Turning a three-season porch into a finished room

I just bought a treadmill. Sort of on impulse, actually… It’s starting to get way too cold and icy for me to want to run outdoors, and with holiday eating approaching, I’m just not feeling like now is the time to give up running. Ironically, there’s a gym just three blocks away from me, but I seriously hate going to the gym. So, after Saturday’s icy run, I came home and scoured the internet for the best deal. I found one for about half-off (Black Friday deal), and went for it.

Now the next question… where am I going to put this thing?

I have a perfect spot, actually… a three-season porch off the side of the house that I really only use as an area for storing things that I don’t want to put away yet. Yes, a garbage room. When I first bought the duplex, it was covered in faux-wood paneling, had a dropped ceiling, strange velvet yellow drapes, and a bar lamp. Oh, and a red carpet. I’m guessing it was previously the poker/smoking room? I removed the paneling a long time ago, and had the screen door and storm windows replaced with a quality exterior door and new vinyl windows, but haven’t gotten much farther than that (aside from installing an outlet). It’s very drafty right now — so much so that I close the door to it and keep it unheated. I’m told that repeated thawing-and-freezing is not so good for electronics and moving equipment like treadmills, though, so as-is, the porch isnt’ an ideal location. That, and the whole point of having a treadmill is being able to run in a heated space…

So, now, (ideally, within 7-10 business days — shipping time for the treadmill), I need to “weatherize” the room and turn it into part of the house.

Luckily, I’ve already tackled the door and windows — those are certainly the most expensive pieces of the puzzle, and the parts that I can’t do myself. I have some options for how I can proceed with the rest:

The walls
Option 1: Tear out the existing bead-board paneling on the exterior walls, do some spray foam to seal up gaps, then lay in fiberglass insulation. Replace the walls with new drywall (or possibly just new beadboard… I haven’t determined yet if I need to have drywall beneath new paneling or not).

Option 2: Hire someone to blow cellulose or foam into the exterior walls. I haven’t looked into cost for this yet, but I’m guessing that it would be more than the cost of materials for option 1. However, the plus side is that there would be less work on my part, I’d just need to scrape and paint the existing paneling.

The interior walls of that room are currently covered with some very odd 40s-vintage faux brick siding. Beneath that is the original wood siding of the house. I’m thinking that I could just remove the faux brick, and replace it with either beadboard or drywall, depending on what I decide to do with the exterior walls.

Other variables yet-to-be-determined:

The floor.
Currently, underneath the carpet (which is in very poor condition), is a traditional painted wood porch floor. I haven’t ventured to look underneath it yet, but there isn’t an accessible crawl space (although the room is built on solid footings). I could either leave the floor as-is, and cover it with new carpet/tile/vinyl/wood, etc., OR, I could actually rip up the floor and insulate underneath, then build a new subfloor and cover that with a new floorcovering. The floor currently isn’t letting as much cold in as the walls, but it is certainly letting some in. It starts to become a question of how much time/effort I’m willing to put into a home that I don’t plan to live in forever, and what is “good enough” for a rental…

The ceiling.
Right now, the ceiling is also painted wood slats that need to be either scraped and painted or covered up. If I go with beadboard for the walls, I think that it would look fine with a little TLC and a fresh coat of paint. However, if I drywall the walls, I think it’ll look odd to have a wood slat “porch” ceiling…

Right now, it’s running through metal conduit. I’m fine with keeping it running outside of the walls, but would want to replace it with the nicer-looking white wiremold style conduit.

The porch is only 10′ x 7′, but this is already sounding like more than a 7-10 day project (for a person who has a day job, at least). Another point to consider: The more big surface areas that I replace (drywall, etc.), the more I will need a helper for the job. Which I can certainly get, I just like to make sure that I’m using my favors judiciously… When it’s all finished, though, it’ll be a great improvement to this floor of the duplex as a rental unit — I’m adding an entire new room that could be used as a sunroom, office, bedroom or kitchen eating area. Oh, or fitness room 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Turning a three-season porch into a finished room

  1. I signed on from home this morning to check Google reader for anything interesting. When I saw that you had a new post, I was excited! There isn’t much in Google reader that excites me. I just wanted to write you to let you know that this blog is great!

    I stumbled upon this your site last winter when I was researching duplex properties in anticipation of purchasing my first property (a duplex). I bought a duplex in last spring. Your blog has been an incredible resource for me. Our duplex was built in 1927. We live in the bottom unit. I can relate to almost all of your entries. Between now and when I discovered this site, I’ve read it start to finish (I think). You should consider publishing a book. I think many landlords (especially new ones) would find this informative and helpful. I’m thinking of starting my own site to journal my experiences as a landlord as we are doing many home improvement projects and renovations as well. I am losing my current tenants in a month so now would be a good time to start.

    I’m curious, do you track traffic on your site? I would predict that this site gets plenty of traffic.

    You do a great job! Your posts are informative and always a joy to read! Thank you!

  2. Thanks, Ross! I’ve gotten a lot of comments lately from other duplex owners, and I’m really glad that this blog is helpful. I wish that I had started it earlier in my duplex career, because I really did jump into this knowing very little at all…I’ve just been learning as I go.

    If you start journaling your landlording/renovation experiences, let me know, I’d b interested in reading/linking to it. I’m big on doing internet research before starting anything too big, so I definitely appreciate other sites that give details about renovation projects, like cost, time spent, etc.

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