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Question DetailsAsked on 6/27/2017

What is code for spacing of support beams on screen porch

Building a 10 x 15 screened in porch. How far apart should the support beams be? Is there a building code distance in Tampa Fl.

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Code does not control the spacing - that is based on the architectural design desired, and on the structural design considering roof dead weight (weight of the building materials), live loads (people walking on it, wind and snow loading, etc) and any suspected loads (interior ceiling, etc. You could, if you wanted to spend the money, have a 100' free span though of course the beams and columns would be unduly large in that case. Certainly for your size porch free span down each size is feasible, though unnecessary because you will still need intermediate posts to mount the screening to. Generally, for a normal porch roof the supporting post spacing would not be more than 8 feet except for architectural appearance or clear view reasons, though of course the greater the span the heftier (and generally deeper) the supporting beams have to be, and the larger the posts become - though for your dimensions neither would get out of hand.

For a screened in porch, the common spacing is also guided by the readily available screening size of the type you want (nylon, polyester, wire mesh, copper, stainless, bronze, etc) which commonly come in 3, 4, 5 (sometimes), and 6 feet and sometimes also in 8 and 10 feet width depending on manufacturer and material - so of course the spacing has to be such (either with load-bearing posts or for architctural posts to mount the screening to) to accomodate the available screening material width. Generally the wider widths (over 4 feet) tend to run more per square foot and certainly so for the wider stainless or copper/bronze screening, and fo course wider panels are more susceptible to damage from high winds, hail, and wind-thrown debris. Generally, especially in high-wind areas like yours (hurricanes and thunderstorms) 3-4 foot and sometimes (with more risk of damage) up to 6 foot post spacing would be common.

In almost all areas, you will need a design and plans (generally from an architect with him using in-house or consulting structural engineer for the structural design part) to be able to get a building permit, and for potential contractors to bid to and for the successful one to build to. Sometimes for a very simple porch a Porch and Deck contractor will, if you want to commit to one particular contractor without competitive bids, offer to get the design done as part of the job (at greater cost, of course). Also, in some areas, contractors can do design of one or two story residential buildings without an engineer - but that assumes he actually knows how to design what he is building and will design and build it to the local and state (particularly in your case Florida hurricane code).

For a normal porch roof and porch, "normal" post spacing for your case would probably be (to make them same spacing all around, more visually aesthetic) around 3-1/3 or 5 feet on centers - probably much more commoonly the 3-1/3 foot spacing in your area, with two of those size on the long side and two around 4 feet wide. The panel size of course parly depends on the column size - for instance with 4x4 posts (say 4" minimum actual with screening strips) for a 10/15 foot outside dimension your panels could be 3 panels on the short end a bit less than 35" wide, and 5 on the long side about 31.2", 4 at 39", or 3 at about 52" - or some combination thereof. The architect can quickly whip up alternatives depending on whether you want a uniform or symmetric or "bay-window" effect in the panel widths.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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