Just like there is no single design for a house, the same holds true for porch designs. Go into any subdivision in the Altanta metro area and you'll be sure to see a variety of porch designs. Some are built in as part of the initial house construction and others are add-ons later on. Many times, you'll see an existing deck that had a roof plopped onto it with little regard for preserving the architectural integrity of the rest of the house.
Let's make a quick breakdown of typical porches in the Atlanta area:
THE BUILDER PORCH: By "Builder Porch" we mean that porch roof was built at the same time as the house and may tie into a continuous roof line. Typically, will have either a gable or shed roof with a flat (not vaulted) flat painted plywood ceiling. This hides the rough roof framing. The rafter support beams and columns will be wrapped in painted spruce trim with minimal detailing. Railings will either be pressure treated or aluminum. The screens are usually low quality, hard to see through and inexpensive. Most times it will have a brand-less flimsy aluminum door. The paint scheme usually matches the trim colors on the house. Builder porches are typically good for their first 5-10 years before the paint begins to fail causing major rot problems in the all the spruce trim. They just can't take the harsh weather long term.
THE DOWN 'N' DIRTY PORCH: The homeowner has an existing deck that they want to put an enclosure on without modifying the deck in any way. Shed roofs seem to be the most popular roof style on these largely because they are easier to add-on than a gable and are less expensive to build. The ceilings are rarely vaulted, usually flat and may or may not be painted plywood or worse. Occasionally, you'll see painted 2x8 rafters and the painted underside roof sheathing. The electrical lines are run out in the open and are stapled where you can see them. Most times, the rafter support beams and columns are pressure treated lumber that is stained to match the existing pressure treated deck it is sitting on. The wavy, bent and bowed screens are stapled to the vertical columns with some flat trim covering the staples. The railings always match the builder grade pressure treated railings on the deck. The door is whatever was on sale that day. Paint? No, not usually. The add-on porch is raw wood stained top to bottom. I bet you can find at least one of these in your neighborhood.
THE ELEGANT PORCH: This type of porch is what Peachtree Decks and Porches is known for. The design is careful and deliberate. The roof lines can be complex because they must accommodate the existing lines of the house and blend in architecturally. Steep pitched gable roofs are common to match the existing roof pitches and to provide a wide-open, airy feeling. The ceilings are always vaulted and utilize exposed heavy cedar timbers or stain grade radiata pine beadboard. All electrical lines are concealed and hidden regardless of how many fixtures are needed. The rafter support beams are trimmed with low maintenance PVC trim. Columns are oversized and trimmed with PVC to be proportional to the structure. PVC base, bed and crown moldings are used liberally to tie in with the look of the rest of the home. The floor is premium composite decking or tile. The porch wall system is intricate with stepped trim to provide depth and detail. Solid kneewalls or aluminum railings are the norm. The screen panels are wide and bright using BetterVue screen technology. Durable Andersen storm doors are used. Prep and paint is meticulous-usually taking more than a week to complete.
As a consumer, knowing what you are looking for when it comes to having a screened porch installed on your home is a big help when you're starting the process. There are big differences between the typical porch styles detailed above in both cost and quality of finished product. There is nothing wrong with a "down 'n' dirty" porch. There are thousands of them in existence and homeowners continue to hire people to throw them up. They are a cost effective way to get some shade and hide from the bugs.
Peachtree Decks and Porches has started off with many "builder" porches and remodeled them so extensively that they look like brand new porches. This is a great option if your builder porch is getting tired and you're looking to upgrade your wood decking to composite.
If you are looking to build a functional, enduring and really good looking porch that matches the fit and finish of the rest of your meticulously cared for home, you'll want to explore the "elegant porch" option. These types of screened porches are built by established, reputable companies that have a proven track record of delivering similar projects time and again.
A good way to determine the right contractor for you is to look at their websites and dig deep in the image galleries. Do they have mostly "down 'n' dirty" porches shown or exclusively "elegant" styled porches? Most times, the builders are either in one category or the other and it is easy to tell who you should call to get the ball rolling.