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Retractable Porch Screens

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The Ins and Outs of Retractable Porch and Door Screens

The sun is perched on the horizon, the air is cool and the wind is soft. You grab your favorite beverage and decide to be a part of the evening on your porch. Unfortunately, some of the creatures want a part of you – namely, the mosquitoes and gnats. These pests can be a buzz kill, but you can take back your territory with your retractable porch screen. One that is retractable allows you to enjoy those times without having a screen up constantly.

A retractable porch or door screen may be the best invention since the fly swatter. When you don't need it, it retracts into housing on the door jam or the eve above the porch. This allows you to enjoy the porch with or without the screen in accordance to the weather, and it allows you to leave a door open and still protect against bugs and other pests that might otherwise enter the home.

Retractable screen doors are barely noticeable because they are mounted unobtrusively on the inside or outside of the doorway and, when not in use, they are concealed. They are made to fit a variety of doors, including single, double, sliding arcadia and French doors. Unlike in-swing and out-swing door screens, which can be a hindrance when more room is required to open them, these slide back and forth, and they are easier to open and quick to retract when you enter or exit.

These screens are great for saving electricity during certain times of the year, especially if you have them at opposite ends of the home. That allows a nice breeze to flow through the house, which will also help to clear out contaminants lingering in the air of the home that might make you sick. The screens can offer additional protection by providing a little more insulation for the doorway during cold months.

They are also safer for children because they are not likely to pinch as a typical screen door can. No more smashed fingers for the kiddos because these don't slam shut and they usually latch with magnets, though you can get the kind that have mechanical latches.

Manual or Electric Retractable Screen?

Retractable door screens and retractable porch screens can be manual or electric. The motorized version is particularly helpful for screens on the porch, which can be quite tall and hard to manage. The motor makes them much easier to open and close.

From the porch, they retract vertically into a holder that rests on the eve of the porch or into a ceiling cavity where they stay hidden away until you need them. When you are ready again, simply push a button, and they drop into place mechanically. This is a great way to expand living space by making the porch more functional, and you have no frames blocking your outside view.

In addition to bugs, once the porch screen is down, it protects you from wind, sun and even rain. A good one will reduce the temperature on the porch by as much as 25 degrees. In fact, they work so well that for a couple years the government offered a tax credit for buying one.

Retractable Screen Materials

Retractable screens are made of many materials, including fiberglass and solar mesh, which is good for protection against the sun and UV rays. Mermet and Phifer are just two of the companies that make solar screen fabric. Another popular material is a polymer and polyester combination called SuperScreen Mesh, which is corrosion, mildew, pet, puncture and tear resistant. As far as designs, there are more than you can shake a curtain rod at: It's just a matter of what you like.

When it comes to quality, you need to make sure the manufacturer has made the door hardware out of durable components. If you can, choose a self-lubricating screen guide to keep everything moving smoothly without any attention from you. Also, look for adjustable spring tension so the retractable screen doesn't slam shut. If you have a clawed pet, you may need a reinforced screen to avoid damage. If you live near the ocean, you need a corrosion-resistant material. Before you buy, be sure to read a review or two to compare customer satisfaction about the particular product.

After you choose a retractable door or porch screen, you will have to decide whether to install it yourself. Most manufacturers assure you that their product is easy to install, which is probably true if you are handy with that kind of thing. Keep in mind, however, you will need to take precise measurements to make things fit. You may also have to do a little chiseling or wood shaving on your doorframe or surrounding area for the installation. The hardest thing, though, is when you are installing a motorized screen. If you are not an expert at electrical wiring, you should probably have a pro install it.

After you have done all that, you can feel certain that the next time you step out for a tequila sunrise, you won't have to share your straw, or your blood, with anything that has more wings than you do.