There are many types of screen houses, enclosures and porches. There are stand alone screened enclosure structures which can be taken apart for the winter or taken on vacation with you.
There are models of screen house which are intended to be set up on your existing deck. There is also the more permanent porch built from traditional materials like wood studs or materials like vinyl and aluminum, which are more commonly used by contractors.
Nowadays there are much better ways of building screened houses than the old method of stapling up cloth and nailing decorative trim over the staples.
You can make aluminum frames which you can easily remove when they get damaged. No need to take down huge sheets of cloth and spend hours pulling out old rusty staples !
There are vinyl strips with spline channels molded into them so you can roll the cloth right in after nailing up one of these spline channels. Changing the cloth is as easy as pulling the spline out.
One of the simplest ways to build screened houses is just to purchase rails and corners and assemble frames to fit the openings on your porch.
You can even have the frames screened prior to installation so that all that is left to do is screw them in place on the porch.
The great thing about this kind of installation is that if the cloth gets ripped or damaged, its not too difficult to take the whole frame down and get it re-screened.
This is much simpler than the conventional method of peeling of old broken trim, digging out hundreds of staples and balancing precariously on a screen porch while trying to staple new cloth in place.
The picture shows the bars installed right over top of the porch frame. You can also install install cleats and inset the frame in the porch openings for a neater appearance.
This is an example of a heavy duty bar with a 1/2" flange or lip. The lip has the advantage that you can screw your frames directly to the 2x4 or 4x4 framing of your porch. With regular rectangular bars, you normally have to install a 1x1 cleat inside the framed openings so that you have something to screw into. The heavy duty bar eliminates the need for any cleats.
The outside face of the bar is smooth and overlaps the wooden framing neatly and cleanly. The joints are mitered and the frames are fabricated to size, assembled and screened before installing onto the wooden framing. If the screening ever gets ripped or torn, its easy enough to remove the screws holding the frame on and take the whole thing down for re-screening. Much safer than balancing on a stepladder with staple gun in one hand and a roll of cloth in the other !
Looking in the end of the bar you can clearly see the lip and the spline channel on the opposite side. You can also see the friction fit corners that hold the bars together. The corners are thermoplastic, and one big advantage of that is that you can have the corners custom bent to fit angles other than 90 degrees. Useful when you have a sloping roof or an irregular shaped opening.
If you think these bars could be useful on your next project, send me a sketch such as the one above. The bars can be cut to the sizes you need and shipped to you ready for assembly, screening and installation.
There are a variety of screening materials you can use to cover your porch, regardless of the method you use to hang the cloth up.
Fiberglass cloth is the most commonly used material, you can find information on it here...
Aluminum cloth can also be used, although it does require a bit of practice because it is easy to rip during installation. I would not reccomend aluminum screening if you are using the "Screen Tight" system but if you are building a porch in the conventional way, with wooden cleats, stapling everything in place as you go, aluminum screening is no problem. Heres the information link to Aluminum Screening
You might also want to consider fiberglass solar screening for your porch. The great thing about solar screening is that it provides shade as well as keeps the bugs out. It also will protect your porch furniture from fading to a much better degree than regular screening. For more information check out the page on Solar Screen
You can make portable screened houses last a lot longer by keeping them in covered storage during extreme weather.