers.
Drill 1/2-in. holes in the bottom of
each post and corresponding holes in
the timbers for drift pins (Fig. A). These pins, cut from 1/2-in. steel
reinforcing rod (normally used to
strengthen concrete slabs), hold the
posts in position on the foundation.
To obtain the necessary span
strength, we used a pressure-treated
1-3/4 x 12-in. laminated beam at the peak (Photo 5), which you’ll probably have to special-order at a full-service
lumberyard. Mount the laminated
beam to the notches in the two rear
vertical posts with lag bolts. Use
washers, and countersink the washers
and the lag bolt heads. Tack sill seal—1/2-in. thick foam strips to block bugs
and water drips—to the back of the
posts and beam. Then raise the
assembly in place, dropping the posts
onto the drift pins. Hold the posts in
place with temporary 2x4 diagonal
Raise the two front corner posts
into position, fitting them onto the
drift pins. Hold the posts plumb, and
secure them in position with temporary
diagonal bracing, as shown in
Photo 6. Then install the upper horizontal
2x6 framing members, and
temporarily fasten them in place with
one screw at each joint. Note that the front upper horizontal 2x6 is notched
into the posts; the upper horizontal
2x6s on the sides are flush-mounted
to the posts.
To obtain the correct length for the
three intermediate vertical posts on
each side, tack them in place with one
screw at each joint, leaving them overlong.
Then temporarily place the two
outside rafters in position, and mark
the posts for the angled cutoff, as
shown in Photo 7. Note that the
rafters have a small “bird’s-mouth”
cutout at the eave, as shown in Fig. D.
Unscrew the posts, take them back
down and cut off the excess post tops
with a circular saw.
Cut the bottom horizontal 2x6s
and intermediate horizontal 2x4s to
length (we mitered these corners for
appearance, as shown in Photo 8) and
tack them in place in the post notches.
After all the vertical and horizontal
framing members are in place,
predrill all the holes for the 3/8-in. x 4-1/2 in. lag bolts—two at each
joint—and countersink the washers
and bolt heads, then lag-bolt the
entire structure together (Photo 8).
Figure C: Post Detail
Notch the posts as shown. For a large, printable version, see Additional Information, below.
Framing the roof
Screw a 2x6 ledger board to the laminated
peak beam to support the upper
ends of the rafters (Photo 9 and Fig.
D). Cut all the rafters to length, making
13-degree angle cuts (or adjusted
to your project) at the upper ends to
fit against the peak beam. Use a jigsaw
to cut the concave ends on the rafter
tails, as shown in Fig. D, and the
bird’s-mouths at the eaves.
Mount the two end rafters first,
then the center rafter, then divide the
space evenly on both sides of the center
rafter to position the others.
Secure the rafters with angle-driven
screws to the peak beam and the
ledger board, and to the horizontal
To rigidly brace the roof and the
entire freestanding structure, cut the
2x8 roof cross supports (they’re
painted red in Photo 10 for clarity).
The top edges of these cross supports
are beveled 13 degrees (or adjusted to
your project), and the cross support
on the lower side of each post is cut
narrower so that the bottom edges of
the paired supports are flush.
Mount the cross supports in place
with one screw at each post, then
secure the rafters to them with angledriven
3-1/2 in. deck screws—two
screws for each rafter into each cross
member. To give the structure lateral
strength, the cross supports are
secured to the posts with tightly fastened
carriage bolts rather than lag
bolts—two at each post.
Figure D: Rafter Detail
Cut the rafters as shown. For a large, printable version, see Additional Information, below.
Figure E: Soffit Detail
Figure E shows the soffit and awning details. For a large, printable version, see Additional Information, below.
Assembling the doors
The two doors are constructed from
clear, straight cedar 2x4s for the side
rails and center crosspiece, and 2x6
pieces for the tops and bottoms
(Photo 11 and Fig. F, p. 48). The doors are 1/2 in. smaller than the door
opening in each direction for clearance.
Cut lap joints at the corners and
for the center crosspiece, and glue the
joints with resorcinol glue, which is
waterproof and super-strong. Square
the door by measuring diagonally in
each direction, as shown, then clamp
the joints until the glue dries.
Rout 1/2-in. wide x 3/4-in. deep
rabbets on all the inside edges of the
doors to receive the 3/8-in. thick aluminum
screen frames. The door
screens are held in place with strips of
wood that are tacked in place with
3d galvanized finishing nails after
painting is completed, as shown in
Mount the doors with four butt
hinges, and install latches and handles,
and if desired, pneumatic door
closers. Note that we installed horizontal
lengths of 2x4 to the frame for
headers above the doors, and 3/8-in.
thick door stops along the sides and
top (Photo 12).
Figure F: Door Detail
Build the doors using this plan. For a large, printable version, see Additional Information, below.
Mounting the screens
The custom screens were made 1/4 in.
smaller than the openings in each
direction. The white aluminum-channel
frames are 3/8-in. thick x 1 in.
The screens are held in place on
the outside using 1x1 stops nailed
along the outer perimeters of the
openings (Photo 14). The screens are
secured on the inside using a 1x1
along just one side, leaving a slot for
the screen frame to slide into. Then
the screen is tacked in place with two
small screws through the opposite
aluminum frame. Note the 1x6 cap
rail on which the upper screens rest.
This cap rail also provides a convenient
place to set your iced tea while
you’re enjoying a summer breeze.
Back to Top
Installing the awnings
To ensure an exact fit, our awning
maker took his measurements after
the enclosure was built. It then took
two weeks for the awning to be made
and installed. The awning has an 8-in.
apron dropping down vertically along
the front edge, with this bottom edge
line continuing along the sides,
slightly above the tops of the doors.
Photo 15 shows two flaps sewn to
the awning’s front edge in addition to
the apron: The rear tie-down flap has
grommets along the edge through
which rope is threaded. The rope is
wound around the tie-down bar that
slides in through holes drilled in the
rafter ends. This allows the awning to
be pulled taut. The longer soffit flap,
intended to keep out bugs, attaches to
the horizontal eave frame member
with turnbuckle clips (Photo 16).