A swimming pool is supposed to be a refuge from the stress and frustrations of everyday life. That’s why pool owners generally don’t take kindly to annoyances like excess debris or bugs in the pool area. In fact, to protect their backyard sanctuaries, many of them take the seemingly extreme measure of having their pools completely screened in.
Pool screen enclosures (aka pool cages or pool lanais) are commonplace in Florida, where they not only protect against mosquitoes but offer refuge from the sun and heat. With growing awareness of the Zika virus, it’s likely that more and more people will be looking to screen off pools and other outdoor areas. But is it the right decision for you?
Pluses and Minuses
Pool screens are effective at blocking off the pool area from all sides. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective and the situation. Let’s start by listing some of the main advantages of this type of pool enclosure:
- Keeps mosquitoes and other pests away from swimmers
- Keeps leaves and other debris out of the pool
- Blocks sight lines to the pool, providing a measure of privacy
- Blocks some sunlight, so the pool and pool area stay cooler
- Serves as a safety barrier for your pool
- Prevents wild animals like frogs and ducks from entering your pool area
So, given all those benefits, why aren’t swimming pool screens more popular? Because a screened enclosure also comes with a few disadvantages:
- Blocks sight lines to the pool, keeping you from enjoying its beauty from other parts of your property
- Blocks sunlight, potentially leaving the pool and pool area too cool
- Requires periodic cleaning and repairs
- Isn’t aesthetically pleasing – in fact, some consider pool screens to be eyesores
Of course, there’s one other notable downside to pool screen enclosures, and that’s the price tag. Because cost is always a major factor when considering a pool feature, it deserves separate treatment.
How Much Does a Pool Screen Enclosure Cost?
Prices vary, but pool screen enclosures typically cost $6-8 per square foot. Based on that, you can expect to pay several thousand dollars at minimum to screen in an average-sized inground swimming pool. Estimating the bottom-line price for a pool lanai is difficult because of the following variables:
- Size of the area being screened
- Height of the enclosure
- Number of sides to be screened (in other words, does it connect to the house?)
- Exact materials used
Naturally, you can save a lot by screening the pool yourself. In fact, you can find pool screen enclosure kits that make the job easier. Still, before undertaking such a project, make sure it conforms to the residential pool code in your area – especially if you plan to use the enclosure to meet safety barrier requirements.
Don’t “Cage” Yourself In
If you’re unsure about getting a pool screen enclosure, the best advice is take your time deciding. Unless you have past experience with pool screens, or special concerns that make one particularly attractive, you can afford to take a wait-and-see approach. After you’ve used the pool for a summer or two, you can get it screened in if it turns out to be necessary.
Even in places that are notorious for mosquitoes, many pool owners get by just fine without a screen enclosure. In these cases, keeping the pool properly chlorinated and in good working condition are enough to keep the pests at bay. Luck of the draw is also important, as even within the same general area, some locations just seem to draw bugs more than others.
Before getting your pool screened, also make sure you look into other types of enclosures that could meet your needs. And, as always when choosing a contractor, get at least a couple of quotes for the job. It’s worth doing the extra legwork – after all, you’re protecting your sanctuary.