How to Make a Four Season Room from a Porch

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
Forty years ago when my house was built, screened-in porches were a great idea. But that was back in the days before central air conditioning was as common as it is today. But maybe all that air conditioning has made me a bit soft or spoiled, because as comfortable as this room is today, for a lot of the year, I find it too cold or too warm out here. So what I want to do is make this into a four seasons room. I want to preserve the cross ventilation and the great views but I want to be able to use it, year round.

I start my project by prying off the wood stops that are holding the screen panels in place.  Once the inside stops are removed, a few taps with a mallet from the outside nudges the panels free. Then I can just lift them out.

Since the porch construction is pretty straightforward, eight columns supporting the roof, about the only other demolition I have to do is to remove some trim from the posts. Well, I'm finished with the destruction. Now I want to start the construction.

And I want to begin by putting a short wall between the posts about three feet high. Because everything from there up is gonna be windows. I grab a few two by fours out of my truck for the sill and bottom plate, then cut them to length so they'll fit between the posts. The bottom board is pressure treated. On top of that, I lay a standard two by four, then attach the two boards together.

This carbide tip masonry bit also bores through wood. Now the idea here is to put the boards in place and drill through just far enough to make a locator mark on the stone below. Then I switch over to a hammer drill, also equipped with a masonry bit and finish boring the holes.

A piece of tape on the drill shank acts as a depth guide. Next, I drive expansion anchor bolts into the holes I've just drilled. To make an airtight seal, I lay down a strip of foam insulation. Then slip the screwed together two by fours over the bolts.

I install washers and nuts and tighten everything with a socket wrench. As the nuts are tightened, the bolts expand inside the holes, jamming themselves in place and securing the boards to the floor. Finally, I trim away the excess foam.

Then I repeat the process for the other wall sections. Well, my double base plate is in securely fastened to the deck. Now what I'm gonna do is build a short wall here complete with a top plate and studs about every 16 inches.

The end studs are nailed to the posts. Then the top plate or sill is set in place. I check for level, then nail it down. Next, I install studs every 16 inches or so, making sure they're plumb or vertical. Then end nail at the top and toe nail at the bottom.

Well, that finishes this side of the porch. That's a porch for now, I guess, soon to be a room. Now I'm gonna do the same thing on this wall and that one over there.

This wall is going to have a glass sliding door. All I have to do here is add a couple of two by fours to reduce the rough opening to the proper size. Now next, I want to begin to actually enclose this by applying plywood sheeting on the outside.

I tilt the sheeting up, slide it into position, then attach it with a clamp. Now this leaves my hands free to work. A couple of nails along the top will hold the plywood in place. This simple T-square that I've made up from some scrap one by twos, allows me to quickly draw locator lines for the studs.

Even on a short wall like this, it's easy to drift sideways and miss the framing. The lines make sure every nail finds its mark.
[MUSIC]
Well, I've got the beginnings of a wall. Now it's time to make sure my handiwork can resist Mother Nature's attempts to shorten its useful life.

Now this is a water and air barrier. Why am I putting it up? Well, I want to keep water, rain and air, cold winds, from penetrating to the inside of the house while at the same time, I want to allow water vapor to pass through the walls to the outside and not get trapped inside the wall where it could do some damage. Now I've already applied it over here, I've just got one section left right here.

This material can be attached either with a conventional staple gun or a hammer tacker. The hammer tacker though is a good bit faster and less tiring on the grip. Upper pieces are lapped over lower ones so that flowing water will always be diverted to the front of the strip below and never directed behind the wrap where it could be trapped and cause rotting.

Finally, I tape all the seams with a material designed just for that purpose. Well, I guess this is why they call it home wrap. Well, the walls are in good shape. Now I'm going to do the same for the window and door openings. This aluminum tape will create a water tight and weather tight seal.

I apply it to the sills and run it up the sides about eight inches. I cut it so that it can be wrapped around the corners and finally fold it over the edges. I apply a second strip of tape to the rear of the sill in the same way.

My new windows come with a metal flange that must be bent outward so it's perpendicular to the window frame. The weather tight seal comes from a bead of caulk that's applied to the inside of the flange. Now installing these windows, at least the larger ones is definitely a two person job.

So I recruit my neighbor Peter to come over and lend me a hand. After setting the bottom of the window on the finished opening, we just tilt it up into position.

Wow, like a glove huh?
PETER:
Hey, it looks great.
RON HAZELTON:
[LAUGHS] You know, I'm very lucky to have a neighbor like you.
PETER:
Thanks. I've got work at my house next.
RON HAZELTON:
Yeah. Well, turnabout's fair play. I owe you one.
PETER:
Thanks, appreciate it.
RON HAZELTON:
-- at the top, I make sure the house wrap laps over the flange, then nail the window in place. Well, I can't let Peter go yet. The sliding glass door is even larger than the window. But the installation is pretty much the same drill.

With the windows and doors in, it's time to begin adding some exterior trim, starting with the sills. Notice the drip groove in the bottom? It will prevent water from clinging to the underside and running down behind the shingles. I first clamp the wood in place, then secure it with screws. Adjoining sections are overlapped using a mitered scarf joint. Screw holes are countersunk so the screw heads can later be concealed with exterior spackle.

Above the windows, I'm installing some flat trim. The galvanized finish nails I'm using are being driven just below the surface, so they too can be concealed with spackle before painting. A piece of cornice molding adds a nice bit of detail where the eaves meet the wall.

And finally, I set a piece of one by six in place to fill in the space between the windows. Now it's on to shingling. I tack a strip of one by two in place as a sort of ledge. Then simply set each shingle on the board and tack it temporarily in place.

This speeds things up and allows me to make sure the bottom edge of each course is perfectly straight. Once an entire row is set, I strike a chalk line as a nailing guide and permanently attach each shingle with two galvanized nails.

These windows are state of the art, as good as they get when it comes to sealing around the edges and insulation. Two pieces of glass with a space in between filled with argon gas, an inert gas. Now that helps keep warm heated air from passing through in the winter and keeps the hot air outside in the summer.

So I've done about as good as I can do in terms of insulation up here. Now it's time to take care of the wall down here. I'll use bags of insulation cut to fit each bay. After stapling these in place, all I need to do is to cut out the openings for the electrical receptacles.

The power of course is turned off. This paper on the back of the insulation is a vapor barrier. It's intended to prevent water vapor from passing into the wall cavity. And when you're putting insulation like this up, make sure the vapor barrier is facing the interior living space as it is here.

Next, it's time for the drywall. Now, when it comes to driving screws for wallboard, you'll never get faster than this. This driver holds a strip of 50 screws. It's a one-handed operation that goes about as fast as I can pull the trigger.

To finish the wallboard, I first cover the recessed screw heads with joint compound, then apply a coat of compound to the joints themselves. Now I like to wet my paper tape before applying it. For me, it sticks better and I seem to be able to avoid air bubbles.

I lay the tape along the joint, then press it into the compound, keeping the knife at a shallow angle. Taping usually requires two or three coats of compound, each one being applied with a wider knife. I tape the corners the same way, first applying a bedding coat of compound.

Here though, I fold the tape before dipping it in the water and lay the crease into the corner of the wall, then press each flap of the tape into the compound, using the putty knife.

The last step for me is to trim out the windows on the inside. The cordless nailer I'm using requires no compressor, no fuel cells and will drive up to 1000 nails on a single battery charge. Well, that finishes up this room.

When the weather's good, I can open all these windows, pull down the screens and still have the breezes and fresh air of the porch I started with. You know, I like this as a porch but it's 20 degrees out there today and it's warm and cozy in here. So I like it a whole lot more as a four seasons room.

Convert an Existing Porch into Space that can be Used Year Round

If you have an existng screened in porch or patio, you may be surprised by how simple it is to convert this space into a four season room that can be used all year round, no matter what the weather outside. The framework is already there, all you need are some walls and windows, and you've got a more livable square footage.

Remove Old Screen Panels
Step 1

Remove Old Screen Panels

Begin by pulling away the molding or stops that hold the old screen panels into place. Once these have been removed, the panels should be easily tapped out of the frame with a hammer. If there is any additional trim on the exterior of the posts that will serve as your framework, you should also use a pry bar and a hammer to remove it during this step.

Install the Bottom Sill Plate
Step 2

Install the Bottom Sill Plate

Before you build the walls, you will need to install a bottom plate. This plate consists of two boards, one on top of the other, that are bolted directly into the concrete pad below. This step ensures the stability of the walls as the room is finished. The bottom plate should be treated lumber, as it will be the most exposed piece to the elements. Install anchor bolts into the concrete so that the plate can be bolted tightly to the floor. You may also want to place a thin piece of foam insulation between the concrete pad and the bottom board, to make sure that it is weather tight.

Frame the Walls
Step 3

Frame the Walls

When framing the walls, you will need to make a plan according to the size of the windows that you've purchased. The walls should then be framed to the appropriate height for the windows to fit. Begin by nailing vertical 2 x 4's to the existng posts, and then nail a top plate across them. Once that plate is in place, then additional studs can be nailed into place, 16 inches apart. Nail through the plate into the top of the stud, and then toenail the bottom of the stud into the bottom plate.

Install Exterior Sheeting
Step 4

Install Exterior Sheeting

Once the walls are framed, you will need to apply the exterior sheeting. An exterior grade plywood is perfect for this application. Simply cut the sheets to the proper size and nail them into place. You may find it helpful to build a simple square and to make a pencil mark along the straight edge. This will help you ensure that all of your nails are going directly into the heart of the stud, and not shooting around the sides. Once the sheeting is installed, then you should notice that the walls have become much more rigid.

Apply Tyvek Housewrap
Step 5

Apply Tyvek Housewrap

Housewrap will help weather proof the new room that you are building. It will act as a barrier to both moisture and wind, and will keep the wood framing and sheeting from rotting. Tyvek is a popular product often used for this application. Always make sure that the top piece overlaps the bottom, so that water always flows away from inside of the wrap. This will keep moisture away from the wooden framing of your four season room.

Seal the Window and Door Frames
Step 6

Seal the Window and Door Frames

Before you install the windows and doors to your new four season room, you will need to make sure that the bare and exposed wood around the frames and jambs is sealed. Use a foil backed tape to do this. Overlap the sills and corners about 8 inches up the vertical sides and fold down the flaps. Think of it as gift wrapping the 2 x 4's that make up the frame.

Install Windows and Doors
Step 7

Install Windows and Doors

Once the frames are sealed with foil tape, you are ready to install the doors and windows. Begin by unfolding the nailing flanges and applying a bead of silicone to the inside of the flange. As you set the window into place, put the bottom onto the sill first, and then tip the top of the unit into place. Have a friend help you hold it in while you install the nails through the flange and into the framework of the wall.

Apply Exterior Trim
Step 8

Apply Exterior Trim

Now that your windows and doors are in place, you are ready to install the exterior trim. The trim design that you choose will be particular to your house, but for any project, you will need to install trim around the windows with a drip edge. This ensures that the water doesn't flow back under the sill and into your wall. 1 x 6 is also commonly used to fill the spaces between windows. It can easily be ripped on a table saw to fit whatever space you may need to fill. Cornice pieces can also be installed between the exterior wall and the eave to dress up the appearance of your new four season room.

Install Exterior Siding
Step 9

Install Exterior Siding

Whatever product you choose to utilize for your exterior walls, it is important that it is level. In this case, Ron is using a cedar shake shingles, and after using a thin strip of wood to ensure that they first row is lined up correctly, he snaps a chalk line after each successive course to ensure that the spacing is uniform all the way up.

Insulate the New Walls
Step 10

Insulate the New Walls

Use paper backed fiberglass insulation to insulate the walls. The bats of insulation can be cut to the proper length before you install them. Set the bats into place, unfold the paper tabs over the studs, and use a staple gun to fasten the tabs to the studs. The paper acts as a vapor barrier, so always make sure that it is installed facing the interior of the room that you are insulating. A utility knife can be used to cut around any electrical outlets or light switches that you may have chosen to install.

Install Wallboard
Step 11

Install Wallboard

Begin this step by cutting the wallboard to the proper size. Try to utilize as many factory cut edges as you can, as this will make the finishing process a little easier. Screw the pieces into place using a screw gun. Ron is using a drill designed just for this process and it allows him to install the screws very quickly.

Finish Wallboard Screw Holes and Seams
Step 12

Finish Wallboard Screw Holes and Seams

Begin the finishing process by filling the screw holes with joint compound. This may take several coats, with a light sanding job in between. The seams will require drywall tape to finish correctly. Coat the seam with joint compound, and then press the tape into the seam with a putty knife, pressing out any excess compound. It usually takes 2 or 3 coats to completely finish the seam, using a wider knife for each coat.

Apply Interior Trim
Step 13

Apply Interior Trim

The final step is to apply the interior trim. This job is done quickly and easily with a cordless nailer that doesn't require a compressor. You can choose trim that matches the rest of the woodwork in your home, or give your new four season room a look and feel that is completely unique.