Stylish and functional outdoor living spaces allow us to better enjoy the beauty and freshness of nature right in our own homes. Windows made of top-notch materials offer opportunities for us to bring the sunshine into our indoor spaces.
But too much of a good thing can end up causing you slight discomfort: no one wants too much wind and sun. Nor do other elements that come with nature, such as bugs and dust, make for easy living.
These are definitely downsides that may discourage you from having an open outdoor space built or huge windows installed, but before you totally scratch the idea off your list, here’s a solution that won’t compromise your style or comfort: retractable screens.
What Are Retractable Screens?
The concept behind retractable screens is pretty simple. They are a type of outdoor screen that can be pulled down or across an opening. As such, they can be likened to a screen wall or canopy. They are designed to be discreet — when pulled up, they are meant to be completely hidden from view, with their casing blending with the wall, ceiling or roof where it is installed. Retractable screens may come with a manual or automatic retracting mechanism, with the latter operated either by a switch or remote control.
Retractable screens are perfect for keeping insects out, but they are also great for improving solar control and privacy. They are best for openings that are often difficult to screen, such as French doors, bi-fold doors and stacking doors, but can also be used for other purposes and applications.
Advantages of Retractable Screens
There are several advantages to installing retractable screens, including:
- Energy efficiency – By blocking excess heat from the sun in the summer, retractable screens help reduce cooling costs.
- Privacy – There are times when you would like to be less exposed. Retractable screens can give you an instant privacy boost without being totally enclosed.
- Wind control – A light breeze is refreshing, but high winds can be rather annoying and disrupting. A retractable screen can help control air and wind movement and still let in some breezes.
- UV protection – The sun’s heat and ultraviolet (UV) rays can take a toll on furniture and other items, such as fabric and paint. Retractable screens can help prevent sun-related damage on your belongings.
- Insect barrier – Pesky insects can take away from your fun outdoor experience. With a retractable screen, you won’t have to worry about them any longer.
- Stylish accessory – If you want all the protective features of a screen but still want to retain style and curb appeal, retractable screens are your best bet.
- Additional value – Having retractable screens installed can boost your home’s value because of the advantages they offer.
Types of Retractable Screens
Retractable screen designs and mechanisms vary. Here are the most common types that you can choose from:
- Flat mesh screens – Made of a completely flat mesh fabric, this is by far the most popular option. These screens offer a minimalist and straightforward design and function. They operate using a very discreet track system. This type of retractable screen can be made up of a single panel or of two panels that meet in the middle. This is the perfect choice for when you want to screen out insects while still enjoying some wind and sunlight control that doesn’t block your view, airflow, or natural light.
- Pleated screens – This type of retractable screen is made with pleated mesh and uses the same track system as its flat mesh counterpart. Pleated screens are typically designed to operate horizontally. Single-panel types typically close against a door frame, while double-panel ones meet in the middle, with the panels held together by a magnetic closure.
- Paneled screens – These are made up of a series of panels that slide along a specially-designed guide or track. They are like bi-fold, sliding doors.
- Magnetic screens – These are typically installed over windows. They are held to the interior side of a window or wall using magnetic strips. Because of their ingenious design, they can be removed when not needed, allowing you to open the window anytime.
Ideal Fabric for Retractable Screens
You can have your retractable screen further customized by choosing the fabric according to your shade and protection needs. Here are your typical options:
- 1-percent openness acrylic fabric for maximum sunlight and wind control.
- 5-percent openness solar screen to block 95% of UV rays without compromising views and brightness.
- 10-percent openness solar screen to block 90% of UV rays while still getting sufficient illumination.
Still unsure which retractable screen to get? The best way to determine which type of retractable screen and design is best for your home and for your needs is to consult a professional provider of screens and shades.
Wallace Kamens is the general manager of ArmorGuard Exteriors, a family-owned company. Operated by the Booth family, the company is manned by a staff boasting more than 150 years of combined home improvement experience. ArmorGuard Exteriors manufactures and installs top-quality products, including exterior solar shades and retractable awnings.