10 Design Ideas for Your Chicagoland Screen Porch

Ten popular screen porch design ideas by Archadeck of Chicagoland.


Screen porches are a great way to experience the outdoors while remaining protected from elements like rain and snow.  Today’s custom screened porch designs can be as elaborate or simple as you choose. Match your home, opt for a finished look, or keep it rustic and outdoorsy.  Here are ten popular design elements to consider as you plan your screen porch.

Skylights and Exposed Rafters

Exposed rafters create a rustic look and skylights let in more sun.

Screen Porch with Skylights by Chicago Screen Porch Builder Archadeck of Chicagoland

Continue reading “10 Design Ideas for Your Chicagoland Screen Porch”

Screen Porches: Bring the Outdoors In

Screen Porch

Screen porches blur the lines between your outdoor and indoor living spaces and are great for extending the time you spend enjoying the outside. There are many details that make your screen room perfect for your family.  At Archadeck, we enjoy helping our clients discover these details as we design the outdoor living space they envision.

Screen porch with deck

Comfortable living spaces allow you to enjoy the great outdoors while also offering protection from the rain and snow.

Screen Porch View

Aesthetically pleasing and highly versatile Vertical 4-Track windows transform your screen porch into a space that is usable three seasons or even all year round.  These vinyl windows are available in multiple sizes and are designed to allow you to open them 25%, 50%, or 75%.

Windows for Screen Porch

Lifestyle rails inside the porch function as both a safety feature and a drink rail, creating a space to place drinks, plants, and toys.

Knee Wall for Screen Room

Exposed beams and skylights give the room a bright, spacious, and airy feel.

Open Rafter Ceiling

Low voltage lighting on the stairs light the way when the sun begins to go down.

Deck Lighting

Rope lighting under the rails of the deck create a soft, ambient glow.  Deckorator pickets create a striking and beautiful look to the deck.

Deck Rail Lighting

Attaching decks to your screen porch gives you space for grilling and outdoor seating.

There are so many options available to you when building a screen porch.  Our Design Consultants walk you through every step of the way, designing outdoor living space of your dreams.  If you would like to speak with someone about your next outdoor project, give us a call at (847) 749-2373 or email us at chicagoland@archadeck.net.  We would love the opportunity to turn your dreams into a reality.

See you in the Backyard!

Find Archadeck of Chicagoland on houzz!

Sunrooms -Your Very Own Retreat

Have you ever found your home bursting at the seams while entertaining family and friends?  Did you wonder what you could do to provide more space for entertaining?  Perhaps you looking for a way to create a quiet and peaceful retreat from a busy household. Maybe you prefer to take in the beauty of the great outdoors, but find those spring and fall mornings too chilly to sit on your back porch.

Gorgeous screen room and sunroom built in Hawthorn Woods

Over the past few weeks we have been discussing the differences between screen rooms, sunrooms, and new additions.  Often, sunrooms are the best of both worlds. They create a usable living space that shields against the outdoor elements while allowing you to view the splendor of the outdoors.  With the ability to open the many windows, they also allow you to bring the outdoors right into your home.  Sunrooms provide the versatility to use them in many different ways. With Chicagoland’s ever-changing weather, this versatility is valuable and will extend the outdoor season.

Sunroom custom designed and built by Archadeck of Chicagoland.

Unlike the screen rooms we discussed last week, sunrooms provide a more substantial form of protection from the weather, allowing you to decorate with interior furniture.  You can create a dining area or breakfast room, or install  a television and music system. You can design a family room or a quiet and tranquil space for your escape.

Sunroom with cathedral ceilings and skylights.

When choosing a sunroom, you want to consider the best option to meet your needs.  How you plan to use the room should determine your choice of materials and size.  Choose a style that matches the architecture of your home.  If you need help, our Archadeck Design Consultants can guide you every step of the way.  We will work with you to create a beautiful and functional space that meets your needs and fulfills your vision.

See you in the Backyard!

Sunrooms built by Archadeck in your local Chicago Suburbs


Is a Screen Room Right for You?

Imagine the sun peaking up, it’s first rays glittering through the trees.  The air is fresh and cool.  Aside from the birds chirping their morning songs, everything is quiet while you warm your hands around a hot cup of coffee.  There is something special about spending a quiet hour with the tranquil beauty of the great outdoors.

Screen rooms provide the feeling and function of an indoor room while blurring the lines between your outdoor and indoor living spaces.  Only a thin screen separates you and the outdoors. Whether it’s dinner with the family or just letting the children play, a screen room can add functionality to your back yard while eliminating worries such as mosquitoes and even rain.

Screen Room - Archadeck

Screen enclosures are also cost effective when compared to other home improvements.  The maintenance of a screen room is minimal and most winterize in no time.  If you are looking for a way to use your screen room through multiple seasons, you have a couple of options.  Acrylic storm panels can be placed in the windows when you prepare for winter.  Placing a small space heater in the screen room allows you to curl up with a cup of hot chocolate as you watch the snow fall, draping Chicagoland with a frosty white blanket.

Screen Room - Archadeck

Vertical 4-track windows appear to be glass to anyone looking from a distance, but are made of a vinyl material instead. These windows come in a variety of sizes, but are separated into four sections, allowing you to open from 25% to 50% to 75% This gives you control over the amount of outdoor elements you allow in.  If it’s a particularly blustery day, open just enough to allow just the right amount of breeze.  On a gorgeous summer afternoon, open them all up and enjoy the fresh scent of the season that wafts through your airy screen room.

Screen Room - Archadeck

There are so many options available to you when building a screen porch. From a traditional screen design to a custom three season room; the sky is the limit.  If you would like to take a look at design options or discuss how to put your outdoor dream together, give us a call and set an appointment to visit our show room Our Design Consultants can walk you through every step of the process, helping you make your dream become a reality.  Whether you’re adding a screen porch as an investment or simply to bring the outside in, you’re sure to love your new outdoor room.

See you in the Backyard!

Screen Rooms, Sunrooms, Additions…What’s the Difference?

With spring upon us, perhaps you’ve decided that now is the time to add a screen room to your home…or maybe a sunroom.  Your neighbors call it a three-season room but the guy down the street says it is a brand new addition.  What do we call these structures and how can you make sure you’re getting what you envision?

In the years that I have owned the Archadeck of Chicagoland, I’ve heard screen porch and sunrooms referred to in a number of different ways.  At the end of the day though, the term you use isn’t nearly as important as finding a design that meets your needs.  To find that, you’ll need to know the basic differences between a screen room, a sunroom, and an addition.

A room addition has a higher ratio of solid walls to windows than a sunroom does.  With the added insulation and full HVAC, these rooms are functional year round. This is basically a new space that is designed to expand your home.

Sunrooms are rooms that are built to maximize the amount of light and ventilation while offering complete protection from rain and wind.  The glass intensifies the sun’s rays to heat the room; this is great in the chilly spring and fall seasons.  In the summer you can open the windows to allow the flow of a warm breeze.  Sunrooms are usually insulated and sometimes heated.

Sunroom built by Archadeck of Chicagoland

A screen room is an enclosure similar to a sunroom, but we replace the glass windows with fiberglass screens.  This provides an open and airy environment that allows you to appreciate everything nature has to offer without being bothered by pesky insects or light rain.  Many screen porches we build are really three season rooms as we utilize non-glass windows that offer multi-season protection.  These options offer significant savings when compared to traditional sunrooms while still providing optimal protection from the outdoor elements

Screen room built by Archadeck of Chicagoland

As you contemplate the different options, be sure to consider the ways you plan to use the room.  Figuring out how your new room will be used most often will help you determine which is best for you.

See you in the Backyard!

What’s the Latest Trend in Outdoor Living?

According to Builder Blog, a recent survey by Professional Builders shows decks, outdoor fireplaces, fire pits and screened porches are among the most demanded outdoor living features.  Thinking about sprucing up your backyard?  Give us a call and visit our showroom!



How to choose a contractor you can trust, part 2

When you buy something at the store you see the finished product.  When you order something online you see a picture of the finished product.  When you hire a contractor, you won’t see the finished product until built. 

 Buying from a contractor means trusting someone.  Trusting they will build what you expect.  Trusting they understand what you expect. How can a homeowner be comfortable they are choosing the right contractor for their project?  How do they know who to trust? This is the second article in a blog series on how to select the right contractor.

 In my last blog I wrote about evaluating a contractor’s background and experience.  In this blog I would like to share some thoughts on how to evaluate the contractors approach to understanding your needs.  In my business we call it “design”, but really it’s about asking questions, listening, and understanding the priorities of the client.  Not all construction projects involve “design” but all of them include understanding the client’s priorities.   In our outdoor living business we strive to offer designs that match our client’s needs and wants.

 To insure that we understand a client’s priorities and, just as important, they understand what we are proposing to build, we provide a clear drawing with detailed specifics related to their project.   Every contractor should give clear written details of your project.  Of course, a written agreement and warranty are important as well.

 Project specifications should include details regarding materials and finishing information. Material information should clarify the quality of the material, if appropriate.  For example, we note number 1 grade decking and stainless steel screws for our deck projects.  Any items the client will be responsible for should also be included in the project specifications.  For example, when we build screen porches, we note that the client buys the ceiling fan which we install. 

 In some cases it’s valuable to visualize your project in three-dimensional photo realistic drawings.  When we build decks, patios, screen porches, sunrooms, or pergolas for shade, we offer a plan view (view from above) of the project.  If a client desires, we can offer custom three-dimensional drawings of their home with our proposed project shown on an image of their home.   This type of design work takes more time so we charge a small project retainer, which applies to the price of the project.

 Of course price is an important part of any proposal.  Some contractors give estimates.  Estimates can change and some contractors purposefully give a low price that they plan to increase once the project begins.  We guarantee that the that we agree will not to change unless the project is changed by the client or something unforeseen occurs.  We define unforeseen as not visually present or a requirement by a building department outside of those noted in the building code.

 In a future blog I will discuss project management and services offered by contractors.

 See you in the outdoors.

Outdoor living solutions.

A screened gazebo provides a great dining space with out the bugs.

Last spring a Libertyville home owner contacted us about a new screen porch project.  When we met I shared the news that in the Village of Libertyville, IL any attached roofed structure requires a full foundation.  The cost of a full foundation is a significant increase over a standard construction for a screen porch. The Building codes and most communities in Illinois do not require such an extreme foundation.   The homeowner’s functional priority was a screened area for 4-6 people to dine in.  She also wanted deck space that fit the house and offered room for another table as well as a grilling area.   We designed and built a large main deck with a wide stair transition to a lower deck. 

The lower deck held a new 14′ screened gazebo.  A 14’ gazebo is a good size for a 6 person table.   By building a screened gazebo we avoided the full foundation requirements and the costs involved with such an upgrade.   Also, we matched her aesthetic priorities for the gazebo with a kit manufactured by Berlin Gardens Gazebo’s.  By utilizing a kit instead of building the gazebo from scratch we saved the client additional costs as well as significant time in the construction process. 

This project is a great example of the solutions that Archadeck provides its clients based upon their priorities, including meeting a budget.

How do we begin the design process for our deck or patio?

Outdoor design begins with understanding what you want to do. A great place to start this process is by identifying what furniture groups you plan to use. Form should always follow function!

Creating outdoor living spaces requires outdoor design.  Obviously outdoor furniture will be a central element to enjoy the spaces with your family and friends.  The outdoor furniture you plan to use is a great starting point for planning your outdoor living space(s).   Knowing what type of furniture and activities you plan on using will drive the new spaces design.  Obviously it will affect size but also shapes and transitions. Form should always follow function.

When we begin the design process for a screen room, paver patio, deck or any of our projects we start by asking about use.   I like to understand what rooms they wish to have in the new outdoor spaces.   Most want an area to dine and to cook, some want a family room, many want a space for a fire pit or fireplace, some want spaces for hot tubs, and many have other ideas for outdoor spaces.   Often getting this conversation started is difficult.   Most people have not thought about their backyard in this way.   Asking about the outdoor furniture that they plan to use gets the conversation started.  Most home owners want to include a grill and a table for dinning.  Beyond these two staples each home owner adds those elements that create their unique outdoor space.

The base for creating outdoor design always flows from the functional needs.   Once we know the basic spaces that the homeowner wants to have we begin blocking out the project.   When we apply the aesthetic tastes of the client the design takes a more exact shape and form.

Deck, patio, pergola

Rehabing your deck (replace decking and reuse the structure)

Often we can replace the decking, trim, and/or the rails but keep the existing structure. The top three issues I look at are signs of structural rot, the deck to house connection (especially the flashing), and the soundness of the concrete footings. Redecks are an option that provides significant savings.

Will that deck make it through another summer?    As the snow melts, hopefully soon, thousands of decks throughout the Chicago suburbs will be revealed.   The wear and tear from another season of sun, rain, freeze, and snow will show itself.   What options does a home owner have?   If the deck boards are beyond normal maintenance, pressure washing and staining, it’s time to consider new material.  Does that mean a new deck?  Not necessarily, often we can replace the decking, trim, and/or the rails but keep the existing structure.  Have the structure evaluated by a professional deck builder or qualified contractor to insure the structure is safe and worth saving.  Poor structure with new surface material is a bad investment.  Having said this, it is very common that the structure can offer many more years of support for your deck.  The top three issues I look at are signs of structural rot, the deck to house connection (especially the flashing), and the soundness of the concrete footings.   Of course, we also review the structural plan for the deck. Healthy material won’t compensate for poor design.

Assuming the structure is sound, perhaps with minor structural repairs, there are many options to rehab and reuse your deck space.  The decking can be replaced with new wood, low maintenance deck boards (such as TimberTech or Azek), or even “stone like” tile options.  With in these choices exists a multitude of natural as well as synthetic materials.   The pros and cons of these choices are best left for another blog.  Okay, several blogs.   The key is that a deck rehab, or redeck, is a very viable option.  Redecks are an option that provides significant savings. 

These rehab’s can involve replacement of decking only or any combination of surface components.  We have done many combinations of deck rehab, including several that involved shape changes, adding screen rooms, or integration of a paver patio.  As always we start by asking questions to understand the homeowner’s priorities.  Once we have a clear picture we will offer recommendations.  Ultimately, we will build what the client wants assuming, it’s safe and legal.  However, there are a couple issues that really make sense for most deck rehab’s.  First, if you are planning to replace the decking on the stairs, it’s best to replace all elements of the stairs.   I don’t reuse strangers.  Second, reuse of non structural materials from the old deck is not worth the effort.  Using new material is so much faster for carpenters that it’s less expensive then reusing old materials.  Not to mention that I have never met a carpenter who is happy working with old material.  Remember, the carpenter is a craftsmen and their happiness will directly affect the results of your project.  Happy carpenters equal a successful project; that sounds like another future blog topic.

A deck rehab is often the perfect solution.   Whether you simply need deck boards replaced or wish to recreate your outdoor living space(s), using the existing foundation can give savings.  It can give savings of both money and time for your project.