The first step in building a screened porch is to build a solid porch which can be screened in. The most important part of any type of porch is the foundation and the weight-bearing flooring. From there, the process of screening it in is relatively easy. If your porch already exists and you want to screen it, the process is already half finished; but if you plan on building a structure from scratch, the first step is to plan out the porch design and where you want the openings for doors and screens to go.
If you decide to build a screened porch from scratch and you are new to carpentry, you should consider building the porch square. This will save you several difficult steps, and will make framing, flooring, and screening a much more bearable process. Once the porch is built, whether from scratch or simply from an existing porch, it is time to consider where the screens will go and how large they will be. The majority of porches are either completely open-air, or they have half-walls or railings that enclose the porch part of the way. If you build a screened porch that is completely open-air, the screens will more than likely be full-length, from floor to ceiling unless you build a half wall or a railing.
The actual screening part of the process to build a screened porch can be accomplished either by using a kit or doing all the work yourself. A kit usually comes with framing that can be affixed to existing posts and railings. This framing is generally made from either a wood or wood composite, or from aluminum. Aluminum is a good choice because it is resistant to corrosion and will not warp like wood will. Wood has the benefit of being easy to manipulate and cut, as well as being aesthetically pleasing. Kits will give you step by step directions on how to build a screened porch, and how to affix framing and screening to the porch. Otherwise, you will have to purchase the materials and do the measuring, cutting, and installing on your own.
A simple screening process involves cutting some framing to fit along existing rails and posts. The screen can then be stapled or nailed to the framing, and the framing affixed to the posts. Once the framing is affixed, the screening should pull taut, and the final product will not have any slack or sag in the screens. For open-air porches, a frame will have to be made from sturdier wood, and the screens can be affixed to those. This is a more involved process that will increase the cost and time of the project.